700 – A Story For Another Time…

Hi folks.

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the strip. Since March 2020, in fact. I don’t think COVID-19 and the quarantine played into my malaise, but it certainly didn’t help. My enthusiasm for the strip has waned significantly over the past couple of years. ร‚ย After long discussions with people whose creative opinions I respect and some soul-searching, I’ve decided to bring the strip to a close. There may well be some one-shot adventures later down the line with Dhur, Jaine and all the rest, but it would be disingenuous to say that those stories are “just around the corner!”

I am not going to go away, however. I will be working on other projects and I will let you all know what they are and when you can expect to see them. They might be gaming-related, they might not. ร‚ย I want to explore other genres, other formats and see what works for me.

A brief bookkeeping note: to all paying Patrons at the Patreon MeatShield page, I’ve frozen all payments there and will keep it so. It’s not fair to have a Patreon page up asking for donations when you aren’t receiving anything in return. To any patrons that still have bonuses coming to them, such as character portraits, email me at rob (at) meatshield (dot) net and remind me.

I want to thank each and everyone of you for your astounding support over the past ten years. I couldn’t have gotten this far without you, and it’s been a privilege to make something that so many people enjoy. I love you guys.

Take care,


699 – “…and now, for the real test!”

Prof. Tunny probably goes through a lot of interns that way; kind of how Murphy Brown went through secretaries…

Like everyone else in the world, my family and I are sheltering in place from this stupid virus. We’re all healthy (so far!) and I hope you all are healthy as well.
One positive thing about this is that, via Zoom, I am now DMing with my game group back in CA! Didn’t realize how much I missed it, but I did.
Stay safe, stay healthy, keep 6 feet away from everybody, and take care,


696 – “Westhame’s Idols Have Got Talent with the Voice!”

Howdy folks! Jaine is finally going to do it – she’s finally going to perform her magnum opus, The Ballad of Dhur! Also, that priestess in the center? That is the alter ego of none other than longtime MeatShield patron Amy Hamaker! As a patron at the Archmage level, she became entitled to a cameo in a MeatShield strip of anyone chose. This is her PC from a campaign we were in together years ago. Hope you enjoy your cameos, Amy!

Would you like to have a cameo in a MeatShield strip? You can! Just go to the MeatShield Patreon page and take a look at the reward tiers available

In other news, I’ve decided that I’m going to be switching to a biweekly schedule until I can well and truly get my feet back under me. Look for the next strip in two weeks!

Take care, folks!


695 – Just a little paperwork…

I’m sorry for the extended silence, folks. I wish I had a better story, but the truth is, I fell victim to procrastination on an epic scale and mismanaging my time after working all day. Anyhoos, the farther along it went, the harder it was to break out of it. I’m back now. Thanks for all the kind comments while I was busy trying to get my head out of my butt. ๐Ÿ™‚

In other news, Jaine is free and now all that’s left is… the dreaded THESIS!

Take care,


Mea Culpa

Hi folks. Sorry I’ve been incommunicado for this long; not intentional on my part, trust me. I’ll spare you the details and just say that this month has been very hectic and crazy-making. Stupid real life things getting in the way of making comics, essentially. I will have the next strip online on Monday, Oct. 28 and I will (fingers crossed for luck) be able to get back on a more reliable update schedule for you all.

Thank you all for understanding and for your frankly uncanny support. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care, everyone,


694 – It’s exactly what it looks like.

10 years ago today I decided to start a webcomic loosely based on one of my favorite things: D&D. After a much needed sabbatical, I have come to the following conclusion:

MeatShield will continue!

Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขll be changing things up a bit, though. For example, Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขm exploring the opportunities presented by a new format, which you can see in todayรขโ‚ฌโ„ขs strip. More changes will be phased in over the coming year.

Thank you to each and every one of you. To paraphrase Quark of DS9: รขโ‚ฌล“Good readers are more precious than gold-pressed latinum; cherish them.รขโ‚ฌย

Onward to Year ELEVEN!

Take care,



Hi folks.

Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขm well-known for making short stories long, so Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขll get to the point: I am completely burned out, creatively. This is probably the worst case of burn-out Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขve had since I started drawing the strip. I no longer have the drive to do the one thing Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขve wanted to do since I was five years old: draw cartoons. This both sickens and saddens me.

Sure, working a full-time job for the first time in over nine years, coupled with a two-hour round-trip commute each day, is a contributing factor, but this malaise is something that has been building for well over two years now, if Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขm being honest with myself.

After much soul-searching, Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขve decided that I need to take a sabbatical. Priests get to take one after five years; I guess cartoonists get to take them after nine? Making comics should be bringing me (and you all) joy. I just need to step away for a while and find that joy, that spark, again. Maybe with MeatShield, maybe with something else. I need to take the time to figure that out, too.

Also, not for nothing, but Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขve been at this for 9 1/2 years. Despite my stubbornness, I havenรขโ‚ฌโ„ขt been able to make MeatShield profitable enough for it to be my full-time job. Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขm not all about the money, but being able to keep your family fed and put a roof over their heads are important and valid concerns.

My sabbatical starts now – I apologize for doing so in the middle of a storyline. My tentative plan is to return on September 9, 2019, the ten-year anniversary of the strip. Thank you so much for the support youรขโ‚ฌโ„ขve shown me for all or part of the last 9 1/2 years. Whether you discovered MeatShield nine years ago or nine days ago, your support as readers has really made a difference.

So bear with me during this time of recovery and exploration. Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขm looking forward to seeing what bigger and better things are out there for me creatively, and I canรขโ‚ฌโ„ขt wait to share them with you.

Take care,


693 – Smitty the Props Guy

Yes, the prop guy is missing fingers on his left hand. Name me a shop teacher who didn’t at least have part of a finger missing. Also, cedar may not be rare here, in the Real World, but in Ardris? Like Smitty said, that stuff ain’t cheap.

In other news, I have just decided that the props guy is named Smitty.

Take care,


690 – It’s a FAKE!!!!

Becky is getting more patient – she would’ve kicked that guy’s butt for the “sweetcheeks” crack, and then we’d have three people in jail.

BTW – I forgot to draw the white feather in the fourth panel. Let’s all just imagine that it’s there anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚ I meant to draw it, at any rate.

689 – Brother Leon, CSI

UPDATE – 3/29/19 – I’ve recently taken a position with the American Heart Association to be able to pay some bills and get decent insurance for me and my family. It’s a great thing, but I haven’t had time (or energy, especially) in the past two weeks after coming home at 6:30 at night to get the comic done in the timely manner that I’ve been striving for. I plan on getting work done on it this weekend and I’ll have the Patreon Sneak Peek for all $2+ patrons up on the Patreon page later today. Next week, that cartoon will post on the main site (where you’re reading this) and I should be able to get a handle on this thing.

TLDR: Started new job, the Patreon sneak peek will be posted later today, the new cartoon for this site will post next week. Thanks for understanding, you guys are awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

If he did have tenure, it didn’t do him much good. Next up: Becky checks out the spear!

Take care,


683 – Dun-dun-DUNNNN!!!

So, what do YOU guys think happened here? Let me know in the comments. ๐Ÿ™‚

I know I’m in the minority in this, but I’ve never liked Clue – neither the board game nor the movie. I might like it more if it also came with options like “Mister Redbeard in the conservatory with a Battleaxe!”

Nah, I probably wouldn’t. ๐Ÿ™‚


680 – That’s your school?

When I was around seven years old, my father’s work transferred us to San Francisco. On one of our family outings we drove across the Golden Gate bridge and my mom pointed out the Palace of Fine Arts to me as we drove by it on our way into the Presidio and then to the bridge. I remember thinking that the rotunda WAS the entire palace and that it was a secret entrance to an underground theater or something. Remember, I was seven at the time and as a comic book loving kid, the idea of a secret underground anything was awesome to me.

So, yeah, the orb’s the entire Conservatory. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


678 – CARL!!!!

Dammit, Carl! If you’re going to steal something (especially something as big as a ship), you don’t broadcast that you did it! That’s like back during the Depression and bank robbers would rob banks and as they’re leaving shout out, “and they ask you who robbed this bank, tell ’em all it was us, Joltin’ Jack and the Scuggins Gang!” The hell, people?

This is the last MeatShield comic of 2018! I’ll be taking the next two weeks off for the holidays. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and I’ll see you all again on January 11, 2019!

Take care, folks. ๐Ÿ™‚


674 – Where’s the Genius Bar?

How much was it? Let’s put it this way: if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.:)

I will be taking Thanksgiving week off from the strip, as both my kids and my wife have the entire week off! How often does that happen? In the meantime, I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving and I’ll see you all on the 30th!

Gobble gobble,


673 – The MeatShield Primer!

Know someone who might like the strip but is intimidated by having to wade through 660+ strips just to get caught up? The MeatShield Primer is the perfect jumping-on point! Tell your family and friends! Post it on the social media outlet of your choice! Print it out and slap it up on game store bulletin boards! Pass it out at bus stations! Anything will help! Thanks!

Take care,


670 – Traveling by Map… Again!

We bring the epic of the Empire of the Mithril Skulls to a close, only to face a newer, greater threat: Thesis Presentation! It hasn’t been touched on in a VERY long time, but Jaine is actually a Bardic Graduate Student who has been working on her thesis project, a ballad about a great hero. There was a bit of procrastination on her part and when the deadline began rearing its ugly head, the only hero she could find was Dhur.

Take care,


666 – That went well.

Poor Leon. Maybe he can join AARP now? That discount isn’t anything to sneeze at.

Foradain, one of MeatShield’s longtime readers, asked last week what I had planned for “the devil’s comic”, i.e. strip #666 (this one). To tell the truth, it kind of snuck up on me. Instead of making some sort of in-strip reference to “the devil’s game” (as D&D was referred to in the early 80s during the ‘Satanic Panic’), I decided it would be best to just keep on keeping on. It’s just a number, ya know? That’s the same thing I told myself on my last birthday *cough*.

As of September 9th, 2018 (a.k.a. last Sunday), MeatShield has been around for NINE YEARS. That is astounding. My daughters had just started kindergarten when I began – now they’re starting their first year of high school! Wow.

Onwards to Year 10!


665 – Leon’s Choice

Before any D&D diehards start talking about the rules being broken here, know a couple of things:
  1. Yes, I do know that Brother Leon is too low in level to be casting Resurrect. He’s about 3rd level, whereas casting the Resurrect spell requires the cleric to be 13th level or higher.
  2. This is a D&D-inspired webcomic, not a “by the book” webcomic. If it fits the purpose of the story, I’ll bend or break the rules as I see fit. Within reason, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


664 – A Price Must Be Paid

Daaaang, son! Way to live your faith Leon!

Hey, want to see what happens next? For $2 a month you can join the MeatShield Patreon community and get early access to the latest MeatShield comic, one week before the rest of humanity! That works out to about 7 cents a day – not too shabby!

Also, would you like to see a little video series I put out called The MeatShield Minute? How about getting a custom color digital sketch of your own? Have you ever wanted to be IN a MeatShield comic? You can! Just go over to the MeatShield Patreon page and join the community!

By joining the MeatShield Patreon community, you help keep this strip running and help me fight off having to get a day job ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you’ve ever thought about joining up, now is a great time to do it!

Take care,


661 – No Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator required!

Maybe that gadget of Philo’s in panel one is a Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator? You’d have to take that up with Philo.

Ugh. Just ugh. This summer has been brutal. I moved from California to Texas with my eyes open – I knew humidity would come into play, I’ve dealt with it before. However, HOLY CRAP does this summer suck! The combination of heat and humidity are way worse than I’ve ever experienced before and I’ve been in South Florida in August, so I know what I’m talking about.

Just thought I’d complain a bit. I’m done now. Sorry to bother. Be about your day. ๐Ÿ™‚


659 – Malvat Magh

Wow. That’s pretty cold, Malvat, looting the body of one of your dead apprentices. Then again, what D&D player worth their salt hasn’t at least thought of looting their buddy’s corpse when their character dies?

Ray: “You know, until you get raised from the dead, you’re not going to have much use for this Staff of the Archmage, Gary… and why don’t I take this stapler, too?”

Gary: “um, okay, but I’m going set the building on fire.”

Take care,


658 – CHOMP!!

Good girl, Vorpal, good girl!!

We are now moved into our new place in the Lone Star State, just in time for record heat waves approaching 109 degrees. I would write more, but it’s too freaking hot, folks. I’m going to Costco now so I can hang out in the walk-in produce freezer until they kick me out.

Stay cool, everybody,


657 – Philo’s on the move!

Ahh, yes, the Great Onomatopoeia Battle of 2018, I remember it well… I love sound effects. ๐Ÿ™‚

And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia…


Magic exists in many forms on Ardris. There is divine magic wielded by devout clerics or self-righteous druids; arcane magic controlled by studious wizards, unpredictable sorcerers or irreverent bards. Then you have the folks who figure there’s GOT to be a cooler way to cast a fireball spell without using bat guano, usually involving a lot of gears, steam, and bronze tubing. These are the Artificers.

The practice of Artificery is a very new and experimental one. As such, it attracts new students bored with the traditional ways of magic like moths to a flame. “Sure, I could learn to cast Lightning Bolt. That is, if I really wanted to wave my arms around like a lunatic, mutter a lot of nonsense words, and then use some fur and a rod of amber as material components (which get consumed in the process, I might add). Wouldn’t it be far cooler if you could make a handheld device that could do the same thing? Plus, spellbooks are heavy.”

In addition to their talent for creating magical devices, artificers are also especially good at working out the functions of existing magic items, determining if items are cursed, and they are trained in techniques to drain and store the magical essence contained in most magic items (destroying the item in the process) and reapplying it to one of their own devices, which greatly lowers the creation cost.

There are no academies or conservatories that teach artificery. Most artificers learn their art either from a mentor or through dangerous trial-and-error. It is theorized that the number of living artificers in the world would be much higher if only some of them had used basic safety protocols or at least thought twice before ingesting 10 pounds gunpowder (we’re looking at you, Uncle Todd – RIP).

Famous Artificers include “Doctor” Ocnohr the Crafty, who invented the Follicle-O-Matic hair regrowth apparatus; Meobre of Mikiltuum, who created both the blasting rod and the world’s first folding kayak; and Tekeb Mohs, who invents the first time machine in about 45 years.

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia , volume 1 (Aahz to Attempter, the Great), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.

Yes, Artificery is a real word. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


656 – Roll Initiative!

Temporal Duplicates for the win!

For the past week, I have felt the same way as Fuschia in the second panel as I’ve been fighting bronchitis in North Texas in the summer. Yech. I’ll come up with an interesting blog post for next week’s comic. In the meantime, I’m going to go cough and blow my nose for a while. ๐Ÿ™

Take care (and stay well!),


655 – YARRGH!

I really like how this one came out.:)

Well, folks, as much as I tried to work ahead (and I did – boy howdy, did I) and have comics ready to go while I was moving my family across the country, I didn’t quite hit the mark. So, after today, MeatShield will be on hiatus until July 6th. However, I will be posting The MeatShield Minute on the Patreon page from the road, so no worries there.

What’s The MeatShield Minute? Glad you asked. I recently re-worked the rewards tiers on the MeatShield Patreon page. Everyone who joins at the $5 level (or “Monk” level) gets access to a weekly 1-5 minute long vlog where I discuss D&D, comics, or anything that pops into my pretty little head. By the way, do the kids still use that word? “Vlog?” Is that still “hep?” ๐Ÿ˜‰ Also, if that’s a bit much for you, everyone at the $2 level (“Bard” level) now gets one week early access to the latest MeatShield comic!

See you all in a few weeks from the Lone Star State!


653 – What do we have here?

They got their matching robes at Blue Hand Troll’s House of Stuff and Things. Hmm, haven’t heard from Blue in a while…

In a little under three weeks, I will be leaving California for the Lone Star State. While I’m not maudlin about leaving LA, there are some things about Southern California that I will miss (other than friends and family):

  1. No or very little humidity in the summer.
  2. Cool evenings even in the middle of summer.
  3. KTLA Morning News and KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic. I know I can watch/listen to them online, but it’s not the same.
  4. Being less than an hour away from the Pacific Ocean.
  5. The Los Angeles Dodgers. I’m a third-generation Dodger fan who’s moving to Texas Rangers Country. However, I have no problem rooting for the Rangers since they are American League and the Dodgers are National League. The odds of the two of them facing off in the World Series is so remote as to be laughable. However, if it does come down that, Go Big Blue!

Things I’m looking forward to in Texas:

  1. Whataburger, Taco Cabana, Texas Land and Cattle (Texas’ answer to Black Angus), and Texadelphia.
  2. HEB Central Market
  3. The State Fair of Texas
  4. Half-Price Books
  5. KERA
  6. No state income tax
  7. People who are friendly on the street, even if they don’t know you from Adam.

I’m sure there’s more to add to both lists, I just can’t think of any more.

19 days and counting…




651 – Anyone got a Plan B? Or C? How about D?

Update from the Land of Packing Boxes

Our move to the Lone Star State next month soldiers on, step by step. My house is slowly filling with cardboard boxes bought from a place called (imaginatively enough) Box City. Funny story: when my girls were little and they would ask me where we going, if I wanted the destination to be a surprise I would tell them that we were going to some really boring location, such as the Cardboard Store ( a name I made up with my huge brain). Lo and behold, the “Cardboard Store” actually exists!

Anyway, I am working my butt off to get 8 strips done win the next few weeks so that there won’t be any hiatus, even though I said previously that there would be one. Cross your fingers!

Take care,


650 – You gotta think of your future in a job like this.

The thing about Chinchillas is that they can live to be up to 20 years old. My brother-in-law recently found this out with his little girl, who wanted a chinchilla and he figured it would be around 5, maybe 7 years, tops.

Thanks for all the wishes of luck for my impending move back to the Lone Star State. Right now, we’re at the stage where we just want to get everything packed up and go now, but we can’t because the girls are still in school and we still have to live in the house until mid-June. I’m surrounded by cardboard boxes that my wife and I are just aching to get assembled and filled.

See you all next week!


649 – He wears white after Labor Day, too!

That Rochar, he’s a rebel, that one.

Last week, I mentioned big news. The big news is…

We’re moving back to Texas!

This is something that my family and I have been mulling over for over 5 years. Southern California, while it never has been the most affordable place to live (unless you live waaaaaay out in the desert), has become too expensive. Plus, my wife’s family lives in the North Texas area and my daughters are about to start high school, so this is the best time for us to stage a move like this so they can have 4 years in the same high school. The lack of state income tax and already having good friends in the area only sweetens the deal.

This does mean that in mid-June I’ll be putting the strip on hiatus, as it’s kind of hard to drive a U-Haul and draw at the same time. ๐Ÿ™‚ More details as I get them.

Take care,


648 – In your face, Maureen!

A couple of random thoughts:

  1. If there were ever to be a MeatShield convention, I would be disappointed if it weren’t named Vorp-Con.
  2. Volothamp Geddarm, or “Volo” for short, is essentially the Rick Steves of the Forgotten Realms, only Rick Steves has common sense.I could see Volo endorsing a chain of cross-planar fast food joints. If you don’t know Volo, then you’re probably living a blessed life.
  3. Ambush Bug is my spirit animal. He was the Tick before the Tick was the Tick, if you know what I mean. ๐Ÿ™‚
  4. Big announcement coming in the next few weeks! Stand by!

Take care,


645 – Love is in the air….

Not too sure what’s going on here? Take a look at this and then this. That ought to bring you back up to speed. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tonight, my friends, I get to play D&D. Not run D&D as a DM, but play as a player. Ever since Xanathar’s Guide to Everything came out, I have been chomping at the bit to play a particular kind of fighter listed in that book: the Arcane Archer. Basically, I want to play Green Arrow/Hawkeye in D&D. ๐Ÿ™‚ My character is a half-elf named Corvus. He’s awesome. Just in case you were curious.

Now, some among you who are really familiar with the rules of D&D Fifth Edition may be thinking, “Rob, that’s not the most effective race to choose if you want to play an arcane archer. You should have chosen an elf, tabaxi, etc. etc…” To you I say, “Thanks for the advice, but the character’s backstory, and by extension the overall story of the game itself, is more important to me than number-crunching. That, and me am cartoonist – not good with the maths and the logics. ;)”

I’ll let you all know how it goes.

Take care,


643 – The lab is next to the rec room

Hmm, that coat looks familiar….

I’m thinking of restructuring the rewards tiers for the MeatShield Patreon membership. Here are the reward tiers as they stand now, with editorial comment afterwards:

  • $1.00 per month (Barbarian Level) – Access to the MeatShield Patreon Feed. I don’t think this needs to be changed too much, but I do need to post more on the feed itself other than “Hey, there’s a new Sneak Peek available!”
  • $2.00 per month (Bard Level) – Benefits include the above plus your name on the MeatShield Patreon Wall of Awesome. For an extra dollar a month, that does seem a bit weak.
  • $5.00 per month (Monk Level) – All of the above, plus access to the newest MeatShield comic one week early. I think this is a solid reward, but may be at a slightly higher price point than it needs to be.
    Then there’s a huge jump in price to…
  • $20.00 a month (Archmage Level) – You get all of the above plus after four consecutive pledges at this level, you get a cameo in a MeatShield strip. So far, two cameos have been done and I had a blast doing them. I don’t think this one needs to change in either reward or price.

Some rewards I’ve toyed with include getting a social media avatar with four consecutive pledges, access to live streaming me drawing on Twitch, etc. I’m open to any all suggestions. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care, everybody!


642 – “Maybe it’ll be more of a challenge if I wore a blindfold?

I have a dilemma: I would love to play in a D&D group on Twitch, but what often happens whenever I want to play D&D, I end up DMing. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I do enjoy it, but I wouldn’t want to be the DM of a Twitch stream; I’m no Matthew Mercer or Chris Perkins. In case anyone’s interested in recruiting me, I’ve been drawing a D&D comic strip since 2009 and spent some time in the late ’90s doing stand-up comedy, so I both know the game and me am a good talker and funny. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Have your people call my people.

Take care,


641 – Rochar and Markie the Wonder Dog

I gotta say, The Inconspicuous Inn is starting to grow on me as a tavern name, supplanting my previous favorite, The Inn of the Moaning Lungfish.

Here we finally meet Rochar, a D&D character run by MeatShield Patreon patron Foradain! Described as a halfing archer and ranger, Rochar is slightly taller than most halflings and has as both his animal companion and riding mount Markie, a German Shepard mix. He’s in one more strip after this and has an important part to play in Nomos’ rebellion.

See you next time!


640 – Welcome to the Rebellion!

They’re giant floating skulls, not rocket scientists. ๐Ÿ™‚

Who’s Rochar, you ask? Glad you did! Rochar is the name of a D&D character of one of my longtime readers and frequent Patreon patron, Foradain! I haven’t mentioned it much lately, but if you become a patron at the $20/month level, you get the reward of having yourself or your D&D character appear in a cameo in a MeatShield strip! Go check it out! If that’s a little too steep for you, there are other contribution options too!

Take care,


638 – Welcome to Nabbai!

Figuratively! They can figuratively smell fear!

Yes, I about near killed my hand drawing all those bricks. The next comic strip I do is going to be nothing but talking colored shapes, like triangles and polyhedrons.;)

Thank you all for participating in the survey I posted in the last blog post. So far, 89 people have taken part! The survey will be open until Monday, Feb.12, so if you haven’t taken it yet and would like to help me out, just click the “Previous” button above and scroll down to the blog post.

I’ll be putting up some of the info collected later on, once I get done going through it all with my crack marketing team (read: me and my awesome and marketing-savvy wife). Thanks once again! ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


637 – Bro Hugs!

Bad attitudes don’t last forever. At least, in Ghar’s case they don’t. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have a favor to ask: I’m trying to get better about marketing MeatShield. It’s one step on the road to being a full-time cartoonist, so I whipped up this little survey to get some very basic info. Help a dude out and take it? It’s completely anonymous. Thanks!

Thanks for wanting to help me out by taking my survey. Unfortunately, this survey was closed on Feb 12, 2018. ~Rob

Take care, and thanks again!

635 – Ewww! Mommm!!

Parents know just how to embarrass you, especially in front of your friends.

We’re back! I finished up my temporary assignment with FEMA on Dec. 14, then drove to North Texas for the holidays. Over my time at FEMA, I helped survivors of FIVE different disasters (four hurricanes and the Northern California wildfires). I learned a lot. One of the things I learned was this: as much as I’m glad I was able to help the survivors, I would much rather be working as a full time cartoonist, so 2018 is the year I’m really going to try to make this happen.

These aren’t necessarily New Year Resolutions; just goals for the coming year, both professionally and personally. Here’s what I’ve decided to do:

  1. I’ve removed the advertising from the site, (except for the Patreon ads) as almost everybody and their brother uses adblocking software (I know Iย do) and the checks from Google have been fewer and farther between, so there’s really no point to keeping ads up.
  2. Work is resuming on Book Three – “The Tomb of Errors”, which had unfortunately fallen by the wayside. Also, to those of you who have ordered commissions, work will resume on those as well – I appreciate your patience.
  3. Due to the fact that I rarely use it, I will no longer be using Twitter.
  4. I will learn how to ask for help. This is a big one with me, as I usually don’t want to bother folks with my problems. I have to keep reminding myself that sometimes people are only too happy to help me out, but only if I let them know I need the help.

I think that’s enough for now. Welcome back everyone!

Take care,


634 – I was on a roll

I have some news; some good, some bad.

The Good News: After over 8 years of unemployment, where I was attempting to make a living as a cartoonist, I have taken a job with FEMA, helping survivors of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The Bad News: Due to the nature of FEMA deployment, I will be working 7 days a week for the foreseeable future, working 10 hours days. Added to that the 1 hour commute on both ends and I will barely have time to sleep, let alone draw and post new MeatShield comics.

What all this adds up to is I need to put MeatShield on hold until roughly January 20, 2018, which is currently the end of my deployment. I apologize to all of you, Patrons and non-Patrons alike, but doing this is the best thing for both my family and the survivors I will be helping.

Thank you all for reading and being there for me. I hope to see you all in about 4 months or so.

Take care.


633 – You gotta have faith!

This is the kind of thing that happens when your primary weapon is an intelligent magical artifact – every once in a while, it has something to say, and it’s usually something you don’t want to hear.

I made this announcement earlier in the week on the MeatShield Patreon page, but realized that I should mention something here: Starting next week, all $5 and up patrons on the Patreon page will be getting access to the new strip one WEEK ahead of time. There will be a mid-week post to set all that up. Go check it out!

By the way, Becky’s not being racist; it’s more like a blood feud, like the Hatfields and the McCoys (kids, ask your parents or go look it up on Wikipedia).

Take care,


632 – DUERGAR!

Wow, Becky sure is ticked off! In other news…


Eight years ago today I launched Meatshield.net! Since 2009, a lot has happened, good and bad. I’ve met (via the Interwebs) a lot of great people, learned a great deal about being a cartoonist and a business owner (still working on that last one), published two books with a third one on the way, lost a parent, and seen my girls go all the way through elementary school and into junior high. Through it all, you folks have been there for me: reading, commenting, and (hopefully) sharing the exploits of the Royal Unnamed Adventuring Company #47. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. ๐Ÿ™‚

Next week, we start Year Nine!

Take care,


630 – Have we met?

You ever look at pictures of yourself when you were a lot younger and shook your head at your fashion and/or hairstyle choices? That’s kind of what it’s like for me looking back at my older work, which I recently had to do to see how I drew both Mona (Dhur’s Mom) and Ghar. Man, I had very little to no idea of proportion back then! My character’s heads were SO big back then! *sigh*

Every so often, I come across some cool D&D-related stuff online. I may be late to the game with this, but I have been trying out this new website for generating character sheets that is actually pretty cool. OrcPub2 (not to be confused with the earlier OrcPub) is a pretty responsive character generator and they’ve got a Kickstarter going for a mobile version, which would be awesome. Go take a look!

That’s all for now!

Take care,


629 – He’s a laugh riot, all right.

Hey, no one said parenting half-orcs would be easy!

ย  I have a tiny favor to ask, folks. I’ve been learning more about SEO (search engine optimization). This is so that more people can discover MeatShield, and thus live better, slimmer, debt-free, happier lives with clear complexions and thicker, more lustrous hair ;).
ย  What I discovered is this: that while “liking” or “favoriting” my posts and tweets is nice, they do nothing for me from a SEO standpoint. Shares and retweets, however โ€“ those are gold. So here’s the favor I ask of you: If you do indeed like the strip, great! Thanks! Please hit the “Share” or “retweet” buttons also. That’s it.
ย ย  Some of you already do this (because I see when you do it – and thanks for that, you guys!), but I can use all the help I can get.
ย ย  Thanks.
Take care,

626 -“I’m helpering!”

Just read the blog post title with the voice of Ralph Wiggums from the Simpsons. It’ll make sense. ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, last time I had a little mini-rant about Doctor Who. It’s nice to know that most folks reading this are pretty much of the same mind as I am regarding Jodie Whittaker’s casting. You folks rock.

Now, on to the next topic: D&D Beyond.

D&D Beyond, if you haven’t heard of it, is Wizards of the Coast’s online character builder/campaign manager. On the face of it, it looks pretty slick and is more-or-less responsive. The current version is their beta build, and it will be going public on August 15 for $3 per month for players and $6 per month for DMs and groups. The only problem I have with it is that you have to buy the online versions of the rules for full functionality. For example, the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Monster Manual together cost $29.95. In my opinion, if you already have the print books, there should be a provision to get the online versions for a discount or free, unlikely as that might be.

Overall, I think it shows promise. However, I reserve full judgement until I can see the full version in play – the version available in the beta test only allows access from the base game’s System Resource Document. This ends up severely limiting your character build options. I also wonder how content from WotC’s Unearthed Arcana articles (such as the Mystic or the Artificer) will be slotted in, if at all. There is an option to get access to homebrewed content, so maybe it will take that form. We’ll see.

That’s all for me – take care everybody!


625 – Reunited!

Man, you leave him unattended for two seconds…

I’m seeing lots of “Doctor Who’s gonna be a WOMAN??? Nuh-uh! He’s a dude!” (or words to that effect) posts popping up on my Facebook feed, many by people that I ordinarily find to be progressive, rational people. My response? About. Frikkin’. Time. They made the Master into Missy and NO ONE had a problem with it and Michelle Gomez hit it out of the park. The Doctor a woman? Why the hell not? Iโ€™m sure Ms. Whittaker will do a great job and bring her own subtle nuances to the role that all of the former Doctors brought.
Also, to anyone out there who is applauding Ms. Whittakerโ€™s casting by saying that she is breaking the gender barrier for being cast as the first female lead in a sci-fi TV show? Kate Mulgrew (a.k.a.Captain Kathryn Janeway of Star Trek Voyager) would like to have a few words with you. Just saying.

623 – Toots? Really?

Plus, Becky talks to her god and he talks back. She also has a puppy that has a history of eating entire inns.

I am off for the Lone Star State as of July 4th, so my daughters (in their first airplane ride ever) may get to watch the fireworks from above! I plan on keeping the strip updated while I’m away, so no worries there. However, since I won’t be writing one of these posts until after July 4th, Happy Independence Day, America!

Also, to all my Canadian friends, have a great Canada Day (July 1st)!

Take care,


626 – “…Or was it ‘The Goats,’ plural?”

Nothing like having a little… leverage on a scumbag. ๐Ÿ™‚

Often, when I write my characters, I hear their voices in my head. I’ve talked about this before. I used to hear either Billy Bob Thornton’s character from Sling Blade or Yosemite Sam when I wrote Carl, but now? Now, I hear Michael Rooker’s voice as Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy. Still very redneck-y, though.

Take care,


625 – She minored in Rogue Studies

Yes, Carl named the ship himself. No, that’s not a typo. ๐Ÿ™‚

Since my daughters’ birthday lands on Father’s Day, my family decided to do Father’s Day for me today (6/17/17). Twin #1 made me several handmade chocolate candies, which were awesome.:)

Twin #2 made me this:

She took a Beginning Ceramics class and at the beginning of the class she decided to make me a Green Lantern Power Ring for Father’s Day! This reminds me of a story…

In 2008, I was living in Las Vegas and applied for a customer service job with Zappos.com. Their job application was… unique in that it looked kind of like a coloring book. It had a word search, a trivia quiz and the following question: “What superhero would you be and why?” I answered it with the following: “I have been waiting for years for someone to ask me that! Green Lantern, and I’ll tell you why!” I told them why, although I don’t remember what I wrote.

So, uh, yeah, I like Green Lantern.

Take care (and Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there),


624 – Hey there, Carl!

Long time no see, Carl! Forgot about that ol’ thief Carl Bitter-Ore (or never heard of him)? Click here to see his debut!

No, this isn’t The Patty Duke Show, folks (kids, ask your parents). Carl and Leon just look a lot alike. Case in point: in my family, the men look a great deal alike. I bear an extraordinary resemblance to my father (except for the nose he broke playing football), and so on with my grandfather and his brothers. So, it can happen. ๐Ÿ™‚

See you next time,


621 – Nighty-night Stupids!

I thought clerics were supposed to have high Wisdom scores?

Breaking News: I expect to have the third MeatShield Book, The Tomb of Errors, available by July 1st, 2017! As in the last two books, this will have special additions to it, including Philo’s stats. However, I am entertaining suggestions for other bits of bonus material. What would you all like to see in the next book?

Take care,


620 – “Who knew liquor was THAT flammable?”

Dhur just put one whole point into his Bluff skill and is itching to use it!

While I was drawing this strip, something occurred to me: how would a Dungeons & Dragons-style city handle emergencies like fires, giant sinkholes, hurricanes, and earthquakes? Would there be a department that handles such matters, like a fantasy-world version of FEMA? I mean, sure, you might be able to call upon the Royal Mage or whoever for the occasional fix, especially if whatever happened actually affects them directly (i.e. There is a fire threatening the city library, or a giant’s hurled boulders just smashed the best brewery in town). However, after being called upon for the 12th time to help with a fire at the local creamery, any wizard might get a bitโ€ฆ testy and resent the time taken away from their studies.

Given that I have established that in Ardris (the world MeatShield takes place in) there are artificers (which, for the uninitiated, are kind of like magical MacGyvers, making magical devices out of almost anything), I imagine they would be the ones called upon to help in this manner. Not that they would be terribly happy about it either.

Do you have any ideas for how the City-State of Kilanio might normally put out a fire like this? Leave me your ideas below in the comments!

Take care,


619 – He said it involved something called a “Flaming Moe?”

So, this is happening…

I’m really excited about the Patreon campaign starting back up, if you can’t tell. However, It dawned on me that some among you might not know all you get by becoming a patron of MeatShield. Here’s a look at the Patreon reward tiers:

Babarian – $1 or more per month
The call of the wild sings through your blood as a Barbarian! You’ll get access to the MeatShield Patreon news feed, with tidbits of news, ramblings and musings! Who doesn’t love ramblings and musings? Other than orcs, that is. That’s a given.

Bard – $2 or more per month
You have a fine appreciation for the arts and have become a Bard! You have earned my thanks and gratitude, access to the MeatShield Patreon news feed, along with your name (or the name of your D&D character) inscribed upon the Patreon Wall of Awesome on the main MeatShield site!

Monk – $5 or more per month
You have centered your chi and become a Monk! As such, you are entitled to not only the previous rewards, but also to view the newest MeatShield comic one day early here on Patreon!

Paladin – $10 or more per month
You have taken up arms to defend the helpless as a Paladin! Such holy might grants you all of the above rewards, plus access to a special Patreon-only sketch blog, updated three times per week!

Archmage – $20 or more per month
The secrets of the multiverse are at your fingertips as an Archmage! This arcane knowledge grants you all of the previous rewards, plus, after four consecutive pledges at this level, a one-time cameo of yourself (or whoever you’d like) in a future MeatShield strip!

MeatShield will always be available to read for free right here, but there is oh so much more available to you as a patron and more rewards to come… as soon as I think of them, that is. I’m open to suggestions!

In the words of Joel Hodgson, “Think about it won’t you? Thank you.”

Take care,


618 – Hush, Lyria’s reading.

After the last strip, this one and the one following it, I think I’ll be done drawing bookshelves for the foreseeable future. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lyria is the creation of loyal and longtime MeatShield reader Janessa R. Some among you might remember that I had a Patreon campaign running for about a year. By contributing at different tiers, you got different rewards. At the tier Janessa contributed at, she was rewarded with the ability to have either herself, someone she knows, or a character of her own creation make a cameo appearance in the strip! Ergo, the “Semi-reclusive wizard with a limited social life, Lyria Iliathor.”

Think you might like in on some of this action? Glad to hear it. I have set a date for the Patreon campaign to resume: May 1st, 2017.ย  I’ll be announcing its launch on both the Twitter feed and the MeatShield Facebook page.

See you next week!


617 – The Toviat Library

*massages hand and wrist after drawing the third panel*

Ouch. That’s a lotta detail.

And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia…


Situated on the grounds of the University of Kilanio, the Toviat Library is the greatest repository of knowledge in the world. Named after Oslof Toviat, the first dean of the University, the library is also the home of the editors and researchers of the Encyclopedia Ardrisia, which is (as of this writing) currently undergoing revisions for its 49th edition.

The library covers 434,712 square feet and consists of five floors (two above ground, three below). Noteworthy features include the Elavรฉ Genealogical Research Center, the Sutter Thaumaturgy Wing, and the library’s Restricted Research Section, which houses tomes and manuscripts that are either so ancient and delicate as to require specialized care or are so unpredictably powerful that they are best kept out of the hands of the average patron. Access to the Restricted Research Section is by appointment only.

There are over 2,500 seats for in house study. During the fall and spring semesters, the building is open 85 hours a week. The Library is heavily used with a gate count of nearly 1.5 million annually, and over 25,000 reference questions answered per year by very beleaguered and frankly underpaid librarians, many of whom contribute to the Encyclopedia itself.

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia , volume 46 (Tenserโ€™s Slipped Discs to Tripwire Stew), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.

Take care,

615 – Long Live King James

I’ll be frank with you folks: some of these strips, while they do advance the story, are also just for me. This is one of them. For those of you new to the strip, I lost my father in June of 2015. His name was (and is) Jimmy Chambers. I planned on naming the soon-to-arrive infant king of Westhame after him several months ago and I’ve finally gotten to it now. Better late than never, Dad. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m taking the next week off, as it is Spring Break here and I have two 12 year-olds bouncing off the walls wanting to go swimming every day. See you in two weeks!

Take care,


613 – Aww, Shucks!

One of the rules of writing comedy (or whatever it is that I do) is that you shouldn’t explain the joke. Explaining a joke is the surest route to killing said joke. However, I realize that not everyone reading this has been playing D&D since the late 70’s, so… I’m about to explain the previous strip. God help me. ๐Ÿ™‚

OK, here we go: back in 1975, Gary Gygax (the co-creator of D&D) created the quintessential adventuring party-killing story (or module) called The Tomb of Horrors. It was (and is) renowned for being fiendishly difficult and among the many traps and terrors in that module is the Green Devil Face. It looks much like the one seen in the last strip and many a soul has been disintegrated by climbing inside inside the devil’s mouth because the mouth actually functions in a similar manner as a magical artifact called a Sphere of Annihilation. Anything that comes in contact with it is completely and utterly destroyed, except magic items (such as Franz’ sword).

So, there you go. See you all next week!


610 – “And put out the little soaps shaped like roses too!”

And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia…

Kilanio Royal Palace

Also known by the nickname “Warpwood Estate,” the palace of the ruling family of Westhame has it origins dating back to the founding of the kingdom by The Magnificent Nine, the heroes who explored the western half of the continent of Ardris. Built by hand by the paladin Kilanio herself (and it shows), the palace is a rustic affair of timbers, stonework, and stucco, the last being a common building material due to the temperate climate. It is also small, dated and drafty. However, the people of Kilanio are fond of tradition and history, so Warpwood has stayed the home of the ruling family, as much as they would have it otherwise.

Warpwood Estate has a total of 10 bedrooms, 4 indoor bathrooms, a wine cellar, throneroom, offices and recently, a nursery.

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia , volume 14 (Jynga Riot to Kodann Armada), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.

I had planned to launch the new Patreon page this week, but I have instead spent most of this past week working on the strip, finishing a commission, and learning how to use iMovie so that I can put out a decent video for said Patreon page. When I have it ready, you guys will be the first to know.

Take care,

609 – Kilanio, The City of the Seven Towers

One of these days, I’m going draw a comic strip that doesn’t have a metric ton of detail in it. No cityscapes, no horses, etc. Yep, one day… ๐Ÿ™‚

Next week, I’m going to be restarting the Patreon campaign for MeatShield. I’ve learned a few things since I ran my last one and I’m ready to dive into those waters again. Recent events have galvanized my resolve to make MeatShield a going concern, but I can’t do it without you folks. I kind of feel like the PBS pledge drive people: “…and at the $25 level, you get both the exclusive totebag and the coffee mug!” I’ll let you all know via the Twitters and the Facebooks when the Patreon campaign goes live. I’ll be re-tooling the rewards to make them more appropriate (and producible, on my end) to a Patreon campaign and not a Kickstarter (which was the model I used before). Wish me luck!

See you all next week!


608 – Dwarves can be Emo too, ya know

Note to observant and/or longtime readers: Yes, I did retcon Kilanio’s descriptor just a tad, from “City of Towers,” to “City of Seven Towers.” Why? Two reasons: 1) It sounds cooler this way, and 2) seven towers are a lot easier to draw than an entire city of them. ๐Ÿ™‚ Besides, there’s already a City of Towers in the Eberron campaign setting.

Also, there were some comments recently about what game system MeatShield is modeled on. For the record: I don’t have any one game system in mind when I write the strip, although obviously D&D would be the frontrunner. However, it could just as easily be Dungeon World, Hero System or GURPS (Okay, maybe not GURPS). Jaine casts Fireballs because she came upon some bat guano (the material component for that spell) and cast it because it helped the story along. Story trumps (I hate using that word now) everything, including game system accuracy. That’s also why, although Ch’p is a monk, he’s not that good at healing and has never cast a clerical spell in his life.

Take care,


607 – How have they managed without one this long?

In D&D, there has always been four classes that, nine times out of ten, make up your standard adventuring party: Fighter (or “fighting-man” as it was originally called), Wizard (or “magic-user”), Rogue (“thief”) and Cleric, the guy who can heal with a touch and ward off undead. The fact that our little gang of misfits has survived this long without someone there to patch them up either speaks to their toughness or to the fact that most of their fights haven’t been all that bad. Either that, or Dhur owns stock in a Healing Potion Brewery. Hmm… beer that heals… I like that idea. Too bad it already exists: I believe it’s called Guinness Stout. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, welcome to the Unnamed Royal Adventuring Company #47, Brother Leon!

606 – She has a Kung-Fu Action Grip!

Speaking of action figures and their accessories… I have an awesome brother-in-law who is all about the 3D printing on a professional level and a while back he asked me to make a turnaround sheet for the Nailmoor Sledge (Becky’s talking, ornery hammer). A few months later, this is what he showed me:

20161202_232824AIn’t that neat? So, might anyone want one of these as a keychain fob or something like that? I’m gauging interest right now.

See you next week – oh, and Happy New Year (belatedly)!


605 – Divine 401K, anyone?

I’m pretty sure Becky knows how short the careers of most paladins are and the odds of collecting on any pension; she’s just grousing right now.

I’ll be taking the next two weeks off for the holidays, so in the meantime, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Holidays to any other holidays I may have missed. See you in 2017!

Take care,


604 – It’s hard to get humility out of rugs

I have recently been told that I am hard to shop for vis-a-vis Christmas. I contend that I am easy to shop for – just buy me the books listed on my Amazon wish list, but not everyone wants to buy nothing but books for me. This puts me in a “First World Problems” sort of situation of asking for advice on what to have people get for me. Any ideas?

Oh, and if any of you are so inclined, here’s my Amazon Wish List.

See you next week!


603 – Mmmm, Ram Kebabs!

This cartoon is going live on Wednesday, November 23, which is the day before Thanksgiving here in the US. I know it’s a tad clichรฉd to talk about what you’re thankful for at this time of year, but here goes (I’ll make it short, I promise):

  1. I am thankful for my wife and my children, who have helped me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
  2. I am thankful to have a roof over my head, food on my table, unpolluted water to drink, and decent schools for my kids.
  3. I am thankful for my family and friends, who love me and support me even when they don’t necessarily understand what I’m doing. Case in point: My wonderful mother-in-law reads my strip even though D&D humor is definitely not her cup of tea.
  4. I am thankful for the stress release valve and creative outlet roleplaying games can be. I’ve needed it, especially after the past year and a half.
  5. I am thankful for all of you. A cartoonist (or any artist, really) cannot do what they do without an audience. An actor without an audience is just somebody reciting lines on stage to themselves. A writer or cartoonist without a readership is much the same. Thank you for reading and for commenting and just generally being the best readers I could ask for.

That’s what I’m thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I’m taking next week off, so I’ll see you all on December 7.

Take care,


601 – Yietzas!

Yes, in my world, magical clothing/armor have endure elements imbued in them. Why? Because comics, that’s why. ๐Ÿ™‚

This strip is going live on Election Day here in the US. Today is probably the most stressful election in decades for everyone, no matter what side of the fence you sit on. Like a lot of you, I’m scared. I’m scared because polls can be wrong. I’m scared because there is a chance, however slight at this point, that a man with little to no self-control and non-existent morals may end up in the Oval Office.

I don’t care who you vote for. Vote for Hilary. Vote for Stein. Vote for Johnson. Heck, write in Dhur! He would definitely do a better job than He Who Must Not Be Named But Whose Name Rhymes with Dump. Just don’t sit at home. That way lies the Dark Side.

Okay, I’m done. Remember, his full name is “Dhur, Son of Dhoh.”

God help us all,


600 – You can never go wrong with ointment

We should all fear Becky’s Slapping Hand, for it is powerful.

For those of you who are new to the strip and are wondering why there is a DING sound effect over Dhur’s head in panel #4, allow me to explain: The way I work experience for these characters (a la D&D) is that every 100 strips sees them go up a level. In World of Warcraft, the DING sound effect denotes a character leveling up. We’re at Strip #600, so now the gang are all at 6th level now (or in Becky’s case, multiclassed as Fighter 3/Paladin 3). Now they can really start to do some damage. ๐Ÿ™‚

Wow. 600 comic strips.ย  Pretty sweet.

See you next time,


599 – MA!!!!

I’m really enjoying playing D&D again, after DMing for so long. Wanna hear about my character? SURE you do! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m running a Human Diviner named Elias Banrion (Elias from the Prophet Elias, Banrion from the Irish for Queen, as in Ellery Queen – here’s who that is). Eliasย  (Eli to his friends) is a fully licensed Inquisitive from the City of Sharn on Eberron who was transported, along with all the other PCs, to the Village of Barovia in the Ravenloft campaign setting. So far, it’s been awesome.

In the midst of writing the above paragraph, I received a call from my best friend. His mother passed away at 8:30AM on 10/24/16. Paul’s folks were always like second parents to me, so I kind of feel how I did when my Dad passed away over a year ago.

Take care, everyone.


598 – Dhur, stop trying to help.

He’s like an eager 5-year old who’s just been entrusted with setting the dinner table and wants to help EVEN MORE!!

And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia…


The practice of Chronomancy deals with the magical manipulation of time. One of (if not THE) most dangerous fields of arcane study, Chronomancy allows a wizard schooled in it to speed up, slow down, or even halt time itself for a brief period, relative to the caster. Chronomancers who are truly masters of the craft are even able to travel through time, although unshielded time travel can wreak havoc on the psyche. Often, shielded vessels of some sort are employed to maintain sanity and to maintain relative dimension in time and space.

One of the trickiest chronomantic spells is the Temporal Reversion Field, which allows the mage to magically envelope a large area, cause inanimate objects within that field to revert to their original conditions, and then lock those conditions into place in the current timeframe. One would imagine this would make home restoration a breeze, but there is the downside of completely rupturing the space-time continuum.

There is little to no modern day research being done in this field, as far as we know. The most recent research was known to have been done somewhere in the southern regions of the Empire of Kunac over 200 years ago.

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia , volume 4ย  (Candletakers to Czarn Keep), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.

See you next week!
Take care,

597 – “You haven’t lived until you’ve read Shakespeare in its original Klingon”

I realized something earlier today:ย  Jaine is loaded with magic. She has the following:

  • The Verdant Mantle, which allows her to talk to animals and keeps her young (among other things);
  • Shondella’s Blessing of Connection, which allows her to understand any language (for the rules wonks out there, she has the Tongues spell cast on her along with a Permanence spell);
  • and not one but TWO Bags of Holding (those pouches on her belt), where she keeps most of the party’s gear.

I don’t think Jaine needs any more magic items for a while. If this were a real D&D game, I’d be accused of being a Monty Haul DM! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yeesh!

The Patreon page will be going back up in a couple of weeks, as I need to retool and relaunch it, hopefully this time with a video and simplified tiers of patronage and rewards.

Take care,


596 – You get an “A” for effort, Dhur

Winning streaks don’t last forever, Dhur. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have decided that MeatShield needs to go back to a weekly schedule, effective today. There’s an old saying: “First you get good, then you get fast, then you get good and fast.” I’m working on the fast part.

In other geeky news, I’m going to get to play D&D again! I usually DM and my esteemed brother-in-law is going to be running Curse of Strahd, just in time for October. I usually play oddball characters with personalities based off of TV characters. I once had a 2nd Ed. psionicist named Rasag the Incredulous whose personality was based on Ed Chigliak from Northern Exposure – kids ask your parents. Recently, I ran an Oath of Vengance Paladin whose personality was based loosely on Matthew McConaghey. This time around, I’ll be playing a straight-up wizard, something I’ve surprisingly never run before, personality yet to be determined. He’s going to be more like a detective than the typical wizard. Looking forward to it!

See you next week!


594 – At least Vorpal’s having fun!

Don’t remember our old pal Gary? Go take look here to refresh your memory.

Just to head off any continuity questions: if it was two years ago, why are the ruins still smoking? Good question, you have a fine eye for detail.:)ย  To answer that, I’ll ask you this related question: if it was two years ago, why hasn’t any snow accumulated along the tops of the ruin walls? Hmmm. Ponder that, my padawans. ๐Ÿ™‚

See you all next week!


593 – Home in Ruins

What a difference 3 months makes!

Thank you all for the extraordinarily kind words during my hiatus/sabbatical/vacation/whatever you call it. I feel much better, less burned out, and ready to draw! I really needed that. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, who might that ghostly figure be?

Take care,


** MeatShield – A Look Back and Forward **

I started publishing MeatShield on September 9, 2009, wanting to create a โ€œsort of Dungeons & Dragons sitcom.โ€ Since starting the strip Iโ€™ve moved four times, Iโ€™ve made a lot of good friends, published two books, and learned a lot about the life of a cartoonist.

However, for the past year, I have been running on fumes, from a creative standpoint. It has not been uncommon for me to be writing the next strip on the day it was due to run. Sometimes thatโ€™s a good challenge and I relish it, and other times it is just a challenge. The weeks where it has been a challenge and not a fun one have been more and more frequent of late. I need a break, folks.

There are other webcartoonists whose work I admire and several of them have taken long hiatuses, publishing their work in โ€œseasons,โ€ similar to how TV networks release their shows. As of this week, that is what I am going to do. MeatShield will be on hiatus until September 12, 2016. My Patreon campaign will be placed on hold as well until that time.

Over the next few months, I will be doing the following:
โ€ข Finishing all outstanding illustration commissions
โ€ข Letting my creative batteries recharge
โ€ข Writing the next season of MeatShield
โ€ข Taking care of myself, which I have not been very good at lately.

I will still be maintaining a social media presence via Facebook and Twitter, which will be the most effective way to get ahold of me. Thank you all for your understanding and your support over the years. I could not have come as far as I have without all of you.

Take care,


592 – We’re going to need 14 tons of spackle.

William Faulkner once gave this piece of writing advice: “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” This refers to those parts of a story that the writer has fallen in love with but aren’t needed for theย story anymore and can perhaps even be distracting to the reader.ย  It can be a character, a phrase, an image, a joke, or in this case, a monastery. We are now entering a new storyline for our heroes, the Unnamed Royal Adventuring Company #47.ย  Buckle in for….


Take care,


591 – Is this outfit machine washable?

So, what do you think of Ch’p’s new duds? His previous robes were the traditional robes worn by W’Shaa monks during their Fielding, the red and gold color scheme of which is then reversed for monks that remain in primary service to the monastery (i.e. non-adventuring monks). For the monks that are also adventurers? They can wear anything they darn well want! ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh, and to address the questions and discussions from last week about the history of Dhur’s literacy: Dhur has been functionally illiterate this entire time, since day one. However, he has managed to learn a few tricks here and there to get by, which is common for a lot of folks that struggle with illiteracy in the real world (and I am in no way way ridiculing them). If you’d like to help kids in their fight with illiteracy and growing their creativity, go check out 826LA, a non-profit that encourages creative writing and reading in the Los Angeles area. They also run the Time Traveler’s Mart, the sales from which go towards 826LA – I’ll see you there yesterday ๐Ÿ˜‰ . There are chapters of 826 in several cities in the US, check out the 826 national website for more info.

Take care,


586 – Vorp! Again!

Let’s hope Ch’p’s arm doesn’t get chopped off when the portal closes… or when Lisette gets a hold of a butcher’s knife. ๐Ÿ™‚

You have no idea how long I’ve been wanting to clean Ch’p up, but the storyline never seemed to give me a chance to work it in until now. His Naruto look-a-like days are now over!

Take care,


584 – Check yourself, Dhur

Look at it this way: if all your people were known for was overeating, running around barefoot, and hanging around with dodgy wizards, you’d be a tad defensive too.

I’m a day late with this, but May 5th was and is a very important holiday in the history of the United States. I’m of course talking about National Cartoonist’s Day. Started in 1990, it celebrates the publication of the very first American comic strip, Hogan’s Alley, by Richard F. Outcault in 1895.

I bet it’s a Federal law or something that you have to shower any cartoonist you happen to know with gifts and libations. I like coffee and books. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Take care,


583 – Passing the Divine Buck

And now, in a continuing service, an excerpt from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia…


Long after the Grand Conference, when the gods and goddesses of Ardris collaborated on the creation of the world, a new goddess simply appeared one day. There are many theories as to how Shondella arrived in Ardris, including but not limited to:

  1. Shondella is the offspring of two of the other gods and goddesses of Ardris.
  2. Shondella originated from another world and came to Ardris via interplanar travel, deciding to stay.
  3. Shondella was simply a very powerful (and short) mortal adventurer who somehow attained godhood.

No one knows which of these theories, if any, are correct. What is not in question is that once Shondella appeared, she got to work. While the other gods had cornered portfolios of influence such as Weather, Fate, Death and Librarians, there were other obvious concerns that did not have a divine caretaker. The busiest of bees, Shondella took all of the following portfolios upon herself:

  1. Fertility
  2. Children
  3. Wisdom
  4. Family
  5. Protection
  6. Diplomacy
  7. Community
  8. Prosperity
  9. Conviviality
  10. Honest Toil
  11. Multitasking

Shondella is the mother of the halfling race, many of whom share her industriousness, friendliness and short stature. Shondella is one of the few deities of Ardris who regularly walks among mortals, appearing as an attractive halfling woman with flowing reddish brown hair, dressed in well cared-for robes and sandals, and carrying her signature weapon, a birch quarterstaff called Achiever. Most halfling families lay an extra place at their table for Shondella at mealtimes, as there is always the chance that she’ll show up that night, hopefully with dessert.

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia , volume 41 (Santorโ€™s Sibiliant Swords to Slaadipuffs), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.

582 – Heroine Worship

To give you an idea how this is affecting Lisette, consider this: to monks of the W’Shaa, meeting the Three Lost Masters is a huge religious experience. Kind of like Elijah walking in the door to attend your Seder, or Elvis showing up at your barbeque. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


578 – There’s Gold in them there Ice Chunks!

Hey, it’s Jerry! Remember him? Click here to refresh your memory!

And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia.

Primordial Elements

Terr. Aer. Fajr. Aquo. These are the names of the Inner Planes, each corresponding to a classical element (earth, air, fire and water, respectively). In isolated areas of each one of these planes (and their affiliated quasi-planes such as Ashfrakseno, Voerhal, Laforni, and Vapistor, to name a few), there are small naturally occurring deposits of matter that embody the primordial essence of that plane. These primordial elements maintain a constant link with their plane of origin and are extraordinarily rare. They are most commonly sought out as components for powerful spells, although they also have their mundane uses.
โ€ข Primordial fire cannot be extinguished by any means and will burn through all but the sturdiest materials.
โ€ข Primordial earth can be used in farming, making fields incredibly fertile or as a component in building nigh-impregnable structures like forts, castles and convenience stores;
โ€ข Bottles of primordial air or water can be used as constantly replenishing supplies of air or water, respectively.
Likewise, primordial ice will never melt and will freeze all but the most insulated of materials, while primordial lightning is an artificer’s joy, providing power for their contraptions that circumvents magic altogether.

There have been rumors for centuries that a fifth Inner Plane, called the Plane of Heart, exists. This concept is often (and quite rightly) scoffed at by the world of Academia, including the High Dean of Kilanio University, who proclaimed the idea to be “lame.”

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia , volume 21 (Owlbadger to Psuedomen), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.

577 – Ice Ice Baby

Sorry about that subject heading, couldn’t resist. ๐Ÿ™‚

I probably should have warned you all last week, but this week (the week of April 5th) is Spring Break for my girls, which means every time I’ve tried to be productive in some way, I’ve been interrupted by 11-year-olds wailing “Dad, we’re BORED!” Thus, this week will be a one-strip week. Monday cannot come soon enough. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Take care, everybody!


575 – Gold-plated Ridin’ Hogs for EVERYONE!

Because, let’s face it, Dhur is one of those guys that if he existed in the real world would be tooling around on the biggest, loudest, most obnoxious Harley he could lay his mitts on.

It’s been brought to my attention that The Unnamed Royal Adventuring Company #47 (our heroes) have been woefully bereft of actual treasure during their travels. Will that change? Wait and see!

Take care,


574 – Jaine and Philo, sittin’ in a tree….

I thought about having Ch’p say “Word” to Dhur in that last panel, but I decided that a) I didn’t need it and b) It would show my age. Like I did just now, home skillet. ๐Ÿ™‚

I ran a bit behind this week, so this week will be a one-strip week. Next week, we’ll be back to the regular schedule.

I have a favor to ask of you all: if you use AdBlocker as part of your regular internet use, please whitelist meatshield.net. Right now, MeatShield is (barely) staying afloat fiscally mostly due to the kind contributions of my Patreon patrons. Before Patreon, the only ways I made any money with the strip were via book sales and ad revenue. Then AdBlocker reared its head. I use AdBlocker, as do many of you, and I have no problem with it. However, when folks started using it, I saw what little money I made via ads shrink to nearly nothing. As Dhur would say, “C’mon, help a dude out, y’know?”



573 – A Kiss Goodbye

I guess this is what happens when you make an ice sculpture of someone (and then confess a longstanding crush).

Believe it or not, it’s rather hard to draw people kissing, especially since it’s something I’d never drawn before. Y’see, it’s like there are two Robs in my head: Past Rob and Future Rob. Past Rob will often come up with awesome story ideas but without actually thinking through what it will take to realize them, trusting to Future Rob to actually do all the heavy lifting. I have come to the conclusion that Past Rob is a dick:

Past Rob: “Yeah, and then Jaine kisses him! Awesome, huh?”
Future Rob: “But I don’t know how to draw people kissing!”
Past Rob: “Not my problem, dude! Figure it out!”
Future Rob: “I hate you, Past Rob.”

Take care,


572 – The boys (and girls) are back in town!

Ahh, yes, Scrybl, the City of Shortcuts, how I’ve missed you.

I’m back from the land of influenza! I haven’t had the flu as bad as I just did in YEARS. Yech!

I had some fun with the architecture in this one. Since Scrybl is an interdimensional city, with creatures from all planes of existence walking its streets, it only makes sense that there be no one unifying “look” to the city. Brownstones can easily exist side-by-side with buildings made from what looks rainbow sherbet, and so on.

Since my schedule got so out of whack, we’re going to reset it: New strips will preview on the Patreon site on Sundays and Wednesdays, then go live on the main MeatShield site on Mondays and Thursdays. Sound good? Sure it does! ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,



571 – Butterfingers in the Astral Plane

UPDATE – 3/2/16 – Apologies, folks: the new MeatShield strip will be delayed due to this cold/flu thing that has smacked me and my family upside the head.

Welcome to all our new readers from Facebook! Hope you like what you see! Our heroes are currently finding their way back to the extraplanar city of Scrybl and Philo’s likely incarceration upon arrival. You know, a Tuesday. ๐Ÿ™‚

By the way, Dhur’s (now lost) loot includes the following:

  • Blackrazor
  • Ashbringer
  • Flying Carpet
  • Alladin’s Lamp
  • Two bags of Gold Coins
  • Rod of Lordly Might
  • Bag of Devouring

Take care,


570 – Dhur has his priorities straight

Can you ID all the items Dhur looted? All $5 and up Patreon patrons already know the answer (so please don’t spoil it :)!

So, it looks like Warner Bros. wants to make the next D&D movie more light-hearted and closer in feel to Guardians of the Galaxy. When I first read that headline, my kneejerk reaction was “Aww, Man!! D&D is NEVER going to get a break in the movies!” Then I read the rest of the article, and concluded that they had a point:ย  the only fantasy movies we’ve seen have been very serious and self-important, like Lord of the Rings and the Narnia movies. We need something that can encapsulate both the sweeping epic feel of the Forgotten Realms, yet can also bring a touch of humor (a touch, mind you) to the proceedings. I have yet to be involved with a D&D game that was 100% serious, nor have I ever met anyone who has. There are always going to be gazebo stories, the Head of Vecna, and Monty Python references in D&D and if some of the spirit of that can be seen in the movie, all the better. Just so long as we don’t have to see Marlon Wayans or that guy with the blue lipgloss in it.

Take care,


567 – Lowered Expectations

This all goes to show that investing points in a Craft skill (like, say, Craft: Cooking) can come in handy, folks. ๐Ÿ™‚

As promised, here is my review of the new rules for the Mystic and Psionics in 5th edition D&D:

Wizards of the Coast uses the Unearthed Arcana articles on their website to try out new rules and options. Past articles have presented prestige classes and rune magic, how to adapt the Eberron campaign setting to 5E, adapting the class kits from 2nd edition to 5e, and now, psionics.

I’m one of those players who likes to play the more obscure character types, like the artificer in Eberron or the psionicist in Dark Sun. I remember reading the psionics tables in the back of the 1st edition Dungeon Masters Guide and where, in order to even get the powers, you had to roll to see if just trying to gain psionic powers would end up killing you instead! Kinda hardcore, but I did end up with a paladin who could also use Ego Whip (Whip it! Whip it good! – Geez, I just dated myself)!

Psionics has gone through a number of revamps over the editions, but some of the key components have stayed the same: a psionic power point pool, being able to supercharge your powers depending on how many points you devoted to it, decent armor availability and some signature powers, such as the aforementioned Ego Whip, Intellect Fortress, and the Tower of Iron Will. Some of these also make appearances in the 5E rules, but some key items that would seem to scream out to be included are absent, such as telekinesis. One of the most common psionic abilities in popular fiction is absent here. Wizards have Mage Hand as a cantrip, why not the Mystic? Dress it up if you have to and call it something like “The Unseen Hand” or something. Grr. Other “traditional” psionic powers like teleportation and the actual mind-reading aspect of telepathy are also absent; you can control someone’s mind (to a limited extent) but you can’t delve into their memories or determine what they are thinking at that moment without their cooperation.

Having said all that, the rest of the rules seem decent enough. To run a psionic character, you choose the Mystic character class, which quite frankly rolls of the tongue a lot better than “Psionicist” ever did. When you do, you choose one of two Orders to follow: The Order of the Awakened and the Order of the Immortal. The Awakened are what most people think of when they think of psionics: telepathic, otherworldly, and more preoccupied with learning new secrets than going out to thump skulls. The Immortals are essentially what used to be referred to in editions past as a Psychic Warrior: martially-inclined, using psionics to make mind and body one. Knowing me, I would probably make an Awakened Mystic (as opposed to a Drowsy Mystic?).

This is the second version of the 5E psionics rules and in this one they have included a little something that they learned from the 5E magic system: a psionic version of cantrips called Talents. Like cantrips, talents can be used for free and are somewhat low-powered, like being able to give yourself nightvision for an hour, or being able to alter your density slightly so as to increase your movement speed.

The “Too Long, Didn’t Read” review: Overall, not bad, but not great either. Best to wait until they work the kinks out. I do look forward to seeing how much farther they take their ideas, though.

Take care,


566 – Manners Maketh Man… or Dragon?

One of these days, I’m going to manage to draw my characters “on model,” which means that they have a consistent appearance from any angle. That being said, I really like how Gelidek came out in the last panel. ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s all I have for now; on Friday, I’ll have my thoughts on the new Unearthed Arcana over at the D&D website: Psionics and Mystics!

Take care,


564 – Intentional Food Poisoning

Just in case you don’t feel like slogging through 560+ blog posts to find it, here is the definition of a W’Shaa Fielding:

Once a Wโ€™Shaa monk reaches the age of 20, he or she is sent out into the world on what is called โ€œFielding,โ€ where they are to learn all they can of the outside world, battle evil where it is found, and discover new recipes for the Wโ€™Shaa Cookbook of Light. Most usually return with tales of thwarting the undead, rampaging orc hordes or truly horrible ginger snaps that needed to be not burned but rather exorcised. The most famous of the Wโ€™Shaa, Amos, disappeared several years ago. It is believed that he will come again someday to stand against the darkness with his trusty staff of power and his macadamia nut caramel bars. May we all live to see the day.

That’s all for now, see you Friday!


562 – Many Hands, Light Work

The Halfling language is, in my world, Welsh. why not?

One of the things that I love about doing this strip is the feedback I get from all of you. There have been more than a few times where a very thoughtful “atta boy!” from one of my readers has brightened my day, and I mean that sincerely.

An astute new commenter noticed my little Welsh joke, but unfortunately, I can’t put his/her comment up on the site because he/she provided a fake email address. Only thing is, the way I have my website set up, if you want to comment on anything, you have to provide a valid email address. I don’t do anything with them; long-time readers can attest to just how much spam I’ve sent them once I had their email addresses (read: none).ย  Once you do, it goes into my “pending authorization” file until I approve it. Once you get approved, you no longer need to wait for authorization and can post comments to your heart’s content.

Sorry about that,


561 – Halfling – the Rodney Dangerfield of D&D Languages

Halflings – they just don’t get no respect!

Recently, Geek & Sundry posted a article about how the characters in Harry Potter would break down into D&D statistics. Trying to figure out what class and, in some cases, races our favorite characters from other media would be in Dungeons & Dragons is a long time source of friendly arguments and/or heated debate. Reading over this article, I don’t have very many problems with it, except for one thing: they forgot one particular spell from all of the characters’ spell lists, one which is pretty common in the Harry Potter universe: Wingardium Leviosa. Mage Hand, anyone?

Mischief managed,




560 – A.K.A. The Birthday Cake Maneuver

Hey, it worked against Old King Cole! No one ever talks about what happened to Old King Cole AFTER he cut open that pie. It might explain why his reign over his vaguely-Western European nation ended so soon. I think about this stuff too much.

For gamers of a certain age (mine), the following can send chills up your spine: “After being swallowed up by dense mists, you suddenly find yourself in the land of Barovia. In the distance, high on a mountain peak, sits Castle Ravenloft.” After a long absence from D&D, the gothic horror world of Ravenloft is back! I played in a Ravenloft campaign exactly once, but that one time was memorable: we were all turned into living marionettes and were later hunted by packs of werewolves. This was during 2nd Edition, and I was running a psionicist (yeah, I’m THAT player) named Rasag the Incredulous, whose personality, dependability, and speech patterns I based off of Ed Chigliak from Northern Exposure. It was a ton of fun, even though I was the only character not freaked out by being sucked into the Demiplane of Dread.

Tread carefully in the mists,


559 – Abelskiver

What the heck is Abelskiver? I invite you to click this link and peruse the Encyclopedia Ardrisia entry on the W’Shaa Monastery…

That’s right folks, you aren’t hallucinating! This is a SECOND strip in one week! Woo-hoo! One of my goals this year is to get my publishing schedule back to twice a week and this is the first week of that! As it stands, I’m looking at making my update days be on Tuesdays and Fridays. Wish me luck!

See you TUESDAY!


558 – What’s on the menu?

You know how sometimes you might make a character in a RPG with a few skill points in an obscure skill, like Craft (Weaving) or Conversational Russian, just to see if the GM will incorporate that into the game somehow?

You’re about to see that play out in the next strip. 😊

Something I’m trying this year is to refine my art style. Look at panel #2 and how I drew Jaine and Philo to see what I mean. It’ll be a long process but worth it in the long run. Let me know what you think!

Take care,


557 – Special Delivery!

The holidays have come and gone and life is getting back to normal, or as normal as my life ever gets, at any rate. ย We’re in the grips of 2016 now and as longtime readers know, 2015 really put me through the wringer. I’m glad to see its backside. Like everyone else I know, I’ve made some New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. I want to get my posting frequency up to twice a week. When I started, I was posting comic strips three times a week, but that was before my transition to fully digital production and a format change.
  2. I am going to run a 5K for the first time in my life. November 6, 2016 is the day of the Santa Clarita Marathon and 5K, so that gives me plenty of time to train and drop a significant amount of weight. I’ve been looking into a few “Couch_2_5K” programs, because the only time I have ever run for exercise was mandatory “cross-country” long-distance running in high school, which was quite a few decades ago and which I hated. This time, though, I’m doing it because I want to, which will hopefully make all the difference.
  3. Work will begin this month on the thirdย MeatShield book, The Tomb of Errors. I hope to have it ready for purchase by June 1st.
  4. I am going to be developing merchandise for MeatShield besides the books, as I realize that not everyone wants to buy a book. I’ve made noises about this before, but this year it will truly begin in earnest.

Have any of you made New Year’s Resolutions this year? ย Have you instead resolved not to make resolutions (which is a resolution in itself)?

Take care, and Happy New Year,


556 – Was that your stomach?

Howdy from North Texas! Hope you all had a great Christmas, if that’s your thing. I had a great holiday and received, among other things, a World of Warcraft DING button (which sounds like a toilet flushing, to be honest), a collection of the art of Tony diTerlizzi called Realms, and (wait for it)… Heward’s Handy Haversack! Actually, it’s the Backpack of Holding from Thinkgeek.com, but you get the idea. Much good food was consumed and churchin’ was done, as churchin’ often does around this time of a year. Overall, a good time had by all.

Hope you all have a wonderful rest of the holiday season and I’ll talk to you all in 2016!

Take care,


555 – What’s under THAT tree?

By the time you all read this, I will have just wrapped up a grueling 1400 mille-long drive from California to my in-law’s place in north Texas for Christmas. By the way, just in case anyone has too much money and wants to spoil their favorite cartoonist (me), I’d really like to get a Cintiq 13HD for Christmas. I’ve been a fairly good boy this year. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a wonderful winter holiday of your choice (or no holiday – I’m not the boss of you) and I’ll see you all next week with the last MeatShield strip of 2015!

Take care,


554 – “There ain’t no water to sail on here, anyways!”

And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia.


Long ago, the gods gathered together to create the world. Each god or goddess created one sentient race that embodied their hopes, dreams, and in some case, hobbies. Terron created the Giants, Grundhar Ghall created the Orcs, and Vasra, god of serpents and secrets, created the Wyrms.

Wyrms resemble modern dragons except for three crucial differences:

  1. They are wingless, yet are able to fly. Many scholars, when asked how this is possible, usually just shrug and say, “Magic.”
  2. They are over five times larger than the average dragon. One of the Wyrms, Igneonak, was once mistaken for a small mountain range.
  3. They are moodier than a 15-year-old human. Nobody gets them, man.

This last difference proved to be their undoing. After centuries of tolerating the Wyrms’ bad poetry and sullen silences broken only by repeated cries of “You don’t know me!”, “I didn’t ask to be born!” and “You are sooooo stupid!”, Vasra finally had enough and consigned them all to the Elemental Planes, which has long been allegedly seen by the gods as the cosmic dustbin, and started over with the dragons.

The few remaining Wyrms have grown powerful over the ages, becoming mighty, covetous and extremely touchy. Wyrms have been described as being like extraordinarily cranky housecats, except that the cat in question can lay waste to entire cities if you tick it off.

It is believed that there were as many as 30 Wyrms still alive somewhere among the Elemental Planes, but the only ones known to still be alive include the following:

  1. Aeronoss, The Unending Storm
  2. Igneonak, The Pyre of Mountains
  3. Indigar, The Claw of Darkness
  4. Gelidek, the Icy Death.

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia , volume 51 (Windhaven to Wyrdling Stew), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.


553 – It’s all a matter of perspective

As I said in the last blog post, my trusty iMac (which turned out to be seven years old, not three – how time flies!) died on me. The logic board was the culprit. It would have cost nearly the same amount to fix it than to buy a new computer. Ergoโ€ฆ

NewMac2015If I can impart any computing wisdom to you all, itโ€™s this: Back up your data regularly and in more than one location. In my case, I had my trusty external hard drive (โ€œRay-Rayโ€ – in the picture, you’ll see him being watched over by Bumblebee) with a fairly recent Time Machine backup, and I also had backed all my cartoons up to Dropbox. Dropbox saved my butt right there. Well worth the $10.00/month.

I recycled the computer at the Apple Store (after pulling the hard drive, never fear), so thereโ€™s no environmental guilt on my part because I know it’ll be recycled correctly. True, Iโ€™m now in debt up to my adamโ€™s apple, but โ€“ Hey! New Shiny Thing! Yay!

Take care,

552 – I’m sorry, were you saying something?

UPDATE: I spoke too soon. I sat down at my trusty, barely 3 years old iMac to do some standard social media stuff and after being on for about an hour, it decided to shut itself off. Then it refused to start back up again, even after (alert: Mac computer geek speak ahead) resetting the PRAM, resetting the SMC and even after praying a whole bunch. Right now, my Mac is sitting in the local Apple Store, awaiting parts that MAY arrive by next Tuesday. It is either a defective power button, which is the cheaper fix, or it’s the logic board, which will run me around $800 to replace.

ย  I’m still going to do my darnedest to get more MeatShield strips drawn ( thankfully, my iPad is still functioning), but the schedule may be a little cattywampus until I get the computer back.

Looks like Philo’s taking Dhur’s advice to heart. The poor sap.

Good news, everyone (yeah, I heard Prof. Farnsworth’s voice in my head too)! In years past, I have put the strip on hiatus during the last two weeks of December and the first week of January. This year, that will not happen! I am actually *gasp* working ahead to ensure that you have fresh MeatShield cartoons every week over the holidays! Yay!

Take care,


551 – Gelidek

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

As most longtime readers know, this has been a very rough year for me. The good news is that I am coming out the other end of it and that is due in no small part to the love and support of all of you, especially in the wake of my father’s passing. I am thankful for many things; my family, my friends (old and new), and for all of you for reading and expressing your appreciation for this little comic strip of mine. Thank you.

Take care,


550 – It’s in the Cloud

Man, I hope her contract is up or her service provider is gonna be pissed.

Wow! I wasn’t expecting the number of commission requests I got, but thank you! This will make this Christmas very nice indeed. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you haven’t gotten your commission request in yet, drop me an email at rob(at)meatshield(dot)net and get your order in now. Cut off date for new commissions is November 20th! Click here or the Commissions button above for ordering info!

Take care,


549 – I think its warranty expired anyway.

Why didn’t Philo think of this before? Because of reasons and things. *shrug*

I’ve wanted to be a cartoonist since I was 5 years old – somewhere I have proof of that, buried in moving boxes. Like a lot of cartoonists of my generation, I usually cite the “Holy Trinity” of cartoonists as influences: Berke Breathed, Bill Watterson, and Gary Larson. However, before all of them, before the Marvel and DC comic books that I initially wanted to draw, there was a round-headed boy wearing a orange t-shirt with a jagged stripe and his loyal beagle.

This is my long-winded way of saying that I saw the Peanuts movie over the weekend. I was afraid that they were going to trample all over my childhood memories of Charlie Brown, Linus and all the rest (even Lucy). I needn’t have worried, and if you haven’t seen it yet, neither should you. The Peanuts Movie is a very loving tribute to the entirety of the strip, from Charlie’s crush on The Little Red-Haired Girl to Snoopy’s exploits with the Red Baron. I won’t spoil any of it for you, but there is a big reveal at the end, something Mr. Schulz never showed us in all the years of the strip, and there are two end-credit scenes. Go see it. Now. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,



548 – Jaine’s Getting Serious

Fireball: The Great Equalizer. ๐Ÿ™‚

Commissions are now open!

If you would like a custom illustration by yours truly, now is the time to get your order in!

Here’s how it’ll work:

  1. All commissions must be requested & paid for by 11/20/15, giving me enough time for production & shipping prior to the December holidays.
  2. Once your payment is processed via PayPal, I will send you a preliminary sketch for your approval. Once you approve the sketch, I will finish work on it. It takes me roughly 48 hours to complete most illustrations.
  3. The pieces will be on Bristol board, 8.5″ x 11″ in black India Ink. All color work will be in colored pencil.


Portrait (bust) Illustration (black & white): $25 + shipping&handling
Portrait (bust) Illustration (black & white w/ colored pencil): $30+ shipping&handling

Full body illustration (black & white): $40+ shipping&handling
Full body illustration (black & white w/ colored pencil): $50+ shipping&handling
Additional character: +$10 each
Intricate backgrounds: +$15 on up – depends on the level of detail ( i.e. inside of a cave? Not too detailed. Helm’s Deep? TONS of detail).

โ€ข Your original characters, my characters, your D&D (or other RPG) characters, or anything else you might think of. Not sure? Ask me!

โ€ข The copyrighted work of other creators, unless you are the copyright holder and give me permission (i.e. I can’t do a drawing of Scott Kurtz’s Skull from PVP, but if Scott were to ask me to…).
โ€ข I won’t do nudity. I won’t draw nudity, either. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Essentially, I won’t draw anything that could be considered NSFW (Not Safe For Work) like naked people or extreme violence.

โ€ข First, shoot me an email by clicking here, telling me what you’d like me to draw and your contact and shipping info. I think Paypal does that anyway, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
โ€ขSecondly, click the dropdown below and select the appropriate option. That’s it!

Sound good?! Sure it does! Go ahead and order now, you’ll be glad you did! Deadline is November 20th!


Take care,

547 – Let Slip The Doggies of War

I suppose this is the closest Vorpal’s going to get to eating Frosty Paws. ๐Ÿ™‚

Halloween is coming up on Saturday and I have chosen my costume: I shall be Concerned Onlooker #2. My wife will be Concerned Onlooker #1 because I’ve been married long enough to know that she gets (and deserves) top billing. I really wish I could have come up with some sort of costume, but given my overall shape (roundish), there are very few costumes that I could pull off that I would want to wear. Jedi would seem to be an obvious choice, with the robe and all, but I’m also cheap and don’t want to spend a ton of cash on something I’m going to wear once, maybe twice. I did come up with the only superhero I could convincingly pull off should I ever want to do cosplay.

Are you going to dress up for Halloween? If so, as what?

Happy Halloween,



546 – Ice Zombies – Plural!

Exposition, thy name is Khalinor.

I have a large gaming group. Most games I’ve been in have been large groups; my very first group consisted of 8 players (we named our PCs’ adventuring company “The Octagon.”) My current situation has me wrangling 7 players, which presents unique challenges. For anyone out there dealing with a large group, here are some pointers I’ve found invaluable:

  1. Exploit โ€“ err, ask your players for help.ย  If you’re the DM, you know that you are essentially running the entire show: coming up with the backstory, rules adjudication, roleplaying everyone except the PCs, maintaining game balance, etc. If you can find someone to take on minor tasks like maintaining a “When last we left our heroes…” journal or acting as quartermaster for all the magic items and party gold, so much the better. In my first group, our DM and one of the players had worked out a verbal system that enabled the player to draw accurate maps of the dungeons we were in (Thanks, Steve D.!) Give out bonus XP (or if you’re playing D&D 5E, Inspiration points) as incentive. Money works too.
  2. Don’t split the party EVER. This is old advice, I know, but for a large group, it’s almost vital, unless you like juggling two to three different plotlines and can keep all those balls in the air effectively. Letting the party split up can only end badly for everyone concerned, including you as the DM. The players not involved in the current plotline will get bored and get out their phones or iPads or start quoting random movies for no damn reason and this has of course never happened to me (ahem). It will end badly for the DM because you’ll know that no fun was had that session. Why? Because half of the group had to wait while JoJo the Monk, Cindy the Sorcerer and Flingar the Barbarian parleyed with the goblin king while Sister Christianne the Cleric, Edrick the Knight and Totoru the Ranger were in the midst of trying not to get killed by the 14 flesh golems that you had prepared THINKING that the entire group was going to be fighting them.
  3. Plan waaaaaaaay in the advance. Don’t make the mistake I’ve made more times than I can count where, in the midst of planning out the next game session, I think to myself, “3 encounters ought to do it, right? There’s no way they’ll be able to blast through all three of these encounters tonight! Right?” It’s bitten me in the butt many times. Regardless of how much prep work you’ve done for your adventure, prepare at least twice that amount before you sit behind the DM screen.You never know when your players will manage to neatly circumvent the epic fight scene you had planned by simply not going down a certain hallway. It hurts when you have to shrug your shoulders and admit to your players that you have burned through everything you had prepared for that session.
  4. Streamline the Dice-rolling. This actually several smaller tips, but they are all huge time-savers: roll your attack and damage rolls simultaneously. If you miss, you can ignore the damage. Also, especially when you’re dealing with a horde of opponents against your PCs, instead of rolling up damage for every single attack, choose the average amount (plus or minus any modifiers) and just deal that as damage. Also, pre-roll initiative for the NPCs and have all similar bad guys act on the same turn (ex. Goblins on 1, Bugbears on 12, etc.).

That’s all I’ve got. What tips or tricks have you used?


545 – Sub-Zero Throwdown!

For Dhur, being drunk while fighting might actually be an asset?

I’ve been trying to veer away from really revealing blog posts lately, as I think they might put some people off, especially newer readers. However, something happened recently that I feel the need to talk about. This isn’t a set-up for a joke. You have been warned.

Two weeks ago, I took my mother and my daughters out to lunch; my wife was at an event for work over two hours away. While we were out, my mother wanted to buy her granddaughters some blouses at Kohl’s. I dropped them off at the entrance to the store, then went to find parking. As I was steering the car, I felt a hard, dull pain in my left shoulder. This was accompanied by a similar pain in my left hand. That is when my paranoia took over. My dad died very recently from a heart attack, you see. Once I parked the car, I slowly started to freak out. “Is this how it starts?!” is the phrase that was on repeat in my head. Walking to the store, I was dizzy and my feet felt numb. This combined to scare me even more. Once I got in the store, I was more and more light-headed and ultimately, we left the store and I drove myself to the ER.

No cause was found for the pain in my shoulder, except perhaps the fact that I tend to sleep on my left side and may have pinched a nerve at some point. I did not have a heart attack – two EKGs confirmed that. What I did have was my very first (hopefully only) anxiety attack. In talking to friends and doing research online, it is apparently common to feel like you are having a heart attack the first time you get one of these things. I almost literally (and I am using that word in the grammatically correct way) scared myself to death. It’s no wonder this happened to me. I’m surprised it took this long.

As of yesterday, my dad died 4 months ago. I feel like I should be farther along in healing up from this than I am, like some imaginary gym teacher is telling me to suck it up, everybody has it hard. My friends and family keep reminding me that everybody grieves differently and that there is no set timeline for when I should be better. Most days, I am.

I’m okay now, don’t worry. Next week, I’ll have something really really funny for you to read. Probably. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for reading.

Take care,


544 – Ice Zombie?! ICE ZOMBIE!

No, he’s not a White Walker. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Work continues behind the scenes on the Mighty MeatShield Store as I and my brain trust (read: my wife and my friends) are hard at work coming up with some pretty cool stuff for you all. Would you like a sneak peek? Here you go:

3D Sculpting by Rob Derry

Who DOESN”T want their own foam Nailmoor Sledge? Muggles, that’s who! ๐Ÿ™‚ No timetable on when this will be available, but you’ll all be the first to know!

Take care,


543 – He LIKES me likes me?

This goes to show you that everyone can have an emotional blindspot at one time or another. Fun fact: I didn’t find out until long after I was happily married with children that a girl in high school that I thought was just a real good friend in fact had a crush on me. How do I know? Because I ran into her Christmas shopping one year and she told me so! I later asked my best friend if he knew about it and his response was, “Oh yeah, sure, it was obvious. Whatever happened with that, anyway?”

This brings up an interesting question: have you (or anyone you knew) had a character in a game fall in love with another character? If so, how did that go? I’m not talking about *ahem* intimate relations; I mean from an roleplaying standpoint, how did a romantic relationship between two characters (PC or NPC) play out?

Take care,




542 – It’s lonely on the tundra

In other news… Philo has a vodka cellar? For the curious and/or nitpicky, Philo made more room by expanding into the mountain in front of which his fortress is set.

Well, it’s that time again: I’m going to be jumping back into the DM chair. This time around it’s going to be a homebrew world, taking bits and pieces of inspiration from Gamma World, S.M. Sterling’s Emberverse novels and the home campaign detailed by David Ewalt in his excellent book, “Of Dice and Men”. I don’t want to rush this one, though; I want to be as prepared as possible. I learned to my detriment a while back that I am not one of those DMs that can improv their way through a game, so I need as much background info as I can dredge out of my noggin. I’ll give you all more details once I present the world to my players (some of whom read this blog; no spoilers!)

What was your favorite homebrew world, and why?

Take care,


540 – “Down this way I have an entire room just for my shoes…”

Where’s Vorpal, you ask? She’s where any dog worth her salt would be: asleep in the kitchen. ๐Ÿ™‚

It had to happen: someone’s character in my gaming group got killed.

Let me be clear, though: I didn’t kill him – I wasn’t the DM this time around. The character of my brother-in-law’s brother Vern (not his real name), Chang, got killed by a HORDE of undead swarming into Baldur’s Gate while the rest of us were able to safely escape the city via the catacombs. For the purposes of this discussion, a horde is defined as “more than 250.”

Why did Chang have to die? He didn’t. He died because he didn’t want to leave his cart behind. You read that right: his cart. That we would ride in and carry loot in. The cart wouldn’t fit into the catacombs, so he wasn’t going to budge. Chang went down with his ship cart. It wasn’t so much like he was killed as he committed suicide by stubbornness.

I think Vern just wanted to make another character because when he rolled Chang up, the dice were not kind. Chang was a Fighter with a 9 Strength and a 10 Constitution. His Dexterity was a 13 and was his highest score. Thus, he specialized in crossbows. Chang would go into combat with a tower shield in front of him and his crossbow poking over the top or around the side. Yes, it was hilarious each time he did it, but as a player and DM, I can see how the humorous appeal would quickly wane.

Maybe he’ll make a halfling monk next. I understand they’re pretty bad-ass.

See you next week for the 6th anniversary of MeatShield!


539 – Tuckus? Is that Elvish?

One quick bit of business: I recently decided that I need to alter one of the reward tiers for my Patreon campaign. Previously, if you contributed at the $5 level, you would gain access to the latest strip one day early. I decided that that is not sufficient. From now on, if you are contributing $5 or more on Patreon, in addition to any other benefits, you will get to read the strip one week early. Not too shabby! The aforementioned sneak peeks will take effect next Tuesday (9/2/15).

That’ll do it for me for now; take care, everybody!


538 – Philo’s back!

This week’s blog post is a bit rambling; you have been warned.

โ€ข I was re-reading “Of Dice and Men” by David Ewalt, which, if you haven’t read it, go and do so – it is a very accessible & enjoyable history of D&D. In the first chapter, he refers to the fact that D&D, with all of its statistics and charts, tends to appeal to people who like math and science. I am the odd man out, then: I am horrible at math. I like science, but math has always been my Achilles heel. How bad could my math-skills be, you ask? You’re reading the words of a man who managed to squeak through high school despite never progressing any higher in his math curriculum than Pre-Algebra. I’m not proud of this, but then again I’m not really ashamed of it either: it is what it is. I’ve made up for it since then – kind of hard to get a Bachelors degree without math.

โ€ข Some sad news: Yvonne Craig has died. For fans of a certain age (read: my age, mid-40s), she was Batgirl on the Batman TV show starring Adam West. When I was in the third grade and living in San Mateo, CA (south of San Francisco), I used to race home after school to watch the daily Batman reruns, hoping that she would be in that day’s episode, looking for her to ride her motorcycle past the end of the opening credits. How much did I like Batgirl? I pestered my dad to get me the Mego Batgirl action figure (“it’s not a doll!! It’s an action figure!”) because I was afraid I was never going to see her on the show again. I don’t know why I thought that, but I did. I was 7 years old, what do you want? I took it to school for show & tell once and, as you can imagine, once was all it took for the teasing from the other boys to commence. *sigh*. Rest in peace, Ms. Craig โ€“ a little boy at St. Timothy’s Catholic School loved you.

Wow, I’m revealing all sorts of things about myself today, aren’t I? Think I’ll stop while I still can. See you next week!

Take care,


537 – “Maybe we could make a rope out of Dhur’s back hair?”

Robin Laws once wrote about the 7 types of RPG player. It’s an interesting read. I recently re-read it and I believe I fall into the category of the Method Actor (with shades of The Storyteller and the Specialist thrown in for good measure). I mention this because my wife hates my PC.

She loves me, no question, but when it comes to my paladin, Mycroft, she cringes each time he opens his mouth. Y’see, Mycroft Juramont, avenger of Tyr, speaks with a bad Texan accent modeled after a particular actor who is currently hawking Lincoln automobiles, an actor she just can’t stand. Mind you, that doesn’t stop me from doing it; I just get a lot of eyerolls throughout each game session.

“All right, all right, all right.” ๐Ÿ˜‰


536 – What’s that, girl? Timmy fell down the well?

A bit of truly horrible news for you all, something I found out about yesterday via AICN: They’re going to be making another Dungeons and Dragons movie. Meh.

“But Rob,” you might say, “if Marvel could create a cinematic universe, why can’t D&D?” Here’s the problem: the difference between D&D and Marvel is that Marvel has established characters. The whole idea behind D&D is that you make up your own character in the game. There are a few established non-player characters within certain campaign worlds, such as Elminster, Drizzt Do’Urden, Mordenkainen, or Szass Tam, but no one outside of the hobby knows who any of those characters are. I, and my Facebook associate Tom Racine, both fear that the only idea the Powers That Be will be able to come up with is the “bunch of kids playing the game get sucked into an alternate universe where D&D is REAL!” trope. Already read that story in The Sleeping Dragon by Joel Rosenberg.

TLDR: Not holding out much hope for the next D&D movie. Watch, I say that now and 5 years from now it’ll be a blockbuster! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Take care,


535 – Failed Spot Check

I’ve often seen Dhur as the kind of character made by someone who’s new to gaming and doesn’t understand how to allocate skills.

DM: Are you absolutely sure you want to devote your last three skill points to Craft (needlepoint)?
Player: I love needlepoint, yes!
DM: Even though you’re going to be playing a Ranger and you have no skill points in Survival, Search or Spot and only two in Animal Handling?
Player: Umm, my guy doesn’t like animals, they’re smelly.
DM: *sigh* OK, Good luck to you…

On another note, yesterday was my birthday. Happy birthday as well to Geddy Lee, Martina McBride and Wil Wheaton. As Wil recently said, we’re survived another lap around the sun!
Take care,


534 – Voerhal

I’m back.

This past month has been the hardest I’ve ever gone through and I couldn’t have made it through without the support of my family, friends and my readers. From prayers and/or positive thoughts to the actual monetary donations to help pay for my father’s service, I am truly humbled by the love and support you all have shown me. Thank you.

My dad never quite understood what MeatShield was all about, but he was very supportive of my work. He did always wonder why my strip wasn’t in the newspapers, even after I would tell him about the slow, steady demise of the newspaper industry and the syndicates that service it. He was very proud when I showed him my first book, and I think he began to feel that I might actually make a go of this whole cartooning thing when I printed my second book. I get a lot of my sense of humor from my dad, so you all have him partly to blame.:)

The best thing I can do to make him proud is to get back in the hotseat and make people laugh. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Take care (and call your folks if you can),


533 – Strange Things Are Afoot In The Astral Plane

UPDATE – 6/22/15:ย  My father’s interment is scheduled for 7/3/15. I hope to be back at the drawing table by about 7/15/15 or so, after handling the rest of Dad’s affairs. Thank you all for the kind and supportive comments. Thank you also to those of you who contributed to the GoFundMe campaign to raise money forย my father’s services.

I have the best readers in the world. Take care. ~Rob

Does this look familiar? That’s because it’s full of wibblely-wobbly, timey-whimey stuff. The loop had to be closed eventually.

My father passed away on Saturday. My wife and I were the ones to find him. My familyย and I are devastated. He was my hero. I need to place MeatShield on an indefinite hiatus, as right now I do not feel terribly funny. I will come back, rest assured. Thank you all for understanding.


532 – Intelligence was his Dump Stat

… just in case you hadn’t figured that out about our good friend Dhur, son of Dho’h.

It seems that someone turned the exterior thermostat here in Southern California from “June Gloom” setting (where it was set at the beginning of the month) to “Blast Furnace on the Surface of the Sun”. My car dashboard thermometer said it was 109ยบ F today! Cheese and Rice! On days like these, the idea of joining the Night’s Watch and walking the Wall doesn’t sound so bad… ๐Ÿ˜‰



531 – Rock Solid Butt

Yes, Dhoh just figured out that he’s dead. They’re half-orcs – Rhodes Scholars they ain’t.

I just realized something: Dhur’s not really a half-orc. His dad is, and Dhur certainly self-identifies as one, but the other orcs we’ve seen (so far) have had skin tones ranging from green to taupe. Dhoh’s skin is just as dusky pink as his son’s. To me, that says Dhoh is actually the half-orc in the family and probably met Dhur’s mom when they were both adventurers. That also might explain how Dhur and his brother had such a stable childhood – imagine a full-blooded orc being an involved parent and living in a human community, despite the remoteness of Last Light*. I guess that would make Dhur and Ghar quarter-orcs, but that just makes them sound like horses. ๐Ÿ™‚

By the way, this strip was available 24 hours early on Patreon! Patrons at the $5 “Monk” level get access to sneak peeks at the next strip, as well as access to the MeatShield Patreon news feed! Not too shabby. Go check it out! ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,

*: Last Light is the northernmost village in the Imperial Protectorate of Gahl-Nabbar on Ardris and is Dhur’s hometown. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle – G.I. JOE! ๐Ÿ™‚

530 – Grundahr Ghall

And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia…

Grundahr Ghall

At the Dawn of Time, when the various gods gathered together at the Grand Conference to determine who was going to do what in the world, one of their number distinguished himself not by his power or wisdom, but by his tardiness. Grundahr Ghall showed up for the Grand Conference over an hour late; by that point, all the really good jobs, like creating the oceans or controlling the weather had already been snapped up. Enraged, the already savage & violent Grundahr became the god of conquest and savagery and created followers that were reflections of his brutal temperament: the orcs, to whom he gave only one commandment: Might Makes Right. Heโ€™s not much fun at parties.

Grundahr Ghall, also known as the Fist of Blood, is immensely strong yet amazingly dim-witted, barely able to speak in coherent sentences. However, in his mind, he is the smartest, most powerful and handsomest of all the gods, who are jealous of his “intelligentosity and strongitude.” Ghall respects only physical prowess and cruelty. When Grundahr chooses to manifest himself upon the prime material plane of Ardris, he appears much as he does on his home plane of Lithdak, the Eternal Battlefield: a fifty-foot tall orc with bony plates on the top of his skull. Subtlety is not a word in his vocabulary. Neither is “vocabulary.”

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia , volume 12 (Gronsoth to HurdyGurdy), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.ย 

Note: A slightly abbreviated version of this entry appears in Against The Gravel Giants: The Second Meatshield Collection. Don’t have a copy? Why, that’s easily remedied: both it and The Quest for the Scepter Thingie, the First MeatShield Collection are now available for 20% off!

Take care,


529 – What Not To Wear, D&D Edition

Hope you like the new armor, Becky. I got tired of drawing coffee cans on your shoulders. ๐Ÿ™‚

Christiane, a frequent commenter, had told the tale of her paladin in her comment for the strip previous to this one and how she chopped her own head off with three natural ones in a row. This reminded me of a little story that was initially going to be my reply to her, but I decided it needed to be up here in the main blog post. So anyway, in my home game, my brother-in-law runs a warforged barbarian named Shrapnel. Shrapnel is also prone to extremes of fortune: during combat, he will either roll a 20, a critical hit, or he will roll a 1, a critical fail. Rarely is it ever in between. If you roll a 1 In my game, you fumble your melee weapon and it goes flying out in a random direction (1d4, 1= N, 2=S, 3=E, 4=W) and up to 6 squares away or your bowstring snaps with a ranged weapon (or the sling leather snaps, etc.) During one particularly memorable shipboard battle, he had to go overboard DURING THE BATTLE to retrieve his greatsword that had flown out of his hands (due to the aforementioned fumble rule) and sank to the bottom of the lake. Shrapnel then ended up walking on the bottom of the lake (warforged don’t need to breathe) until he reached land. Good times. Not for him, but for me, since I’m the DM. *evil DM laugh*

Janessa, another frequent commenter, had asked about the Patreon campaign, as I had said I was going to relaunch it. The truth is, the last time I ran a Patreon campaign, it didn’t go very well. However, that was almost a year ago, so hopefully this one will go better. However, I’m not sure sure how many tiers to offer and how many bonuses to provide. Here are the rewards I’m thinking of offering:

  1. Pledge $1.00 or more per comic strip – HIRELING LEVEL: Thank you! Your support is super-appreciated, just like the hard-working hireling, toting treasure out of dungeon complexes. Every little bit helps!
  2. Pledge $2.00 or more per comic strip – BARD LEVEL: You have a fine appreciation for the arts and have become a Bard! You have earned my thanks and gratitude, along with your name (or the name of your D&D character) inscribed upon the Adventurer’s Wall of Awesome on the main MeatShield site!
  3. Pledge $5.00 or more per comic strip – MONK LEVEL: You have centered your chi and become a Monk! As such, you are entitled to not only the previous rewards, but also to view the newest MeatShield comic one day early here on Patreon!
  4. Pledge $10.00 or more per comic strip – PALADIN LEVEL: You have taken up arms to defend the helpless as a Paladin! Such holy might grants you all of the above rewards, plus access to a special Patreon-only sketch blog, updated three times per week!
  5. Pledge $15.00 or more per comic strip – BARBARIAN LEVEL: The call of the wild sings through your blood as a Barbarian! As such, you receive all of the previous rewards, plus access to a monthly video Q&A via Google Hangouts with the creator of MeatShield, Rob “The Guy Typing This Stuff” Chambers!
  6. Pledge $20.00 or more per comic strip – ARCHMAGE LEVEL: The secrets of the multiverse are laid out before you as an Archmage! Become an Archmage and all of the previous rewards will be yours, as well as a one-time cameo of yourself or anyone else you wish as a Non-Player Character (NPC) in a MeatShield strip!

What are your thoughts, folks?

Take care,


527 – Name Calling

In the D&D games I used to play in back in high school, there was a standing rule that if you called a god’s name often enough on the Outer Planes, they could hear it and might show up to both a) tell you to shut up, and b) unleash their holy wrath upon you. This cropped up a lot when people would say, “Oh, the hell with it!” Hel (one L) is the Norse goddess of death. She never actually showed up, mostly because my fellow gamers and I became very well-acquainted with the follow-up phrase: “I’m saying that Out of Character! I’m saying that Out of Character!”

See you all next time, when we find out what happens when you tick off the God of the Dwarves!

Take care,


525 – Guano, every Pyromancer’s friend!

I remember when I was a kid learning D&D and coming across the Fireball spell and the material component needed to cast it: bat guano. I then had to look up the word “guano.” I remember my teachers being impressed by my vocabulary in elementary school. Small wonder, since I read comic books and played D&D; by 4th grade I knew about the Van Allen belt, mutants, cosmic rays, gamma radiation, and bat guano.

It’s no wonder I didn’t date much in high school ;(

Take care,


524 – Was it her breath?

“But Rob,” I hear you think, “I’ve run paladins before that have gone to the Outer Planes and they didn’t attract any more attention than the attention they brought upon themselves. What gives?”

Patience, Grasshopper. There is a reason ๐Ÿ™‚

In other news, this is the first strip to be drawn, inked and colored 100% using an app called Astropad. A lot has been written about it, so I’ll be brief: it lets me use my iPad like a Cintiq, mirroring whatever is running on my laptop. This enables me to draw right on the screen instead of on a tablet that causes that whole hand-eye disconnect hurdle that I usually have to deal with. It’s only available for the iPad and the Mac, but the price is right compared to even a used Cintiq and the developers are super-nice and responsive to any problems. There’s a trial version available from their website and I heartily recommend it to anyone else who, like me, was pining for the chance to draw more naturally with their computers.

That’s all for now! See you next week!


521 – Family Time, Orc Style

I love onomatopoeia.

Hey, Glenn over at ComicMix.com has started up the Mix March Madness Webcomics Tournament and MeatShield is in it! There are over 300 webcomics particpating in this; if MeatShield manages to get into the Top 128, we could win this thing. Sure, it’d be like my alma mater, Cal-State Northridge defeating Michigan or Duke, but it’d still be cool! The voting ends Saturday, March 21 at 11:59 PM EDT, and brackets go up on Monday, March 23! You get one free vote per day, but you can buy more! You can donate to the Hero Intiative from ComicMix’s site: itโ€™s 20ยข per vote for this round with a minimum of five votes purchased at a time, and all proceeds from paid votes will go to the Hero Initiative, an organization that helps comic book creators in need. Oh, and these donations are tax-deductible, just in case you were wondering.

So, go vote for MeatShield! I’m quite a ways down the list; they were having some sort of problem with it, so the list started out being sorted alphabetically, then sort of not. Don’t worry, MeatShield is on the list.

Remember, vote early, vote often!


520 – It’s “Bring Your Kid To Work” day!

A few notes:

  • I’m still working on the color conversions for the books for both Book One and Two. It’s a tedious, mind-numbing process. I’ll keep you posted on my progress there.
  • I’m thinking of relaunching my Patreon campaign. I will most likely be limiting the number of contribution tiers, as I think folks might be willing to pay $1 per comic, but not $50 per comic. Still mulling that over, frankly.

Actually, that’s it; I guess I didn’t have as much on my mind as I thought! See you all next week!


517 – You didn’t know that was your nickname?

Just in case you don’t remember, Gerta lives in a halfdome kind of yurt… thing.

So, the Great MeatShield Planehopping contest….


I think I made it too hard to participate. I probably should have just asked folks to retweet with the hashtag #planehopping. Too late for that now, though. Since no one has yet to participate as of 2/8/15 (when I am writing this), I have decided that as of 5:00PM on the 9th the contest will end and you will all now be at my mercy as to where the story goes from here. Bwa-ha-ha. ๐Ÿ™‚

However, it’s not too late! You can still enter by going on the social media outlet of your choice and telling folks about MeatShield, then sending me a link to that post via rob(at)meatshield(dot)net. Thanks!

Take care,


516 – “I was expecting someone… hotter?”

It’s almost as though time didn’t stand still for Rey-Rey like Gerta figured it would…

Okay, it’s contest time! This time around, the prize is the ability to determine which plane our heroes go to next!ย  I have three options for you:

  1. Back to Ardris, just in a vastly different areaย  – maybe even off the map;
  2. The Para-elemental plane of Ice, because of reasons. No “Frozen” references will rear their heads… maybe.
  3. The realm of Grundahr Ghall, to whom Dhur probably has some explaining to do. **

Now, how do you go about determining the fate of the Unnamed Royal Adventuring Company #47?ย  Easy. Tell anybody you like about MeatShield. Online, that is; chatting Dhur & Company up to your spouse or parents doesn’t count. Use whatever means you like: Twitter, Ello, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, etc., etc. Tell folks why you like this strip, who your favorite character is, maybe link to some of your favorites from the past, whatever you like as long as it makes people want – no, need – to check this strip of ours out. ๐Ÿ™‚

Then, send me the links to those posts in an email – do not use the comments section, please. The person who posts the most links to the strip wins! Deadline is February 9th, at 5:00 PM, PST. I will announce the winner on Twitter and on the MeatShield Facebook page on February 13th.

Send your email to this address: rob (at) meatshield (dot) net, with the subject line : The Great MeatShield Planehopping Contest. Make sure your email includes the following:

  1. Your name
  2. Your handle in the comments section, if you post under one. Should you win, your handle will appear somewhere in the first strip of the next story arc. ๐Ÿ™‚
  3. The valid site links to your posts (404 links are automatically disqualified)
In the event of a tie, the winner will be selected randomly by me using the time-honored and UN-sanctioned method of "eenie-meenie-mynie-moe." Just as Dhur would want it to be. :)

Not only will you get to help guide the future storyline of MeatShield, you’ll be doing me a HUGE favor by letting folks know about the strip, which would really help me out.

So, get crackin’!

Take care,


**: Don’t know who Grundhar Ghall is? He’s the god of the orcs, among other things – read all about him in the exclusive “Gods of Ardris” section in “Against the Gravel Giants – The Second MeatShield Collection”

515 – Please let her clean up good!

I am almost done with my current 3.5 D&D campaign and I’m chomping at the bit to try D&D 5th Edition. One of my regular players will be taking on the task of DM, so I will get to play after a long dry spell. During the long national trial that was 4th Edition, there was one class that I always wanted to try: the avenger. I never got to try it out and figured that I never would.

Then came 5th Edition.

When you make a PC in 5th edition, you pick a race and class. At about 2nd or 3rd level, you choose a specialty to further define your character’s class. For example, Rogues can specialize as a Thief, an Assassin, or an Arcane Trickster. For paladins, you choose an Oath that defines you. One of those oaths is the Oath of Vengeance. In the description for this oath, it even says the following (note the bolded sentence):

“The Oath of Vengeance is a solemn commitment to punish those who have committed a grievous sin. When evil forces slaughter helpless villagers, when an entire people turns against the will of the gods, when a thievesโ€™ guild grows too violent and powerful, when a dragon rampages through the countrysideโ€”at times like these, paladins arise and swear an Oath of Vengeance to set right that which has gone wrong. To these paladinsโ€” sometimes called avengers or dark knightsโ€”their own purity is not as important as delivering justice.”

I’m gonna be Batman–err, an Avenger– err, a Paladin! Can. Not. Wait.

Take care,


514 – “…and he used to take my lunch money, too!”

Happy MLK Day to everybody!ย  Thanks go out to frequent commenter Andor, who pointed out last time that I forgot to explain why they were bailing Philo out when he was going to be sentenced the next day. I sometimes forget that you guys only know what I put up on the site and that you can’t read my mind – I always had it in my head that being in Scrybl would shave huge chunks of time off their geas. Andor, you have won yourself an official MeatShield No-Prize, which is on its way to your inbox. ๐Ÿ™‚

See you all next week!


513 – She’ll need a receipt for that, Goblin dude.

And we’re back from Christmas Vacation! I hope you all had a good holiday season, whatever holiday you chose (or chose not) to observe. This year was a good one and no one got sick at all… until 3 days after New Year’s Day. My wife and I are just coming down off of a killer cold or flu (not sure which), and today is the first day I’ve been able to breathe clearly, so Yay Me!

By the way, the 30% off sale for Book One, The Quest for the Scepter Thingie, is still active, even though I said it was going away by the first of January. I should probably take care of that… by midnight Friday. Act fast!

Now then, what deviltry can I inflict on — err,ย  what else might happen to our heroes? Heh heh heh.

Take care,


512 – And that’s just for a misdemeanor!

UPDATE – 12/22/14: I’m sorry I didn’t post this earlier, but MeatShield will be on hiatus until 01/12/15, which is when my kids go back to school. I need to time to mentally regroup and do the traditional holiday stuff with my family. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

One of these days, that DA’s going to file a treason charge that’ll stick, by crackey and by gum. One sweet, sweet day…

Good News Everyone! I have discounted Book One by 30%, making the cost to you $13.27 US until the end of 2014! Want to get in on the ground floor but don’t want to sit in front of your computer reading 500+ strips? This is the perfect way! Click here now!

Take care,

511 – The Eye of Justice

For those of you in the U.S. who aren’t familiar with it, the cyclops prosecutor is wearing a barrister’s wig, common in the UK. Why did I put him in a barrister’s wig? I felt like it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, a brief little bit about true names: in many cultures, there is the name that your parents gave you and then there is your true name, which only you know and should anyone learn your true name, it would give them power over you. Knowing the true name of The Lady of Blave, mistress of Scrybl who is feared by gods… yeah. Chew on that one. ๐Ÿ™‚

See you next week!

Take care,


510 – Where’s Rusty the Bailiff?

Today’s punchline is brought to you today courtesy of my wife. It’s one of the many reasons I married her: she is good at helping me get out of my own way and bring the funny. No new strip on Friday, on account of a) I’ll be recovering from a turkey coma and b) I have to try to get my NaNoWriMo novel done by the deadline. However, I have some super good A-1 news… (drumroll please)

Book Two is now available!! Yay!!!! Just go ahead and click on the banner ad at the top or on the STORE link in the menu over the cartoon and you too can add to your MeatShield library! I’m really excited about this and I’m so happy that it’s done! Let me know what you think!


Happy Thanksgiving! See you in December!



509 – May I be Excused?

For that last panel, I had this scene from an otherwise forgettable Disney movie bouncing in my head. In The Emperor’s New Groove, a bunch of the villain’s thugs get alchemically transformed into animals. One turns into a cow and says, “Umm, excuse me, I’m a cow, can I go home?” Don’t know why that stuck with me, other than the sheer absurdity of it.

Got the proof of Book Two in my hands and… hoo boy do I have a lot of mistakes to fix, not least of which is the cover, which got offset by about a quarter of an inch. Come hell or high water, this sucker will be available before Thanksgiving!

Take care,


508 – Alignment shift in 3… 2… 1…

Poor Jaine, the steps she has to take to keep her friends’ heads from exploding. After all this time, you’d think she would have had to do an alignment check at some point. Living with Dhur and Ch’p makes keeping to a good alignment hard.

I have finished the first week of NaNoWriMo and, as of this writing, have managed to produce roughly 6500 words. While it’s good that I have written that much, it does mean that I am woefully behind on my word count quota. In order to finish this competition with a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month, I need to produce roughly 1666 words per day. Basic math will tell you that I have not managed to do this. My wife, on the other hand has already surpassed 15,000 words. The funny thing is, normally I would not be worried about word counts as it is the quality of said words that is important. However, in the case of NaNoWriMo,, it actually says in the guidelines for the competition that quantity is valued over quality, assuming that quality will later be put into the manuscript via editing after the 30 days are up. I still view this as a way to come up with a very good rough draft. If anything else blossoms from this, so be it. Again, wish me luck on week two.

Take care,


507 – Trick and Treat


So, would you all like to see the cover to Book Two? Thought you might…

As soon as I get the author’s proof back from Lulu (which should be in a week or so), I’ll look it over, make any corrections, and * BOOM * you can buy it! Yay! I’m really proud of how the cover illustration came out. Thanks for waiting folks, your patience is about to be rewarded.

Oh, and Happy Halloween to you all! See you next week!


506 – Glory Days

Starting in roughly a week from now is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. For those of you that have never heard of it before, National Novel Writing Month occurs during the month of November and the goal of it is to produce a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. Mind you, nobody said it had to be a good novel; in fact, the goal is to put quantity over quality. My wife and I will be participating this year, may God have mercy on our souls. ๐Ÿ™‚ For more information on NaNoWriMo, click here. I view this as an opportunity to come up with a really good first draft on a novel. A few years ago I attempted to write a novel that I characterized at time as “The Jackalope’s lust for glory,” (paraphrasing Eric Idle) but I have to admit it ended up being a horribly derivative knockoff of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, substituting the old and new gods with figures from American folklore, like Pecos Bill, Mothman and the Nain Rouge. I hope to do better this time around. Wish us luck.

Take care,

~ Rob


505 – For all your interdimensional insurance needs…

Earlier in the week, I posted a geek rant on Facebook, where a few things that had been bouncing around in my head for a while finally broke loose. I shall now reprint and expound on that post thusly:

  1. DOCTOR WHO: Peter Capaldi seems like a great actor, but I just can’t cotton to him as Doctor Who. I am the last person to want anyone to lose a job, but I would really rather see anyone else as Doctor Who right now. Except Hugh Grant. That guy can’t act his way out of a paper bag, IMHO. You can only do ‘vaguely befuddled’ for so long before it gets tiring, Hugh.
  2. DC COMICS: Cyborg was a New Teen Titan, one of my favorite comics growing up in the mid-80s. Cyborg is not, and should not, be a founding member of the Justice League. Vic Stone’s cool and all, but he’s not at the same power level as, say, Superman. Aquaman, maybe, but not Supes.ย 
  3. MARVEL AND DC COMICS (and their parent companies): As a lifelong comics fan, I never thought I’d say this, but… slow down on all the superhero movies, willya? Not that I don’t want to see them – BECAUSE I DO – but the rest of the world that isn’t made up of comics fans are going to get burned out on them like they did with westerns in the 1960s and then where will we be? Also, both publishing companies need to stop trying to deconstruct their characters and make them more “real.” That’s already been done with Watchmen (the graphic novel, not the movie.) Comics don’t need to be gritty and grim all the time: no one wants to see a grim and gritty Ambush Bug, for example.
  4. AQUAMAN: I grew up as a DC kid (later migrating over to Marvel), but I was never a huge fan of the Big Three (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman); instead, I always liked the B-Team heroes, like Green Arrow, Hawkman, Flash, and Aquaman. Arthur Curry doesn’t get enough respect. Sure, he can’t fly, but he has superhuman strength enough to withstand the crushing pressures found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the ocean (roughly seven MILES below the ocean’s surface). Anyone who can do that, plus breathe underwater, swim fast enough to break the sound barrier and telepathically summon and control all marine life makes him a BAMF in my opinion. Also, all he has to do is summon a bunch of sharks, call up Red Tornado (another favorite of mine) to make a vortex for him and – BOOM – you’ve got yourself a Sharknado!ย  You’re welcome. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ok, I think I’m done. ๐Ÿ™‚ See you next week!


504 – Pedicures ain’t cheap, either!

It’s aย  funny thing: when I have family from out of town visiting, I somehow become more productive, not less. My in-laws recently visited us from Texas and while they were here, I managed to finish 98% of the second MeatShield book, Against the Gravel Giants. The only thing left to do – the only thing preventing this book from being your hands, is one task: the freaking cover. I have some sort of weird artist’s block regarding it, because I want it to look a) great and b) evocative of the contents of the book. I shall struggle on, never fear.

Speaking of content in Book Two, here’s what you’ll get in it, besides a whole buncha cartoons:

  • Several entries from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia, covering everything from ghosts to chimera hounds!
  • Becky Sourbottom’s Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe-style dossier!
  • Full Pathfinder โ„ข game stats for all four members of the Unnamed Royal Adventuring Company #47 (Philo will have to wait for Book Three)!
  • A new and fancier map of the world of Ardris!
  • The Gods of Ardris – not seen on the website at all!

Is there anything that you would like to see in Book Two that’s not listed? Let me know in the comments!

I’m hoping to have this sucker ready to go by the end of the month at the latest.

Take care, everyone!


503 – A true warrior’s drink!

Some folks see prune juice as a “warrior’s drink,” but I put it to you that coffee beats some dried-up plum juice any day hands down. And yes, that’s how I occasionally take my coffee. So now the secret has been revealed! ๐Ÿ™‚

I tried an experiment last week. DMs that I’ve gamed with in the past, both at cons and in private gaming groups, have been able to improvise an adventure from whole cloth, making everything up on the spur of the moment. I thought I’d give it a shot. I can improvise to a certain degree – you have to if you’re a DM because players will often (read: always) come up with solutions that you hadn’t thought of; one of these days I’ll tell you all about the land boat. Anyway, I tried it with my group (without informing them, naturally) and hoo-boy, did it not go well! I won’t go into all the bloody details, but I think a lack of preparedness and low blood sugar on my part does not a good game session make. I did learn one thing, though: I’m just one of those DMs that needs at least a rough outline to work from. So, we live and we learn (usually).

Anyone else have an embarrassing game story they’d feel comfortable sharing? Misery loves company and all that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


502 – He’s right behind you!!

I think we should cut Jaine a break – she’s a little rattled and out of her comfort zone.

I am on the horns of a mild dilemma: My gaming group has finished their first adventure on the high seas in the Lhazaar Principalities and have managed to wrangle themselves a ship and a bare bones crew (I almost said “Skeleton crew”, but this being D&D, that could have been taken literally). On top of that, I now have a copy of the new Player’s Handbook for D&D and I really really want to run that system instead of 3.5, which is what I’m running now. Usually I’d say, “hey folks, let’s try this instead,” and most people wouldn’t have a problem with this. The thing is, I have not one, not two, but THREE new players in this group. Not “new to this group” (although that certainly is true), but new to D&D period. One of my new players just bought her own copy of the 3.5 Player’s Handbook, which is not cheap. I don’t want to make everyone buy another book. Given that one of these new players is my sister, I’d never hear the end of it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Another thing preventing me from switching over to the new D&D (or 5th edition, or D&D Next, or whatever you want to call it) is that I use the Eberron Campaign Setting and I have the following in my group: a warforged barbarian named Shrapnel, a Changeling Sorcerer named Moorea Rea, and a gnome artificer named “Gears” (think a very short Kaylee from Firefly). None of these options (except the gnome racial writeup) is provided for in the new D&D and there is no word on when Wizards is going to release any campaign sourcebooks for the new game. I know I could just make it up myself (imagine that!), but I already have one world that I’m making up (a.k.a. this comic strip) and I’m just lazy enough to not do that. At least, not yet.

What do you folks think?

Take care,


501 – Bertold’s – Open 43 hours a day!

Wow! I need to have my wife write my blog posts for me more often! Thank you all very very much for all the kind words, they mean more to me than you could possibly know. ๐Ÿ™‚ Speaking of someone writing for me, I hereby cede the floor to the kind scholars at Kilanio University…

And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia:


The Eternal Inferno. The Golden Fields of the Righteous. The Abyss. Bakersfield. These exotic locations all have one thing in common: somewhere within their borders is a doorway to another place, an interdimensional back way into a great city that touches all of the Outer Planes and yet is part of none of them: Scrybl, The City of Shortcuts.

We are all probably a lot better off not knowing the origins of the city of Scrybl. Unwise questions can get you killed in Scrybl, or at least garner you a strong talking-to by the Concordant Fist, Scryblโ€™s city watch. Scrybl is a vast city that seems to be situated on the interior of a large ring suspended in a ever-roiling mass of ochre clouds. Because of its connectedness to all the other Outer Planes, Scrybl is a sort of neutral territory where you can see angelic devas bargaining with hellish fiends over the price of a bushel of dragonfruit, where priests of Nal Niera can argue theology with minions of Kistadous and everyone gets along. This neutrality is enforced in a number of ways:

  • Mutual consent
  • The watchful eye of the Concordant Fist
  • and the presence of the Lady of Blave, the mysterious and powerful ruler of Scrybl (see individual entry)

Another peculiarity of Scrybl is the total absence of gods and their more powerful minions. The Lady of Blave uses her vast arcane and divine might to block all deities from even setting a pinkie toe into her city. Paladins and the like manage to slip past, but anything more powerful (avatars, demigods, etc.) might as well go home and brew a cup of tea for all the good it’ll do them. The fact that she is able to do this with about as much effort as you or I expend combing our hair in the morning demonstrates why The Lady should never ever be messed with.

Scrybl gets its nickname, the City of Shortcuts, because it is rife with planar portals, which are often used as shortcuts between completely disparate dimensions. For example, instead of trying to travel from Karceri to the Tranquil Seas of Neoliss, which are separated by several different planes, one could simply open a portal to Scrybl and from there find a portal that will take them where they want to go. Portal keys, mystical objects attuned to a particular portal in Scrybl, are needed for this to happen and are available in Scrybl – for a price. For those that canโ€™t afford that price and/or are otherwise stuck in Scrybl, the city reveals its other, lesser known, nickname: The Coop.

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia, Volume 41 (Santorโ€™s Sibiliant Swords to Slaadipuffs), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.

Take care,

500 – Scrybl

And now, a special guest blog post from Kathy, Rob’s wife.

As you may have noticed, this is Rob’s 500th strip.ย  As it happens, it’s also the 5-year anniversary of Meatshield.ย  Both are pretty significant accomplishments!ย  Rob has worked hard to make Meatshield what it is today.ย  He has developed likeable characters, engaging storylines, and clever dialogue.ย  I have to say, I’m pretty proud of him.

So, in celebration of strip #500, I’d like to ask a favor of all of Meatshield’s loyal readers.ย  Leave a comment and let us know your favorite thing about Meatshield.ย  I’m particularly fond of Jaine myself, as not only do I see bits and pieces of myself in her (the good bits, naturally!), but also because she is such a strong female character.

Thank you for your patience, your continued support, and your shared enjoyment of Meatshield.ย  It really means a lot to Rob to see how much you enjoy and relate to his characters.

Happy Anniversary, Meatshield! ๐Ÿ™‚

~ Kathy

498 – Vorp Redux

Yes, my go-to sound effect for trans-dimensional travel is VORP.

My copy of the new Player’s Handbook arrived the other day and I have to say, overall, it looks SOOOOOOO much easier to play than 4th Edition. The system itself seems solid and easy to play out of the box, which could not be said of 4th Edition. Now, as an art major, I also have to say this: this book is SO pretty, and I don’t mean that sarcastically! The art direction team deserves many kudos for this book (except for the gnome entry – you’ll see what I mean).

The only bad thing I’ll say about the new D&D is this: it didn’t come out in time for my new campaign, so I was forced to use the 3.5 rules instead. My seven players (7!) confronted Karrnathi war zombies and horrid rats on an mysterious isle in the Lhazaar Principalities of the Eberron campaign setting. This group is especially interesting as I have 3 players who have never played any RPGs before, one of whom includes my sister! Maybe at some point I can transition them to the new edition, but in the meantime, it’s almost time for them to kick some pirate butt and figure out how to get home. Rest assured, no mist monsters or polar bears will be involved.

Take care,


497 – Better Get Rey-Rey

And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia.


On the Lower Planes, life is a grueling existence and usually very short. Unrelentingly harsh weather conditions, demonic adversaries and a distinct lack of decent take-out food are among the many things that can make a soul give in to despair. However, for some there is a tiny beacon of hope. Well, not hope, exactly, so much as a distraction from the Brain Rats trying to eat your brain in your sleep. That distraction is the sport of Skullball.

It is unclear when Skullball was invented as the passage of time is difficult to mark in the Outer Planes, but it has certainly been around for at least a millennia or two. We think. Skullball teams are popular with the student bodies of the various high schools that exist on the Lower Planes. Incidentally, the existence of high schools on the Lower Planes goes far towards proving the point that the concept of “high school” is indeed infernal in nature, as has long been suspected. Skullball provides a barely structured way of ensuring that only the strong, brutal or cunning survive to fight in the Blood Wars.

Skullball is played by two teams of eleven players each; all players are limited to ground movement only, regardless of whether they can fly, teleport or burrow with great speed. The object of the game is to get a large skull from one end of a field to the goal line at the other end, scoring 5 points. A Skullball game lasts as long as it takes for the ceremonial Murchinpa Egg (a small demon known for its fecundity and rapid maturation rate and little else) to hatch. Once it hatches (usually about 4 – 7 hours), the game is over. Beyond that, there are no rules. Each team maintains at least two back-up rosters of players ready to play at a moment’s notice, as it is considered a dull Skullball game if there aren’t at least 5 – 10 fatalities or dismemberments during the course of a game. When the game is over, the losing team has to give up its weakest member for the winning team to eat, thus providing the skull for the next game. This is considered a way to reclaim honor by everyone on the losing team โ€“ except for the demon who has been chosen to be eaten. One imagines he/she/it wouldn’t be particularly chuffed about it.

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia, Volume 41 (Santor’s Sibiliant Swords to Slaadipuffs), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.

496 – “You are cordially invited…”

Normally, I’d write here about the 5th Edition of D&D and how it looks promising (it does – the long national 4th edition nightmare is over) along with the trailer for Tyranny of Dragons, which is amazing. I might also write about how the new expansion for World of Warcraft, Warlords of Draenor, also looks cool. I could also be talking about how I am hopping back in the saddle and GMing a 3.5 D&D game for the first time in a few years and how it’s an adventure written entirely by me, which I also have not done in years.

I could write about all that, but I’m not going to. I am instead going to write about one of my heroes. I am going to write about Robin Williams.

I understand if you might be a little tired of hearing news about him; the 24 news cycle being what it is (along with the Internet) tends to rehash the same information over and over again until new details emerge. If you’d rather just skip all of this, please feel free; no judgement here. I just want to tell you about how he touched my life, even though we regrettably never met.

I wrote a little about this on Facebook the day Robin died, so if you follow me there, you may see some familiar material here. When I was a kid, I used to watch Mork and Mindy with my grandfather, Puppa. My mom’s father, Puppa could always tell when Robin was sticking to the script or was improvising and it always made him laugh. It was one of the few things we enjoyed together, as Puppa worked graveyard shifts as a security guard and was always a frail man.

Later, when I was in my mid-20s, I was at my best friend Paul’s house and we were watching Robin Williams – Live at the Metropolitan Opera House on HBO, which was the concert film that brought Robin back into the spotlight, just before Good Morning Vietnam was released. Seeing how much fun he had on stage and hearing the laughter made me want to try my hand at stand-up, which I did for about a year and half in the early nineties (like about 1/4 of the American population, apparently). The key thing is this: doing stand-up got me out of my shell. I was the stereotypical shy fat kid in high school and even into early college; I hardly ever said “boo” to anyone and the idea of getting on stage and talking to people back then would have terrified me, I think. However, thanks to Robin’s inspiration, I did it. In the end, stand-up really wasn’t for me, as I decided I didn’t want to entertain drunks in comedy clubs at 1:00AM. I went back to my first love, cartooning, but Mr. Williams had and will always have a place in my comedic heart. I know he had his demons to contend with in life, along with having recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and I dearly hope that he has found the peace that was so long denied him in life.

Thank you Robin. I will be forever in your debt.

~Robert Chambers

495 – Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey…Dhur Stuff

For some reason, I am reminded of this scene in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure:

Bill: Ted, you forgot to wind your watch! Even after you specifically told yourself to do it!
Ted: I guess I’ll just have to tell myself again. Hey, Ted! Don’t forget to wind your watch!

To see what Dhur’s forgotten, go take a look here, when Dhur meets… Dhur.

My my, the schoolmarm has teeth, doesn’t she?

See you next Friday,

494 – A bunch of prime berks

Warning: the following contains a teensy bit of soul-baring. If that’s not your cup of tea, no problem and I’ll see you next week. For the rest of you, here we go…




Okay, full-on honesty time here, folks. As I’m sure some of you have noticed, I have been fighting creative burn-out for the past six months or so. Not writer’s block per se; it’s just that the past 5 years of drawing MeatShield have caught up with me, making it harder and harder lately to work up the drive to draw the strip. No, I’m not quitting (just putting that out there first off). Now, some of that creative malaise can be blamed on my ADHDย  – but not all of it.

Three months ago, I started a Patreon crowdfunding campaign and ultimately ended up with 2 patrons before I closed it. I’m not complaining about that, but after I decided to halt the campaign (mostly because I didn’t feel it was fair to my patrons or myself to keep coming up with additional content that only 2 people ever saw), I received a comment from one of them that really struck a nerve. The comment referenced my erratic update schedule and how that reader had to overlook my erratic posting when considering whether or not to support me on Patreon. Now, before the reader in question is offended or hurt, let me say this: I needed to hear that. The first couple of years of drawing MeatShield, I prided myself on meeting my self-imposed deadline of 3:30PM (Pacific Time) three days a week. Over time, I let myself slide too much (part of the problem is being my own boss – I would suck as anyone else’s boss) and that deadline kept getting modified and extended. Then I went down to twice a week. Lately, it’s been 1 every two weeks or so.

The point of all this is twofold: to thank you all for sticking with me as long as you have and let you all know that until further notice, MeatShield is going to a weekly schedule. If I get more than one comic done on any particular week I’ll certainly post it and it’ll be a nice little bonus. I want to get back up to speed on this, but it’s going to take a little while. Thank you for your patience and support.

Take care,


493 – Gerta Fenquick

I got the D&D Starter Set in the mail last Thursday. Here are my brief impressions:

  1. When they say “starter set,” do they mean it. Essentially, the rules are a booklet with the standard explanations of what a roleplaying game is, a rundown on the 6 statistics that make up a character, a combat section, equipment tables and a brief chapter on magic, with divine and arcane spell selection to enable a caster to reach 2nd or 3rd level before the new Player’s Handbook comes out. Essentially, I was left wanting more.
  2. No information anywhere on character creation. You’re expected to use the pregenerated characters that come with the game. I’ve always bristled at using pre-gens ever since playing in a Champions tournament game at OrcCon. I downloaded the D&D Basic Rules and printed those out and that helped me see the bones of the character creation system a little clearer.
  3. Overall, the combat rules seem fairly straightforward to anyone who’s played D&D in the last 10 – 15 years. I like the idea of Advantage and Disadvantage; if you have either, you roll 2d20 and take the highest/lowest roll of the two, respectively, when determining an outcome that a d20 can affect (saving throws, attack rolls, skill checks, etc.)
  4. It looks as though Wizards of the Coast have take a page from Dungeon World (another excellent game) by incorporating roleplaying hooks for your PC with things such as Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds and Flaws, all of which are gone into in more detail here. If you end up roleplaying any of these really well (how well is up to your DM), you get something called Inspiration points, which can be used to give you Advantage or to give Advantage to a fellow player, should you choose to do so.
  5. To be honest, I haven’t cracked the cover on the module that came with the Starter Set,ย  the Lost Mine of Phandelver, but what I’ve read online makes it to be a pretty substantial adventure.

Final Verdict: It is what is says it is: a starter set, something to get you going and to whet your appetite for when the Player’s Handbook comes out in mid-August. Mine is already on pre-order. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


492 – Deep Pockets

And now you know where the crew keeps all their gear… and the drawbacks of said. Jaine’s belt pouches are modified Bags of Holding with arcane reinforcement so that sharp objects (like Dhur’s axe or Jaine’s little-used rapier) won’t tear the bag and dump everything into the Astral Plane. Yes, I thought this through. Yes, I need to get out more.

Don’t know about you folks, but I’ve had an interesting July so far. Finally finished moving (goes slowly when there are just two of you doing all the work) and took my daughters to Disneyland for the first time for their 10th birthday (New readers: I’m the father of twin girls). That and many other vexing things have kind of smacked me upside the head and caused the unintentional hiatus I just finished. Once the girls go back to school in mid-August, I should be able to increase the frequency of the strip. You know, like a professional is supposed to be able to do. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hope you’re all having a great summer!


491 – Sore Thumb

Annnnnd the hiatus is over! Man, this move took FOREVER. You never realize just how much junk you have until you have to pack it all up and move it. Especially when you have twins, which means you have duplicates of darn near everything! Ugh. Anyway, thanks for your patience, folks.


Strangely, paladins tend to stand out when traipsing about the planes…

Take care,


490 – The Sandman Cometh

UPDATE – 6/19/14: Time has gotten away from me, folks, so even though I really really wanted to put up one more strip before I go on hiatus, I just don’t have the time, what with packing for the move and everything. I apologize for that. I will see you all on July 1st. Take care. ๐Ÿ™‚

When I was a kid, I saw Star Wars (Episode Four for nitpickers) at the Mustang Drive-in, despite my father’s druthers. By the time we got there, the film had been going for about 10 minutes or so, so I picked it up when C3PO and R2D2 are in the Jawa trawler, with no idea of what was going on. I adapted. Later in the film, Luke says to Threepio , “Sand People, the worst! Let’s take a look.” Me, being Mister Literal, was expecting men made out of freakin’ย  sand, like the Marvel Comics villain. Obviously, I got over my disappointment. Now, I have brought you all sandpeople made out of freakin’ sand. You’re welcome. ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, I may be pushing the start of my hiatus back by a couple of days, as I had one more strip I wanted to leave you guys with until I got back. So, there will be a one more new strip on Thursday at the latest, then I’m on hiatus until roughly the 30th.

Take care,


489 – Finger puppets: little known tool of diplomacy

A brief announcement, folks: MeatShield will be going on a temporary hiatus as of June 18th until roughly the 30th, as my family and I begin the arduous process of packing up all our junk and moving โ€“ again. Fortunately, the situation we’re going into will enable us to save up enough for a down payment on a house in about a year or so. We live in Southern California and the housing out here ain’t cheap. That is, unless one you happen to have $45K just rattling around in your wallet with nowhere to go…? Yeah, me neither. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I will have two more strips up before the hiatus starts. I will also be keeping an eye on the comments here and on the MeatShield Facebook Page. Thanks for understanding, folks. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


487 – Idle hands

The shoulder shell is back! Truth is, I missed drawing it and even though I designed them, I ended up REALLY not liking the new spaulders. This entire strip seems like it’s tailor-made to have Yakkity Sax played in the background. Now all we need is Benny Hill coming over the next sand dune…

Also, it’s a new month and a new month means new rewards for my Patreon readers! Each month, patrons get new wallpapers, access to my sketch blog, all the way up to having a cameo in the strip! Check it out!

Take care,


486 – It’s gotta be around here somewhere…

Like a lot of you, I’ve been burned before.

You put up with all of their B.S. until you finally say to yourself, “I don’t have to take this!” and you leave. For a while. Then they come back, swearing that they’re not like they were, they’ve seen the error of their ways and and have been working on themselves, getting better. So, like the inherently good person you are, you take them back… and get burned. Again.

I am, of course, talking about Dungeons and Dragons; specifically, D&D’s many revisions over the years. My first edition was AD&D (circa 1981), although I didn’t join my first serious gaming group until 1987 and by then, 2nd Edition held sway. Then we had 3rd Edition followed by Edition 3.5, because there’s nothing game designers like to do more than to tinker with things that weren’t really all that big of a deal to begin with. Still, it was D&D and it was fun.

Then 4.0 arrived. Like a lot of people, I had high hopes for it, running it consistently for over 3 years, trying to make myself like it until my most recent gaming group stated categorically that they actually preferred 3.0/3.5. That’s when it hit me: I could run any game I wanted! I also know that I should have come to this realization about 25 years ago, but I tend to be attracted to bright shiny objects, the next big thing, and cool game art (seriously, I’ve bought game books just for the art – this was pre-Internet, whereas now I can just download the art from the publisher’s site, usually).

What’s my point? Glad you asked. The other day, Wizards of the Coast released the street date for the new iteration of D&D, with each of the main books (PH, MM, and DMG) costing around $50. But, get this: they are also providing Basic D&D as a PDF, free of charge. This is a bare-bones version of the new game, with limited class and race options, selected monsters, etc. On the one hand, I applaud this: it gets D&D into the hands of as many people as possible, introducing the game to new players who are curious but are frightened by the steep cost of entry, and lets people decide if this version is for them or not. However, I do see the other motivation: give the customer the fishing pole for free, then make a fortune on bait and tackle.

Here’s hoping it’s not just another game of bait and switch.

Take care,


484 – Shoot first, ask questions whenever

Ch’p is a little trigger-happy. Or bowstring-happy. Whatever.

Work continues on Book Two. I have one last thing to do: draw the cover. For some reason, this is giving me a tough time, as I want it to look as good or better than Book One’s cover, so I’ve gone through tons of sketches with no clear winner in sight. Grr.

In related news, I am just about ready to release Book One as an ebook via Lulu. Price has yet to be determined, but I’m figuring around $7ย  to $10, roughly. Still playing with the numbers.

Okay, that’s enough gabbing for me today! See you next week!


483 – Geronimo!!!

If you met your future self, you’d probably tell yourself the winning lottery numbers, or who not to ask out (or who you should have). What does Dhur tell his past self? Kumquats and prom queen… whatever the heck that means!

*Insert Evil DM Laugh Here*

Take care,


482 – Last one in the water’s a rotten egg!

I had mentioned this in my Twitter feed yesterday and the day before, but I really do not know what to think of D&D Next. Like a lot of people, I had high hopes when 4th Edition was released, only to have those hopes slowly dashed over the course of a couple of years as I discovered just how truly complicated it can be to run that game. Not necessarily for the game master, but for the players; when you have 14 different options to choose from, it could sometimes take up to 5 full minutes for one person to make one move. That doesn’t sound like much, but my game groups tend to run between 4 to 6 people, so the delays add up and a lot of people get bored and begin looking at “I can haz cheeseburger” pages on their iPads. It sounds like they have addressed a lot of these problems with the open playtest that just finished a few months ago. I really hope so.

Of course, having now expressed this skepticism, I will admit that I will most likely buy the three main books (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual) for the new edition when it comes out. No real gamer doesn’t have at least two or three games collecting dust on their bookshelf that they thought were a good idea at the time, but no one expressed any interest in them. It’s a thing.

Take care,


481 – VORP!

Y’know, it took me a while to come up with a fitting onomatopoeia for this particular strip. I’m kind of proud of “Vorp.” I have no idea if I invented it or not, but whatever works, right?

Oh, and guess what? The map didn’t lead to a treasure. Now it gets weird. Weirder. You know what I mean. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


478 – Map… Quest?

Annnnnd we’re back! I needed to take this last week off as it was Holy Week, or as I now refer to it, the Easter Enduro-Rally. Y’see, my wife sings in our church’s choir, as do both of our daughters in the children’s choir (in fact, on Easter, our two girls and one other kid were the entire children’s choir). That meant that all last week except Monday my wife didn’t get home until 10:30 – 11:00 at night, singing in services or practicing for said services. Coupled with that a business trip to the Bay Area for my super-hardworking wife and… well, let’s just say we’re glad Easter is over. Now then, back to making comics!!

We are now roughly 7 days away from the end of the first month of the MeatShield Patreon campaign! So far we have one generous patron, but there’s always room for more! Here are the cool bonuses you get when you become a patron!

I’m really looking forward to doing all this cool stuff for you guys! Go check out the MeatShield Patreon page now! Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

Until later this week, take care,


476 – Get the Map

Side note: Khalinor was the name of a ranger I used to play in a friend’s D&D campaign in Las Vegas. My Khalinor was human, but the GM, Frank, could never remember that and kept assuming that I was running an elf. So, with this Khalinor, I just decided to give in and make him an elf. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


475 – Khalinor

OKAY! Here’s what I’ve been sitting on for the past few weeks!


MeatShield now has a Patreon campaign! I’m really looking forward to this, folks, as not only would it really help me out, but it’ll make available a whole bunch of neat stuff for all of you, like the sketch blog, Google Hangout Q&As, even you guys as cameos in the strip!

Click here to contribute to MeatShield!

I will admit, I did have more planned for today than the Patreon announcement. It was my full intention to announce the release of “Against the Gravel Giants – The Second MeatShield Collection” through Lulu.com. However, I have run into a few snags called Real Life. Darn that Real Life! So, I plan to have the book available as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,

475 – Bard for the win!

Oh, the sacrifices that Philo makes as an agent of the Elvish crown… ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ve obviously always had a soft spot in my heart for bards; often the butt of jokes in the gaming community, bards can actually be pretty fun to play. My wife ran one for the Eberron campaign I ran when I lived in Las Vegas and was perhaps one of the few people to have ever played a bard and actually been able to play not just one, not two, not three, but four instruments while at the game table (not all at once, though – the woman does have her limits); it helps that she has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music. She had a blast running her halfling bard, a correspondent for the Korranberg Chronicle. Yes, I’m one of those extremely lucky gamers that managed to marry someone who shares my hobby, although I’m a bit more gung ho about it that she is; then again, I don’t have anywhere near the fascination with genealogy that she has.

Take care,


474 – Phew!

Progress is being made on Book Two. I have finished all of the illustrations for the Enyclopedia Ardrisia pages and I am currently in the process of creating the Pathfinder stat blocks for Dhur, Jaine, Ch’p, and Becky. All that remains after that is to lay out all of the “business” pages; things like the introduction, the indicia, and the title pages. After that, the cover illustration. Right now, it is looking good for Book Two to be available by the end of this month. More news as I have it.

Take care,


473 – I’d like a waffle cone with my kobold conquest, please.

All right, I have a question for you all. This is something that has been on my mind for a number of weeks now, ever since I heard Chris Oatley’s podcast, which you can listen to here. For those of you who do not have the time to sit down and listen to an entire podcast (which I totally understand), Chris and his guests talk about a new crowdfunding site called Patreon. It works similar to Kickstarter, except instead of funding one particular project with a definite beginning, middle, and end, it is similar to pledging to NPR or PBS, where you’re supporting the work of the artist(s) in question on a continuing basis. The larger the donation totals get per month, the more added bonuses would be unlocked on the MeatShield site for everyone’s enjoyment.

I am seriously thinking about doing this for MeatShield. Don’t worry, the comic strip would still be free regardless. I am simply exploring avenues to enable me to help support my family, as I would like to be cartooning professionally full-time.ย  I would like to get your thoughts on this before I go ahead with it; whether you feel it would cheapen the site or that it would provide you an opportunity to help support a strip that you love and that I’ve loved (and still love) making for you all over the past 4+ years.

Let me know what you folks think in the comments below. Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚


472 – A Humble Suggestion

So, how did everyone do surviving Ragnarok?I had a mild charlie horse when I woke up that morning, but I think that’s the extent that the Midgard Serpent made its displeasure known. Besides, Thor seemed to go through Ragnarok at least every other year in his comic book and the world turned out fine each time. Twilight of the Gods, I counter you with the House of Ideas!

Looks like I need to modify the schedule somewhat to have update days be on Tuesdays and Fridays, as the Monday & Friday schedule just placed them too close together and was getting hard to maintain.

See you Friday!


469 – Did I say something?

New Year’s Resolutions Progress Report

  • Twice a week update schedule? So far, so good.
  • Book Two: Half of the illustrations are now done for the Encyclopedia Ardrisia excerpts. After I finish the remaining illustrations, I will then sit down and make up the Pathfinder statistics for each member of the group so far, except for Philo (he won’t show up until at least Book Four). Also, it looks like I will have to split up the “Hunt for the Mystic Doo-Dads” storyline into two books, so this will be part one of two.
  • Weight loss: My wife and I weighed in last Saturday and I lost exactly 1 pound. Which is fine by me, as I do not want to try to lose an enormous amount of weight all at once, like they do on The Biggest Loser or on Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition, as no one is going to be picking up the bill for the excess skin removal surgery that would be needed after such rapid weight loss. My target is to try to lose exactly 100 pounds within 2 – 3 years.
  • New Home: Too soon to do anything about it. I’ll keep you posted.

That’ll do it for me this week. See you all on Monday!

Take care,


468 – Ch-Ch-Changes!

Sometimes I really have trouble coming up with clever blog titles. So sue me.:)

I realize that it’s now February, but I never got around to discussing the traditional New Year’s resolutions. Here are my resolutions, in no particular order:

  • Lose weight. I have been trying to lose weight off and on since I was about 17 years old. My wife and I just joined Weight Watchers and as I write this we are ending our first week on the program. Wish us luck.
  • Buy a house. My wife and I have been renters since just before we got married and recent circumstances have made it apparent that it would be far better for us to actually try to buy a house instead of constantly renting different houses/apartments. Only problem is, we have never bought a house before and are unfamiliar with the process, although I have been doing an enormous amount of Internet research. Now, that does open us up to a whole bunch of first-time buyer programs, but that still does not prevent me from going to sleep each night with my stomach tied in knots, as we have to vacate our current residence by July.
  • Finish Book Two. I have said more about this in previous blog posts, but rest assured I am still working on Book Two and hope to get this out before the end of the next decade ๐Ÿ˜‰ Seriously, I expect to have this available by the end of March.
  • Resume publishing the strip three times a week. January has seen the last of the weekly strips. Starting on February 3rd, I will be posting the strip twice a week, once on Mondays and once on Fridays., A nice little way to bookend your week. From there, I am going to slowly try to build up a buffer of strips and resume publishing three times a week, which was my original publishing schedule.

That’s about it. I think if I were to try to add any more resolutions onto this list, my head would explode and/or none of them would get done. ๐Ÿ™‚

See you Friday,

Rob Chambers

467 – No one expects the Gelatinous Cube!

Thus ends the short life of Poxgut, son of Wartfinger. In lieu of flowers, contributions may instead be made to KHA, Kobold Hipsters Anonymous, in order to fund the much needed work they do in the kobold community.

BTW, for the D&D purists out there: Yes, I do know that gelatinous cubes are transparent, not aqua. In this world, they’re aqua. So there. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Finally, this almost flew right past me: Yesterday (as I write this) was the 40th anniversary (sort of) of Dungeons and Dragons!

Take care,


466 – Bottom of the Barrel

Rings of Decapitation: does wearing them enable you cut the heads off of other people, or do they simply cause your own head to fall off once you put one on? It’s kind of like how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop? The world may never knowโ€ฆ

Take care,


465 – Reading the fine print

Happy (belated) New Year! We’re back!

I hope you all had a good holiday season like I did, hopefully without the 1400 miles worth of interstate driving in snow storms. It was all worth it and we got to see many family members that we only really get to see once every other year. On the drive back, I was looking forward to getting back to the strip and really getting a handle on the schedule, as I think we can all agree 2013 was not a great year for me, schedule-wise. Then I and every member of my family got incredibly sick. My guess is that myself and my daughters had the Texas variant of the influenza (strangely, there is a Texas variant, a California variant, and H1N1) that is going around, while my wife has an upper respiratory infection and/or bronchitis. Fun times.

Right now, I plan for MeatShield to temporarily go to a weekly schedule. I hope to have it off this weekly schedule and back to a three times a week schedule by March. I also have good news; I have finished laying out the bulk of Book Two! Now all that needs to be done is the creation of the extras pages, including Becky’s dossier file and Pathfinder stats for all of the characters, among others. I hope to finally have this done by the end of the month. Cross your fingers for me! Right now, the working title of book 2 is “Against the Gravel Giants!”

Take care,



464 – Fezzes are cool.

This is it, the last MeatShield comic for 2013! I am now on my way cross-country to Texas for the holidays. The next MeatShield comic will be posted on January 7th, 2014. Here’s wishing all of you a happy holiday, whatever holiday it is that you observe.

Take care!!


463 – He has +5 to Blundering

A while back I had mentioned that I wanted to change up how I drew the strip. Today’s strip is the next step in the evolution of MeatShield. From this point forward, I will be drawing the strips in this format. The way I figure it, with my current productivity being what it is, if I’m only going to produce one or two strips a week (for now), this format will let me give you guys more story and, hopefully, enable me to grow as an artist. I know that a number of fantasy related comics such as Looking for Group and Table Titans have already embraced this kind of format. I’m a little late to the party. ๐Ÿ™‚ Let me know what you think.

Also, the strip will be on a brief hiatus over the latter half of December and early January, as I will be be making my biennial voyage from Southern California to Northern Texas for Christmas and New Year’s with my in-laws. The last comic strip for 2013 will go up on December 18. The comic strip will resume on January 14th, 2014.

Take care,


460 – “I might go for my PhD next…”

Hi folks,

A little bit of housekeeping: as anyone who has used the comments section on this site knows, you need to provide a valid email address to have your comments show up on the site. If you are a first-time commenter, I receive a notification email telling me that a new comment is awaiting approval. Once I approve your first comment, your comments do not have to be approved by me anymore and you may comment as many times as you like. If you happen to leave a comment using a different email address than the one you originally used, you may have to be re-approved by me, but if you use the same name and the email handle (the part before the “@”) looks vaguely similar to the one you used before, this shouldn’t be a problem.

However, I do you ask that you use a valid email address. Not because I want to market to you (Heaven forbid), but because I want to ensure that you are in fact a real person and not a ‘bot. Recently, someone attempted to leave a comment for one of my cartoons from an email address that ended with the domain “sharksandlasers.com.” I know for a fact that this is a fake domain name used by guerillamail.com, a site where you can get temporary anonymous email addresses.ย  I completely and totally understand if you don’t want your personal information given out, even something as innocuous as an email address. However, you should be aware that unless a real email address is attached to a comment you want to make, I will not clear the comment for inclusion on the site. I am sorry if it seems a bit hard-nosed, but that is the way has to be.

Dang it, I said last time that the next blog post was going to be funny. I’ll try again next time.


458 – Do the math!

Halloween 2013 has now come and gone; I hope yours was a good one. This year, my family and I dressed in costumes from Harry Potter. My daughters were Ginny Weasley and Hermione Granger, my wife went as Sybil Trelawny, and I was Mad-Eye Moody, complete with wands that I hand-carved for each member of my family and a shillelagh (used in place of Moody’s wizard’s staff) that my grandmother brought back from Ireland. We got many compliments on our costumes. Good times.

The street that I live on has a reputation for doing Halloween right. Many of my neighbors stage elaborate haunted houses, there are driveway cookouts and there are numerous children living on the street so there are lots of cute little toddlers running around dressed up as pumpkins, strawberries, or teddy bears. However, we do have one problem: teenagers that come trick-or-treating with no costumes at all. This is where I become a Halloween Scrooge. I’m not saying that you have to go get a store-bought costume, but you have to make some sort of attempt at a costume. Wandering around with a Lakers baseball cap on saying that you are a basketball player does not count as a costume. Worse is when the teenager in question says, “I forgot to make a costume this year. Trick-or-treat?” I withhold candy in that case. “But Rob,” you say, “aren’t you afraid that someone is going to egg your house or worse?” No, I have no fear of that: I live next door to a cop. A tough Brooklyn cop who relocated to LA who is also in a cops-only biker gang. So, yeah, security is not too much of an issue. ๐Ÿ™‚

Then there is the eye. I live directly across the street from my brother-in-law, who is a special-effects technician. He has a bay window that faces out to the street and each Halloween he puts up a screen behind the bay window and projects a video onto it of one gigantic eye looking around, similar toย Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. More than a few times every Halloween we hear kids exclaiming, “Have you seen the eye house?!” Good times. I, on the other hand, know better than to try to compete with something like that. I simply put up fake spiderwebs across my entryway with a sign attached to them that says “We are across the street.”

Onward to Thanksgiving!

Take care,


457 – Hostages!

Cheef doesn’t miss a trick, does he?

Here’s a funny thought: Since this strip began, Dhur and Company have encountered goblins, drow, giants, a lich (sort of), evil cultists, a couple of gods and a demonic dragon, yet it may well be that the enemies that’ll vex them the most are… kobolds??

Heh heh heh. (Evil DM Laugh)


456 – Hail to the Cheef!

I have been wrestling with something for the past several months. As you may have noticed, I have not been terribly timely with updates to the strip. I think the primary cause of this is my tendency to obsess over tiny little details that no one will ever see, or they will see them, but will not spend as much time thinking about them as I do. For example, how often do you ever look at Jaine’s ponytail and say to yourself, “Wow, Rob sure drew that lower curl just right?” I am willing to bet that thought has never crossed your mind, nor should it – you all have lives ๐Ÿ˜‰

What I plan to do is to find ways to streamline my drawing style so as to increase my work flow and bring you folks the best strip I can make. Essentially, I need to loosen up. I plan to do this over the next couple of months, starting with today’s strip. If you’d like to see the direction I’m hoping to go towards, look at Jaine’s face in the second panel. She still looks like Jaine, but slightly different, softer. It is a learning process and I appreciate your patience while I try to figure out how to draw all over again.:)



455 – “Once more, with feeling!”

And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia…


There are many monsters in the world of Ardris that are mighty enough to topple pillars and crush diamonds in their bare hands, that inspire fear in kings and heroes alike. Then there are the kobolds. Kobolds are wicked and evil creatures who delight in deadly traps, torturing those under their power, and (for some strange reason) have a love for live theatre. Diminutive humanoids, usually standing no taller than 3 feet, kobolds have prehensile tails, small horns jutting from their foreheads, elbow spurs, and have somewhat canine countenances. The kobolds are at the bottom of the monstrous food chain, relying on their wits and dexterity to remain alive. The kobolds are scavengers and have some sort of intellectual block against making anything themselves. A kobold is not considered an adult until it has finally scrounged together a full wardrobe of their own, usually stolen from other kobolds, goblins or other humanoids of a similar build, or from human or elven children.

If the kobolds were to ever reach population figures similar to their distant cousins, the goblins, they might actually compose a significant threat; fortunately, it is highly unlikely that will ever happen. Between being killed by their many natural enemies (too many to list here; it is safe to assume that if it has a pulse, legs, and weighs more than 30 pounds, it’s a kobold’s natural enemy), intertribal warfare, encounters with bored adventurers, or simply being killed by sheer dumb luck, the kobold attrition rate has remained high; this is barely offset by the fact that the kobold gestation period is roughly 3 months. Many attempts have been made by various ambitious kobolds to form a mighty kobold empire, only to see their empires fall apart for various reasons. As of this writing, the most recent attempt to form a kobold empire was started by Cheef, a kobold that claimed to be descended from the kobold’s god, Kistadous, King of Demons. Given that Cheef is tall for a kobold (3′ 4″) and has managed to survive to the venerable (for kobolds) age of 12, there might be some truth to that.

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia , Volume 14 (Jynga Riot to Kodann Armada), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.


453 – Pit Trap!

My hand is better now, although still not 100%. Fortunately, I’ve now finished all the wands for our Halloween costumes. Anyway, I figured you folks would like to see what I darned neared ruined my hands making. Presenting the Wand of The Mighty Rob:

13 inches long, mesquite with sasquatch hair core, somewhat flexible.

You can’t tell because of the light I used, but there is scrollwork on the handle. Also, bear in mind that this thing started out as a mesquite branch about 1 3/4 inches in diameter, which I managed to whittle down to the toothpick you see above. I made a wand for my wife’s costume also; she has decided that her wand’s Ollivander-style description is as follows: 11.5 inches long, mesquite with jackalope hair core, slightly rigid. God, I love that woman. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


452 – Whoops

UPDATE: 10/4/13

My hands hurt. A lot. Here’s why:
My in-laws live on property in North Texas that has a lot of mesquite trees on it and recently I asked them to mail me several good-sized sticks that I could carve into wands for my family’s Halloween costumes (this year we’re Harry Potter themed – I’m Mad-Eye Moody). After spending most of Tuesday and a little of Wednesday carving these sticks, I found out something (later backed up with research on the internet): Mesquite is one of the densest woods out there and it has a reputation for eating carving blades. I had no clue. Now my hands are swollen and sore from having carved three wands using nothing but my Swiss Army knife. I can’t grip a pencil comfortably, let alone draw, and I can’t even clench a fist – it feels like I have thick gloves on. I’ll be taking a little bit of a break from drawing the webcomic while my hands heal up. ~Rob

I’ve been reading the Harry Potter books to my daughters, because I must raise my little geeklets right. Right now, we are reading The Goblet of Fire. Tonight, we finished the chapter where Harry and Cedric (SPOILER ALERT FOR A BOOK THAT’S BEEN OUT FOR 13 YEARS) grab the Triwizard Cup and get taken away by Portkey, with the next chapter detailing the death of Cedric and the resurrection of Voldemort. My girls have never heard this story before, they haven’t seen the movies โ€“ they don’t know what’s coming. When the oldest of my twins was walking upstairs to get into bed, she was so happy! “Harry and Cedric are going to win the Triwizard Tournament! Maybe they’ll split the money!” My heart broke just a tiny bit for her, after hearing her voice so full of optimism. I am seriously wondering whether to wait for a while to continue the series, because Order of the Phoenix is next and they like Sirius Black, too.

It’s hard being a Geek Dad.

Take care,


451 – The Dirt Whisperer

The theory I have about Dhur’s ability to navigate is this: his ability to get around is inversely proportional to how large of an area he has to plot a course through. If we are talking about Dhur having to follow a trail, track someone, or otherwise get someplace on foot with little information, he is the half-orc for the job. However, when you zoom the camera out and have him examine a larger area (with, say, a map) mistakes will happen. Essentially, Dhur put the bare minimum amount of ranks in Survival, saving those skill points for Craft (knitting).

Take care,


450 – “It has DEATH in the name!!”

This is something that has always stuck in my craw about MMORPGs. Whenever you make a character on, let’s say Warcraft, you always end up doing these little quests for non-player characters who ask you to go kill 17 zombies or whatever. These zombies that you have been asked to go kill to preserve the human or orcish way of life are prowling around roughly 5 feet away from where the non-player character is standing โ€“ and the NPC never moves from that spot! Now I understand why these kinds of quests exist, from a mechanical perspective. They are small quests to get your character experience points so that you can level up in a really quick period of time. However, they don’t make much sense from a role-playing standpoint. Let’s say that a bunch of orcs have set fire to your vineyard. Now, would you go into saidย vineyard and try to fight off the orcs yourself, or would you simply stand on the outskirts of that vineyard and wait patiently for a hero to come and kill the orcs for you? Because, let me tell you, Milly is never getting thatย vineyard back. Just ain’t happening.

Take care,


449 – Maybe holding his breath would help?

Sorry for the short week of strips, folks. Real Life intervened, presenting me with a broken down car. It’s a 2003 Ford Windstar with over 150K miles on it with an air conditioning system that decided to seize up and explode. Since a good deal of that system runs off of a serpentine belt that runs the power steering and power brakes, among other systems, we’re talking around $2200 or so to fix. It’s been a good run, but it’s time for my minivan to meet its maker, metaphorically speaking. Realistically speaking, it’s maker is probably a crew of assembly-line workers in Canada or Mexico, but it’s just not feasible to gather them all together. That, and I would get a lot of strange looks and restraining orders. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


448 – Laying down the law

As promised, I am now presenting my mini-review of the Dungeon World game. I remember when I was a kid, I found that the rulebook to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (yes I’m that old) was great reading but the sheer density of the text in that book made trying to completely understand the entire game intimidating.ย Dungeon World doesn’t have that. This is not to say that is not complex; it can be complex, just as complex as you want to make it. I am simply saying that, after a five-minute introduction to the basic rules of the game, we were off and playing and at no time did I feel as though I were grasping to understand the rules, as often happened/happens in other RPGs (GURPS and Palladium, I’m looking at you).ย  I must confess to having been a little trepidatious about trying DW, but it turned out to be easy to learn and play. In the game are several of the standard D&D classes, like Paladin, Ranger, Wizard, Thief, etc., but the nice thing about this is that there are numerous “hacks” to the DW system, making any number of classes and races possible. For example, I am running a Human Psion (yes, I’m one of those DMs/players that LIKES psionics), which is a class NOT provided for in the rulebook, but was created by someone else to fit into DW.

Short answer: I liked it. Go check it out. Also, here’s a link to a number of Dungeon World Hacks and Tips that I found interesting.

See you all next week!


447 – I hereby volunteer us!

And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia…


Darvana is the goddess of luck, humanity, fate, and adventure. Darvana is much beloved by most humans throughout Ardris; she is commonly acknowledged to be the creator of humanity. When she chooses to manifest herself on the material plane, Darvana often appears as a willowy attractive woman in her mid-20s, with flowing golden hair hanging down to her waist. Darvana has been known to associate herself with mortal adventurers that please her, disguising herself as one of them (usually as a cleric, a sage, or some other commonly seen figure within an adventuring party). However, the fact that she is a goddess (to whom money means nothing) does not mean that she doesn’t insist on her fair share of the treasure. It’s the principle of the thing.

As the goddess of luck and fate, Darvana can beโ€ฆ fickle. Darvana will often bestow her blessings to adventurers simply based on the fact that one of them was wearing a truly smashing outfit that day, or because one of them was singing a song that she happened to like. If any god or goddess were to be said to have a case of attention deficit disorder, Darvana would be it. She has been known to accidentally let her own adventuring priests suffer horrible deaths simply because she was not paying attention.Thus, although almost all humans (with the exception of those paladins worshiping Kelamane, the god of justice) worship Darvana and pray to her nightly for the betterment of their lives, very few actually expect anything to truly happen. In the true spirit of a worshiper of Darvana, most of these people are simply hedging their bets, which she respects. We think.

SCRIBE’S ADDENDUM: Any further speculation into the nature of the divine personification of luck and fate is not advised. Especially not to any future scribes of the Encyclopedia Ardrisia, as this particular scribe is still recovering from the flux that he was afflicted with two weeks ago after writing the above entry.

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia , Volume 5 (Daactor’s Uncontrollable Sneeze to Duur, Slayer of the Living), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.

Take care,


446 – MeatShield โ€” Year Five!

Woo-hoo! Today marks the fifth anniversary of MeatShield! Back in ’09, I started this little strip with a couple of jokes in my head and a song in my heart. Well, that’s partly true, except for the song part. I can’t sing – or rather, I can sing, but it tends to make small children cry.

Anyway, since 2009, more and more people have been reading the strip and for that I am extraordinarily grateful. Last year, I had posted a video outlining some of my future plans for the strip. Some of them have come true, some of them have been put to the back burner temporarily, and some have kind of been forgotten by me. Mea culpa ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t have a video for you today, but I will have a more in-depth post later on about where I would like the strip to go. Until Wednesday, thank you very much for reading. I could not have done any of this without you!

Take care,


445 – Roadside Distractions

As I said last time, I was going to write my Dungeon World review in this blog post. However, I will be playing Dungeon World again this weekend with my usual gaming group and I wanted to have a second session under my belt before I actually weighed in with my opinion. My preliminary opinion; Dungeon World seems to be a very fun game that moves very quickly, but seems a little light when it comes to the details.


I’m going to take this next week off, as I really need the time to do more writing and to get a buffer of strips behind me. I hate to do this, but my productivity has truly suffered over the past couple of weeks and I want to get back to producing more MeatShield strips for you on a regular basis, instead of once or twice a week. At the moment, I do not have a buffer of strips at all, which makes things difficult when I have family emergencies, I get sick, my kids get sick, etc.

Thanks for understanding everybody. New strips will be up on September 9th, which coincidentally happens to be the anniversary date of MeatShield. I started MeatShield four years ago on September 9, 2009.

For those of my readers in United States, have a happy Labor Day weekend, and for the rest of you, well, have a happy weekend anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰

Take care,


443 – “With soap, even!”

Must be pretty bad if animals that are known for eating their own poop are complaining about your body odor.

By the way, I just added some social media buttons down at the bottom of this post. Do me a favor: click the button for the site of your choice (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) and share the love, would you? Thanks!

Take care,


439 – We are Horse!

Yes, Jaine named her horse “Buttercup.” One of my players once named her paladin’s warhorse “Althielas” (or something like that – memory’s hazy), which translated into Elvish as “Cupcake.” True story. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


438 – “If I could talk to the animals…”

Yay! I put up a new cartoon on the day I planned!ย  Go me! ๐Ÿ™‚

Question: Do you folks like that map in the first panel? I worked very hard on that and was wondering if you folks might like it as a wallpaper.

Here’s the full image (click to enlarge it):

ArdrisMapLet me know what you think in the comments below and depending on response, I’ll make it available as a wallpaper. Also, would anyone be interested in buying one of these as a print? Just throwing that out there, because if ya don’t ask, ya don’t get. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


437 – With their luck, he’ll grow an extra head instead.

I shared this on the MeatShield Facebook page earlier, but I thought it bore mentioning here too: What was black, white and red all over? As of 6:45PM Thursday night, my dog! When the family and I came home from from my belated birthday dinner at Buca di Beppo’s, Kathy and the girls went into the backyard and played fetch with Spotty while I went and fed my out-of-town sister’s fish and dogs. I was almost done when my daughter came tearing across the street saying “Dad! Come quick, it’s URGENT! Spotty’s bleeding!” Turns out he took a tiny chunk off of his ear by running really fast through the yard. At the time, we blamed the swing set – as of Friday, we now know it was a very old rose bush with really hard thorns. I got to find out that ear wounds bleed A LOT and that a dog’s instinct when their ears are cut is to shake their heads back and forth, spraying big globs of blood everywhere. My kitchen looked like a crime scene. The important thing is, he’s fine, they glued his wound closed and now Spotty must wear the Cone of Shame.



Have a good weekend, everybody!


436 – “…and that’s why I killed him, Your Honor.”

I have a question for the Group Mind (that’s you guys): I just wrapped up the first chapter in the Pathfinder Adventure path that I was running my group through and one of the Robs (there are three guys in this group named Rob, including me) volunteered to run a Dark Sun game to give me a breather as DM. However, he has decided to use a game system I hadn’t heard of before called Dungeon World. Dungeon World is a RPG that was funded through Kickstarter and seems to be a simplified version of D&D, except there are no initiative rolls, your character does a set dice amount of damage every time, regardless of weapon used (i.e. a dagger does the same damage as a greatsword in the hands of a fighter) and seems, on first glance, to be very heavy on improvisation and talking each scene through, which really doesn’t seem to fit a Dark Sun game to me (Dark Sun D&D games, to the uninitiated, tend to be kind of brutal). Have any of you played this game and what were your impressions of it? Bonus points if you played in a Dark Sun game in this manner.



435 – “They all had two of ’em, I think.”

Ah, the best laid plans…

I had planned to return to producing 3 strips a week as of last week; then I and the rest of my family all contracted the stomach virus from hell. Did it hit us all on the same day? Noooo, that would have been somewhat merciful; two days of misery for everyone, then – bam! – DONE. No, we started off with one daughter throwing up for over 5 hours starting at 11:00PM. This lasted two days; then the next child for two more days, then me; I lost an entire day staying in bed. Then lastly my wife who, despite being tougher than me, got smacked upside the head by this thing. Everyone’s good now, though. Yeesh.

Take care,


433 – Ever thing Must Goes!

This blog post title comes courtesy of Blue-Hand Troll.

I don’t quite remember who asked me or when, but someone asked me what the voices of the various characters sound like in my head. For example, Jaine is usually either my wife or Scarlett Johannsen, Dhur’s voice is my impersonation of Torq from the Critical Hit podcast, Ch’p is usually my voice an octave higher than normal and Becky is Merida’s mother from Brave, only a little younger. Now we have added Philo to the mix and I finally realized who he sounds like in my head: David Tennant as The Doctor.

Oh, and Blue-Hand Troll? He’s this guy:

Take care,


432 – Infusions

Annnnnd…. we’re back! Sorry for the lengthy hiatus, folks, but no more of that! As of this week, we will be back to three times a week! Woo Hoo!

So, now you know exactly what Philonoth Rhieune is: a changeling artificer. For those of you who haven’t played D&D in the past 10 years or so, the artificer is sort of a magical MacGyver; they don’t actually cast spells, but equip them with a rubber band, some sovereign glue and a Swiss Army Knife and watch out! Artificers have a kind of steampunk/mad scientist bent to them and one of the things they excel at is making magic items, both temporary ones by using infusions, and permanent ones.ย  For more information on artificers, click here.

See you all Wednesday!


431 – Trust Issues

Just in case anyone else out there is thinking the same thing my wife asked me the other day: Yes, this is the REAL Philo. I wouldn’t do that to you guys twice. Once is a nice little plot twist; twice is just plain mean. I am a tough but fair DM!

Thanks for your patience, gang, as I slowly readjust to having children home all day, every day. I plan for the update schedule to go back to “normal” after July 7th or so.

Take care,


430 – The Big Secret

As I said in the last blog post, strip updates will be irregular until after July 4th, mostly due to my girls getting out of school for the summer, house guests, and the fact that in my immediate family, there are five birthdays (including my daughters’ 9th) and one anniversary in June, along with Father’s Day. It’s a busy month. Thanks for hanging in there with me, I appreciate it.

Take care,


429 – The Nose Knows

UPDATE – 6/12/13: My kids are finishing school and I have house guests in from out of state, so site updates will be sporadic until probably after July 4th. Thanks for understanding. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hey, some of us are not morning people. It takes us a little while to get into the flow of things. Philo should be better after a couple cups of coffee. ๐Ÿ™‚

I had mentioned this on the Facebook page, but I’ll reprint it here just for the heck of it. MC Frontalot, for those who don’t know, is a rapper that is one of the founder of the nerdcore “school” of hip-hop,where he raps about things like Voltron, Dungeons and Dragons, and many other things nerdy. Anyway, he posted on his site a while back that he is using the power of Dungeons and Dragons to quit smoking. I like this idea. Only thing is, I don’t smoke. I wonder how this could be adapted for weight loss instead. Any ideas?

Take care,


427 – Vloom

It looks like the better question wasn’t “what is Philo’s class,” but instead “what is Philo?” (Insert Evil DM Laugh here).

Found out something interesting the other day. Not through any conscious effort on my part or anything, but MeatShield passes the Bechdel Test.The Bechdel Test was created by Alison Bechdel of the comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For and can help determine gender bias in media. In order to pass the Bechdel Test, the work in question has to satisfy the following requirements:

  1. It has to have at least two women in it,
  2. who talk to each other,
  3. about something besides a man.

We have Becky and Jaine, who do talk to each other and I don’t think either of them have ever talked about men. I don’t win anything for passing this test and I shouldn’t. I just thought it was interesting to point out, as I hadn’t heard of this test until two days ago. So, there you go.

Take care,


426 – The Chasm of Night

And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia…


Few locales inspire as much deep-seated fear as The Chasm of Night. In the first age after the world was created, two of the greater gods waged a terrible battle. On one side was Kelamane, God of Honor, Light, Righteous War, Selflessness, and Law. On the other side was Kistadous, King of Demons and God of Evil, Malice, Tyranny and Vengeance. What they fought over is unknown, as the priests of Kelamane are tight-lipped on the subject and Kilanio University Press does not pay anywhere near well enough for this chronicler to risk her life to ask Kistadous’ “priests.”

Finally, Kelamane got the upper hand on Kistadous and hurled his enemy’s broken body from the heavens to the world below them. The Chasm of Night is where Kistadous landed, shaking the earth and tearing a great wound into it. Over 1,500 miles long, The Chasm of Night is shrouded by a perpetual bank of dark, evil-smelling fog. It is widely believed that there is no bottom to the Chasm and that where the vile canyon’s floor should be is instead a tear in reality that leads to Kistadous’ lair in the Underworld. Strangely, the Chasm’s exact depth is unknown, as no explorers have ever come back to report an accurate measurement.

In recent times, the outer edges of the Chasm have become the home for many bands of thieves, murderers and tax dodgers. On occasion, demonic abominations will come surging up from the depths to wreak unholy havoc on the surface. The modern day countries that border the Chasm (Val’Dhar, the Imperial Protectorate of Gahl-Nabar, Mikiltuum and Tarokka) have outposts designed to repel such attacks, with varying success. Of these, the only one that has remained in one piece for longer than 5 years is the elven outpost of Arnisal’s Vigil, which is also known for their aebleskiver, which makes braving hordes of mucous-demons almost worth it. Almost.

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia , Volume 4 (Candletakers to Czarn Keep), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.

425 – Be glad Sallie Mae isn’t after you too!

I think someone had commented that Jaine tends to poo-poo the idea of looting treasure from dungeons and such, which is a prime motivation for many an adventurer. I’ve never really addressed it within the strip itself, but she did grow up as royalty, sort of. Jaine has never really had to worry much about money. Thus, money has never held much meaning to her – until now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Take care,


424 – What is that on your face?

One thing that I’ve been remiss about is telling you all exactly what Philo is, class-wise. However, instead of just spelling it all out for you guys, I have elected to take Stephen King’s advice and show, not tell readers about a character. The first clue has been laid in this strip. Let the wild guessing begin! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Also, before I go, I’d appreciate it if you all would send your prayers/ good vibes/ whatever you feel comfortable with to the folks in Granbury, Texas, who just got hit by 10 tornadoes. I have family in Granbury and my mother-in-law grew up there, so you can bet I’ve been watching the news. Everyone in my extended family there are all right, but still… TEN tornadoes. Yikes. Stay safe, Granbury.

Take care,


423 – Gotta have your priorities straight

Okay, I need a little hairstyling advice. Jaine is, in my mind, due for a hairstyle change and I need suggestions. I’d like to keep the ponytail because, like a lot of guys, I’m a sucker for ponytails, but I’m not married to it. Essentially, if you were were a female adventurer tromping around the world of Ardris and needed a hairstyle that was easy to take care of but still looked good, what would it be? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks!

Take care,


421 – I really wanted that waterslide, too!

Every time my wife and I have moved, she will ask me what I’m looking for in a new place.Invariably I will respond by saying, “Batpole. It has to have a batpole or no deal.” You would think she’d stop asking me that question. Kind of like Dhur’s waterslide. Hang in there, big guy, you’ll get your waterslide when I get my batpole that lets me change clothes halfway down on my way to the Batcave.

Take care,

~Rob Chambers

419 – Animal House

Work on Book Two continues apace, after I had pushed it to the back-burner for a while. Right now, it has the working title of “The Hunt for the Mystic Doo-Dads, Part One: Against the Gravel Giants”. I am about halfway through laying the book out. What I am trying to come up with now are the extras for the back of the book. I know we’ll have dossiers on Becky and Philo and a new, more detailed map that I’m really proud of, but other than that, I’m looking for ideas. Any suggestions for extras for Book Two? Comments below, as always. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


418 – I don’t see a ring on this finger!

And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia…


For as long as there have been people singing off-key and getting the facts wrong in important news stories, there have been bards slowly shaking their heads in frustration. Masters of music, story and magic, bards come from nearly every walk of life and are respected as entertainers, teachers, and reporters of the news of the day, as many remote areas can go months without hearing news of the outside world.

The profession of the bard can be rewarding one, albeit not always in coin; for this reason, teenagers set on becoming bards invariably disappoint their parents, who wanted them to go into carpentry, law, or medicine; something with a future. Nevertheless, the pull of music cannot be denied and there have been many bards whose songs and stories have helped shape the world.

There are two great bardic institutions on the continent of Ardris: The Ber-Zal Conservatory, located in the Duchy of Osapal in Westhame, and The Royal Imperial School of Musicology And Didactics (or RISMAD), which is located in the city of Nabbai in the Imperial Protectorate of Ghal-Nabbar. Of the two, The Ber-Zal Conservatory has a greater reputation for producing well-rounded graduates and blends its instruction in music with a magical curriculum, whereas RISMAD students are taught only the songs and musical theories approved by the Imperial Protectorate and often have difficulty finding work as bards; they tend to work side jobs after graduation, usually involving coffee shops where they can put their artistic skills to work by drawing pictures of leaves, roses and snowflakes in cappuccino foam.

Many bards take up the life of an adventuring bard, going from town to town, performing at local inns and occasionally getting swept up into an adventure of some sort. Along the way, bards learn myriad skills, some of which end up being useful, such as lockpicking, pick-pocketing, forgery and other less savory abilities, such as performing in dinner theatre. As their repertoire and reputations grow, many bards seek out patrons to fund their lifestyle, so as to commit themselves to their music. Some of the more famous of these include Nsoka ManyDrums of Tarokka, Bors Borsheall of the Imperial Protectorate and Aneira Summerleaf, the Royal Bard of Westhame.

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia , volume 2 (Attender, The to Bespectacled Otter), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.

417 – Just need an Emperor to complete the set

Like a lot of cartoonists publishing on the web, I use WordPress to manage my archive. This past week, Brad Guigar at Webcomics.com forwarded an article detailing how to secure a WordPress site against unwanted hacking. I implemented his suggestions, and lo and behold, no sooner than I did that, I got a ton of messages from my own website, automatically notifying me that over 350 attempts to log into my site had been thwarted. Webcomics.com is a pay site, and with this advice alone, it paid for itself.

Oh, and someone bought a copy of my book yesterday! Thanks, whoever you were!!ย  Made my day!

Take care,


415 – Bozo the Barbarian

UPDATE – 4/9/13 : The strip needs to go on a one week hiatus while my drawing arm heals up from acute tendonitis. I’ll be using this time to write more and plan my evil, evil DM plans. Mwa ha ha ๐Ÿ˜‰ . See you all on 4/15 !

One could argue that this latest potion-induced makeover is closer to Dhur’s actual role in life. When one does that, one should be certain to be well out of melee range. ๐Ÿ™‚


My shoulder is SLOWLY starting to heal up. I had something similar happen to my left shoulder about 12 years ago and ended up being calcium deposits in my shoulder joint. I’m really hoping that isn’t the case this time.


414 – Aneira and Franz, sittin’ in a tree…

EDIT: 4/3/13 – As some of you may have read if you keep up with my Twitter feed or the MeatShield Facebook page, I am dealing with a pinched nerve in my right shoulder, which means that my drawing ability has been impacted. I was hoping to have the new strip up today, but that’s not going to happen tonight. I will have a new strip up before Saturday night at the very least. Thanks for understanding, folks ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ~Rob


(cue Evil DM laugh): Heh. Heh. Heh. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks go out to J.H., J.A., and W.F. for your donations to the MeatShield Survival Fund! You folks made my week!!

Take care,


413 – Can he become an ocelot next?

Mixing your potions has its consequences. Kids, let this be a lesson to you.

Special thanks go out to lurker C.M. who very kindly contributed to the MeatShield Survival Fund. Most appreciated. ๐Ÿ™‚ I want to be drawing MeatShield for a living, and this is one of the first steps. One of the other steps is this: I have been contemplating making some T-Shirts and other merchandise. What kinds of MeatShield swag would you all be interested in? I already have one idea for a dicebag, but I’m open to any and all suggestions. Thanks!

Take care,


411 – Hair Club for Orcs

Hmm. I’m actually a little out of practice drawing Dhur with his hair and his chops. Oh, those luscious chops…;)

The fun is just about to begin, because one of the older adages from D&D, right behind “Don’t Split the Party,” is this: “Never mix potions. Ever.”

See you on Wednesday/Thursday!


410 – Watch the hands, Your Highness!

I know that 99% of the folks reading this know what Becky is trying to do, but just in case someone doesn’t know, here’s what the deal is: Becky is a paladin, which is a sort of holy warrior. Think Lancelot (without the whole adultery thing with Guinevere), and you’ve got the idea. Anyway, paladins can do something called “laying on hands”, which is conferring some of the holy grace they have received from their god to another person in the form of healing by laying their hands upon the injured person and praying for them. Kind of like what Benny Hinn claims to do, only this actually works and doesn’t require planted actors in the audience. ๐Ÿ˜‰

See you all next week!


408 – Ahhh, memories… or the lack thereof

Okay, I think everything is working now.

Phew! Man, last week was a great big week of suck, 100% of which I inflicted on myself. However, I am now done monkeying around with the website, everything is working as it should, and the clouds have parted and the birds are singing…

BTW, I view Dhur’s brain during a rage kind of like an Etch-a-Sketch – one good hard shake and everything gets wiped out. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for your patience, folks, and I’ll see you all Wednesday!


407 – Near-annihilation really works up the appetite.

Lo and behold, the clouds parted and Rob managed to put up more than one strip this week! This is going up on Friday night, which I view as getting it in under the wire, but by cracky and by gum, it got done! Like I said before, I’m doing my best to get back on this horse.

One question for you all: Where’s Day’l?


See you all next week,


406 – Ka-Boom

Here is one of many reasons I love my wife: After looking over this strip prior to publishing it on the web, she asked, “Is it an EARTH-SHATTERING Ka-boom?” Yep, she can quote Looney Tunes cartoons (specifically, Marvin the Martian) with ease. ๐Ÿ™‚

C’mon, you guys thought Dhur would drink it? That would be the smart thing to do, or at least semi-smart. That’s not our Dhur. ๐Ÿ™‚



402 – “Well, I’m not MOST people!”

Well, that’s that. Becky’s a paladin. Kinda.

A commenter from the previous strip named Norman mentioned Steve Weber’s Oath of Swords books. Well, waaaaaaaay back when the world of Ardris was just my campaign world, I initially modeled a good deal of my world on Norfressa, the fantasy world in which Mr. Weber set his story. Didn’t have Hradhani in it, though; just the standard D&D races. Weber’s first two fantasy books in this world, Oath of Swords and The War God’s Own are great reads, but the following two, Wind Rider’s Oath and War Maid’s Choice, didn’t quite do it for me. They felt rushed, especially the fourth book. I’m just holding out until Brandark finally gets his ship (because, c’mon, that’s where he’s headed, IMHO.)

Take care,


400 – Divine Intervention

“So, what did you do yesterday?”
“Not much. Went to the store, got some spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. You?”
“Oh, you know, the usual: watched royalty get stabbed, then had a conversation with my god. No biggie.”

Heck, the last time we hit a hundredth strip, Dhur died. Had to do something equally earthshaking, no?

Well, after years of running D&D games, I am now about to jump into the world of Pathfinder. Partly because the current iteration of D&D seems like too much work for too little fun and after discussing it with my players, we all realized that we actually had more fun and more “No kidding, there I was in a game” stories when I was running 3.5 versus 4.0. After reading up on the game system, it seems like a lot of fun. I’ll keep you all posted.

Take care,


UPDATE – 1/15/13

I love getting comments on the strip, especially when those comments make me stretch and grow as a cartoonist. I received a comment on this particular strip that neatly hit a key plot point that no one thus far has picked up on, but the comment poster used an email address that read “notarealemailsorry{at}ohwell{dot}net”, which is not a real website and/or email provider. So, long story short, if you want to post a comment, please use a real email address. I had to trash that comment because of this. If you’re concerned about your privacy, don’t be: I don’t gather email addresses and sell them or anything. I wouldn’t know how. Seriously, if you knew how limited my computer skills are, you would kick yourself for ever being concerned about that. ๐Ÿ™‚ So, just use your real email address and as long as it’s not vulgar or trolling, I’ll put it up on the site ( all first-time commenters have to be approved by me before their comments go live). Thanks.

398 – What’s around this corner?

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a good holiday season. I know I did, and now there’s a new addition to my family. Meet Inkspot, a.k.a. “Spotty”:


Kind of fitting for a cartoonist to have a dog that looks he’s been spattered with ink, eh? He’s about a year old, according to the vet we saw yesterday, and looks like he is probably a beagle mixed with any number of other types of dogs, but with his body type, we’re pretty sure there’s some dachshund in there somewhere. Basically, he’s a short little beagle with dalmatian coloring. Took to my wife and my girls readily enough, but with me… it’s taking longer. He probably resents the fact that I still have functioning reproductive equipment, whereas he does not. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I realized yesterday that i passed up a golden naming opportunity for him. Instead of Inkspot (which only my wife really calls him), how about… SPOTTICUS! “I am Spotticus!” “No, I am Spotticus!”

Sometimes the jokes are just for me.

Talk to you all later!


397 – How’s your mom doing, Philo? Say hi to her for me!

In that last panel, I was going for that whole slightly embarrassed yet happy feeling you get when you see one of your old elementary school teachers as an adult. I don’t care how hardened you are, if you run into your old kindergarten teacher, you instantly turn into a 5-year old again.
Next week is Christmas and I will be taking that week off, partly for the holiday itself and partly to get some more strips drawn so that I don’t fall behind like I recently did. New strips will resume on January 8th. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Take care,


396 – Reunited

I could ramble on and on about the events of the past few days, but that’s already being done by every single media outlet in the world. Suffice to say, as a father whose kids’ school was recently targeted by a crazy, Sandy Hook hit home for me. I am so thankful that nothing came of Eric Yee’s threats and I also feel incredibly guilty about feeling that way in the wake of Sandy Hook. To anyone reading this in the Newtown area, know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

Take care,


P.S. Apparently, the Cult of Disparoxus offers child care. It’s how they stay competitive with all those other cults that just offer sick days or vacation time.

395 – Hi Mom

Annnnnnnnd we’re back. Sorry for the dead air over the past week or so, folks. Not intentional, I assure you.ย  It’s just been a crazy month over all, what with family members and myself getting sick, holiday madness, and getting rear-ended by a driver whose insurance status is in question pending an investigation so I can’t get my car fixed until that’s resolved. *sigh*

I think another reason why I’m dragging my heels a bit is that this storyline is almost over and I kind of don’t want it to be. Not the end of the strip, mind you – I plan on drawing MeatShield until I die or am committed to an insane asylum, so no worries there. I’m just trying to tie up loose ends in this storyline without making it seem too abrupt and set up a new one. I am just frustrated that I can’t seem to get all my ducks in a row lately, never mind the fact that Book Two and many of the other things I mentioned in my MeatShield “state of the strip” speech a while back are significantly delayed due to the aforementioned craziness.

I think one final reason why things have slowed way down is that I’ve been trying to broaden my artistic skills a bit, but I haven’t developed the speed needed to ramp back up to 3 strips per week. I’ll get there, it’s just going to take some time.

Plus, the sun was in my eyes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I appreciate your patience with me, folks. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


393 – “Oooo! Shiny!”

Lo, Dhur is reunited with Grinsplitter, which for some reason is all glowy…

OK, my family and I are now 100% settled in the new house and I’m getting more comfortable with working in my studio. My studio. I have wanted a dedicated room all to my own for nothing but my art for a long time now. Wanna see it? Here you go:

My New Studio

I still need some appropriate art on the walls, like some Schulz “Peanuts” prints or Phil Foglio art, but otherwise, I’m pretty happy with it, even if it has to double as a guest room.:)

See you all Friday (For reals. I’m serious and stuff),


390 – “Like unto a fist of iron!”

When I was a young comics geek, one of my favorite comic books was a second-tier book put out by Marvel called Power Man & Iron Fist, which was unique in that the title characters ran a business called Heroes for Hire. Need a hero? Give ’em a call. Nowadays, Power Man is better known as Luke Cage, but I always identified with Danny Rand, a.k.a. Iron Fist. He was a guy who had been raised in the mystical city of K’un L’un and became a master of the martial arts. While there, he gained the power of the Iron Fist, where he could channel the power of his chi into his fist, making it (as the caption invariably stated) “like unto a thing of Iron!”, making his punch powerful enough to knock the Hulk on his butt.ย Looking back, I can see how a lot of how Ch’p acts and reacts to things isn’t much different than how Iron Fist would, as he was also somewhat naive in the ways of the world.

See you all next week!


388 – Berserk!

Three things for todfay, folks:

  1. Happy Halloween!
  2. I hope everyone living on the East Coast is well in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Scary stuff. Be extra careful, please.
  3. As you may have noticed, my update schedule has taken a hit over the last month.ย  Originally, it was because of all the craziness in my life at the time, but now it’s unfortunately morphed into habit. Thus,I am temporarily scaling back to two strips per week. I will be ramping back up to 3 strips per week after the holidays. I also have not had as much time as I would like to work on Book Two, although I still plan for it to be available for order by Thanksgiving. I’ll keep you all posted on both fronts. Thanks, folks ๐Ÿ™‚


386 – Will the real Philo please stand up?

I performed a public service yesterday . I told two relatively new teen-age gamers The Eric & the Gazebo story.

Now, for those of you who have never heard this particular story, it is an anecdotal story that has been bopping around the gaming world since about the mid-1980s, courtesy of game designer Richard Aronson. Here is the story in its entirety, or as near as anyone can manage on the Internet:

Let us cast our minds back to the early days of Fantasy Role Playing, back when ye Dread Gygax was loose upon the land. Funny how humor and horror can start out so alike. Let us go still earlier (yes, it is permitted to breathe sighs of relief) to the days before Gygax (and the courts) thought that he owned FRP. In the early seventies, Ed Whitchurch ran โ€œhis game,โ€ and one of the participants was Eric Sorenson, a veritable giant of a man. This story is essentially true: I know both Ed and Eric, and neither denies it (although Eric, for reasons that will become apparent, never repeats it either). If my telling of it does not match the actual events precisely, it is because Iโ€™ve heard it many different ways depending on how much of what type of intoxicants Ed had taken recently.

The gist of it is that Eric, well, you need a bit more about Eric, or else I wonโ€™t fill quota. Eric comes quite close to being a computer. When he games, he methodically considers each possibility before choosing his preferred option. If given time, he will invariably pick the optimum solution. It has been known to take weeks. He is otherwise in all respects a superior gamer, and Iโ€™ve spent many happy hours competing with and against him, as long as he is given enough time.

So, Eric was playing a Neutral Paladin (why should only Lawful Good religions get to have holy warriors was the thinking) in Edโ€™s game. He even had a holy sword, which fought well, and did all those things holy swords are supposed to do, including detect good (random die roll; it could have detected evil). He was on some lordโ€™s lands when the following exchange occurred:

ED: You see a well groomed garden. In the middle, on a small hill, you see a gazebo.
ERIC: A gazebo? What color is it?
ED: (Pause) Itโ€™s white, Eric.
ERIC: How far away is it?
ED: About fifty yards.
ERIC: How big is it?
ED: (Pause) Itโ€™s about thirty feet across, fifteen feet high, with a pointed top.
ERIC: I use my sword to detect good on it.
ED: Itโ€™s not good, Eric. Itโ€™s a gazebo!
ERIC: (Pause) I call out to it.
ED: It wonโ€™t answer. Itโ€™s a gazebo!
ERIC: (Pause) I sheathe my sword and draw my bow and arrows. Does it respond in any way?
ED: No, Eric, itโ€™s a gazebo!
ERIC: I shoot it with my bow (roll to hit). What happened?
ED: There is now a gazebo with an arrow sticking out of it.
ERIC: (Pause) Wasnโ€™t it wounded?
ED: Of course not, Eric! Itโ€™s a gazebo!
ERIC: (Whimper) But that was a plus three arrow!
ED: Itโ€™s a gazebo, Eric, a gazebo! If you really want to try to destroy it, you could try to chop it with an axe, I suppose, or you could try to burn it, but I donโ€™t know why anybody would even try. Itโ€™s a *)@#! gazebo!
ERIC: (Long pause. He has no axe or fire spells.) I run away.
ED: (Thoroughly frustrated) Itโ€™s too late. Youโ€™ve woken up the gazebo, and it catches you and eats you.
ERIC: (Reaching for his dice) Maybe Iโ€™ll roll up a fire-using mage so I can avenge my Paladin.

At this point, the increasingly amused fellow party members restored a modicum of order by explaining what a gazebo is. It is solely an afterthought, of course, but Eric is doubly lucky that the gazebo was not situated on a grassy gnoll.

Unfortunately, my rendition of it was nowhere near as complete as this one was, for which I humbly apologize to Sam and Cody, the recipients of this nugget of D&D history.

If you’d like to learn more about it, please visit Corey and Lori’s Quest Log, which goes into even more detail regarding the history of…. The Gazebo!

Take care,


384 – Orcish Lockpick

Still trying to get things sorted out here at Chez Chambers. Ended up only posting one strip last week because I could not for the life of me find my scripts notebook. Y’know, the thing that tells me what I planned for everyone to say and do in each strip? Yeah, that thing. Slowly getting back on track, I hope.

Also, someone had asked what the status was on the psycho with the guns near my kids’ school. He and his father were charged with possession of an illegal firearm (for you firearms aficionados, it was aย  H&K M-94) and made bail. The last I heard, their house was vacant and a restraining order was attained by both school districts involved. In that articled I just linked to, there is mention made of Yee signing a lease for an apartment in New York. Other than that, things have settled down.

Finally, you may be wondering, “Why does Jaine have Dhur’s axe?” It’s kind of like when Sheriff Andy Taylor would give Barney a gun but hang onto the bullet for it – it’s to keep him from hurting himself or making things much much worse. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Take care,


383 – Dhur, the Voice of Wisdom.

Annnnnnnnnd we’re back! Miss us? ๐Ÿ™‚

As of yesterday, we are completely and totally moved out of both our apartment and our storage unit. Yep, all our junk is now under one roof. Now to find out where we put everything. One thing that I like to do in the aftermath of a move is to treat each box being opened like some sort of present. “Hmm, I wonder what’s in this box? A coffee maker and mugs! Just what i always wanted!!” It helps break up the monotony and has the added benefit of making the rest of my family look at me with pity, as though I had some sort of mental deficiency,ย  which is entertaining in its own right.

Take care,


382 – What kinds of perfume do thugs wear, anyway?

UPDATE 9/18/12:ย  I was going to get the next cartoon drawn today after I came home from dropping my kids off at school. When I got to their school, there was a TV News van there interviewing the principal. When I got home, I had an email waiting for me from the principal. I then discovered that some psychopath had made threats in a blog against my kids’ school, saying that he wouldn’t mind murdering a bunch of kids and that it would beย  like the Aurora shootings. They arrested the man and found a cache of automatic weapons in his home that he shared with his parents. My girls are fine and the school is on lock-down as a safety precaution. However, I don’t feel much like dispensing with the funny pictures today. Maybe tomorrow. Here is the story in case you’re interested. I hope you all understand. Thanks.


My wife pointed out to me that, as of today, we are starting day 1 of MeatShield Year 4, not Year 3. Oh well, you all knew what I meant. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, lots of talking-talking-talking in this one. Don’t worry, things are about to get…. interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


381 – Dhur’s like an onion – lots of layers

Not sure where Philo got that shirt? Go back to this strip and look in the lower right corner.

I have a favor to ask of those of you who are so inclined: Tom Racine, who is the host of the most excellent Tall Tales Radio podcast, has had an IndieGoGo fundraiser going for the past month or so, which is now in its final days. IndieGoGo is kind of like Kickstarter, except the funds can be used for anything, whereas Kickstarter has strrict rules about the funds donated having to go towards a particular project. Tom is trying to raise enough cash so that he can purchase a new Mac laptop, as the one he uses now is about 10 years out of date or so. He’s also trying to raise some funds to offset travel expenses to the various conventions that he does his interviews at. While I’ve never been on his show (HINT HINT TOM! ๐Ÿ™‚ ), Tom puts out quality product on a regular basis, even if he does root for the Padres (no one’s perfect;). Go check out his IndieGoGo page, maybe go to his site and give his podcasts a listen, and think about flinging a few bucks his way. Thanks :).

Given how everything seems to have been pushed back by one day due to my stupid ear, I *hope* to have Monday’s 3rd anniversary strip done on time.ย  That is all for now. Have a great weekend, everybody!


380 – A little note from home

To quote Dhur, “DANG!” My productivity has slowed to a crawl and it’s all because of my stupid, stupid ear. Specifically, my left inner ear, which is infected and has been slapping me upside the head with bouts of vertigo for the past two weeks or so. I mean vertigo like you’re standing on a merry-go-round spinning at about 40 MPH. I’m getting better, but the primary treatment is 1) fluids, and 2) bedrest. Thus, not a lot of comics lately. In the DC Comics universe, there’s a minor villain called Count Vertigo whose power was to, you guessed it, cause vertigo in others. I remember reading that and thinking, “Man, what a crappy power! What’s next, a supervillain that causes hangnails?” No more do I think that. I don’t care if you’re Superman or Wolverine, if you can’t even stand up, you can’t fight for a hill of beans.

OOO! Before I forget, Sept. 9th is coming up! What does that mean to you, you might ask? Well, it’s just the third anniversary of MeatShield! Yay! However, it falls on a Sunday, so no comic on that day. The following Monday will have something suitably cool, so look for that!

See you all Friday!


379 – The Inn of the Moaning Lungfish

Real life intruded this week, folks. Big Time.

First off, the bad stuff: the vertigo from my inner ear infection has persisted all week, with varying degrees of severity. Since it’s viral, the only thing I can do is get bedrest (spent all day Monday in bed and off and on throughout most of the week), fluids, and just wait it out. Ugh.

Now, the good stuff: I (and my family) are moving! We’re finally getting out of the apartment we’ve been in for the past 2 1/2 years and renting a house in the same town. The most awesomest thing (to me) is that I will FINALLY get my own studio! Right now, MeatShield Central takes up a small corner of my living room. The owner of the house we’re renting is a sound engineer, so she needed a SOUND-PROOF studio, which will now become the home of Brain Fever Studios (a.k.a. Me)!

We move in near the end of September, so now we PACK. A lot. Lots of little girl toys and clothes, lots of books (both grown-up and children’s). This means that strip updates will be sporadic towards the end of the month – I’ll keep you all posted. Speaking of which, there won’t be a strip on Monday in observance of Labor Day.

By the way, thanks to everyone who voted for my episode in the TGT Tournament Finals! I didn’t win, dang it, but it was really great to get all the way to the Finals! Also, to everyone coming to MeatShield by way of that interview, welcome! Oh, and yes, the Jack Kirby story is 100% true. Would that it were not. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care, all!


378 – My name is Aeofel – -err, Philonoth!

The blog post title refers to the Penny Arcade/PVP D&D Podcasts put out by Wizards of the Coast. Wil Wheaton plays in these games as eladrin avenger Aeofel, whose name always gets shortened to “Al.” Kind of the outrage I was going for there.

I made it to the Finals of the TGT Tournament! I really need your votes everyย  hour to make a go of it, and currently I’m getting clobbered. Click here to vote for my episode. You can vote once every hour. Voting ends on August 31st.!

Well, I took last week off to rest up my drawing hand, which had been having some carpal tunnel problems and no sooner does it get better and *BAM* I’m hit with an inner ear infection on Friday, which has made walking VERY difficult. It feels like I’m standing on a fast merry-go-round with my eyes closed. No fun. It’s viral, so there are no antibiotics I can take – just have to ride it out. I have some medicine that is supposed to help with the vertigo, but it’s hit or miss. I should have the other two cartoons up this week, but if there’s a delay, you’ll know why.

Take care,


377 – “Let’s go, Your Worshipfulness.”

UPDATE – 8/18/12 – I need to take a 1- week break to deal with a health related issue. I’ll have new cartoons up on 8/27.ย  I’ll still be active on Twitter and Facebook, though. Thanks for understanding, folks. ๐Ÿ™‚

Couldn’t resist a little Han Solo reference. ๐Ÿ™‚ Who is this guy? We’ll find out more on Friday!

I forgot to give you all the weight loss update on Monday. Last week went pretty well, for the most part.


  • STARTING WEIGHT: 284.8 lbs.
  • CURRENT WEIGHT: 273.0 lbs.
  • WEIGHT LOST: -11.8 lbs.

Slowly but surely. I actually prefer losing the weight slowly for a number of resons:

  1. It means that it will stay off longer,
  2. I won’t be working out for 4 hours every day trying to sweat all the weight off,
  3. It will give my skin time to heal and shrink, hopefully avoiding the need for skin removal surgery.

See you all Friday!


376 – “That was convincing. No, really.”

Howdy, folks!ย  Remember last Friday I told you all about that podcast competition I was in? Well, I made it to Round 2! I have no illlusions that I can win it, as some of the people in the running are people like Phil Foglio (Girl Genius) and Kam & Kneon Pratt (Shadowbinders), among others. However, I would like to see how far we can go with it. Vote for me in Round Two! I’m vying against Locus Comics to advance to the next stage. You can vote once every hour. Thanks, folks! Vote early, vote often!

Take care,


375 – CSI: Westhame

Too bad I couldn’t have Jaine wear sunglasses and toss off a pun about the crime scene, followed by a Roger Daltrey “YEAAAAAAAH!”.

Some of you might remember that I was interviewed for the TGT (Two Guys Talking) WEbcomics podcast, run by Kurt Sasso. What you may not know is that every quarter or so (I think), Kurt stages the TGT Tournament, where the listeners vote for their favorite episodes a la March Madness brackets. This time around, my interview is in the tournament! So, go here and vote for both my episode and, if you’ll be so kind, vote also for Amy Letts’ episode, on account of she’s cool and is a frequent commenter on my strip. You can vote once every hour. Vote Early, vote often. I think there’s some sort of prize attached to all this, so that would be awesome. While you’re there, why not give my interview a listen and find out how I embarrassed myself at age 15 in front of Jack “the King” Kirby?

See you all next week!


374 – The game’s afoot

Last weekend, I got my birthday present from my wife which was one whole weekend (more or less) away from home, hanging out with my best friend, who lives in a beach house in Newport Beach that is about 30 feet away from the beach. Enjoyed my time down there doing absolutely nothing, and it was everything that I thought it could be, to paraphrase Peter Gibbons.ย  Now I just have 8 days left until my girls go back to school and become third-graders and I get my afternoons back and I can get back to a normal production schedule, perhaps including work on Book Two. That, my friends, will be sweet.

One other thing I did this past weekend was to purposely not adhere to my diet at all. The scale reflected it, too. I gained 1.8 pounds.


  • STARTING WEIGHT: 284.8 lbs.
  • CURRENT WEIGHT: 276.6 lbs.
  • WEIGHT LOST: -8.2 lbs.

This is a consequence I knew I’d incur and I have no problem with it. My wife and I have also decided that low carb days suck. She explains it much better than I can, soย  go check out her latest blog entry.

See you all later!


373 – “Whaddayamean, he’s talkin’ about me?”

Like a lot of my fellow participants, I got a survey from Wizards of the Coast regarding the D&D Next Playtest. This one asked me to pick from about thirty choices which ten spells needed to be in D&D Next in order for it to “feel” like D&D. For every spell level and for both Wizard and Cleric. It was kind of tough to do; on the one hand, spells like Fireball and Cure Light Wounds need to be there, no question. On the other hand, do we need spells like Shillelagh and Guards and Wards?ย  What do you folks think need to be in the next iteration of the game in order for it to feel like D&D to you? Mind you, I didn’t say “What would be super awesome to have?” Whatย  I mean is what would the game have to include to give you that unique D&D feel? Tasha’s Hideous Laughter? Wish? The Rod of Seven Parts? What do you think?

Have a good weekend, everyone,


372 – That looks a little tight

OK, we’re back. I had a nice and relaxing birthday last Sunday and on Saturday morning, I got a pleasant surprise:

CURRENT WEIGHT: 274.8 lbs.
WEIGHT LOST: -10.0 lbs.

Yay! Thanks, Chris Powell, for writing your book and thereby helping me and my wife get healthier. My wife also has a blog that she has been using to document our weight loss. Go check it out at Greek Yogurt is my Frenemy. She’s a great writer and I’m not biased at all. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good stuff.

See you all Friday!


371 – “Did you want a backstage pass, too?”

And now we know two things:

  1. Jaine’s mom’s alias is Aneira Summerleaf (Aneira is Welsh for “gold”), and
  2. Sora didn’t volunteer much more info than Cindra’s alias and location.

FYI, there will be only two cartoons next week (Wednesday and Friday), as my birthday is this Sunday and I plan doing all the traditional birthday stuff instead of working ๐Ÿ™‚ .

See you all Wednesday!


370 – Windchimes!!!

Dhur: Half-orc Barbarian or Poster Child for ADHD? You make the call.


I was listening to the D&D Podcast from Wizards of the Coast today and they were talking about D&D Next ( which is what they’re calling the playtest for the new D&D rules set) in the first half of the show. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who thought the healing mechanics stunk – a LOT of people complained about it. They said that they will have the next batch of playtest rules available in time for GenCon, which runs from August 16 – 19, and have them available for the general public to download sometime thereafter. Hopefully, they will get their online distribution cleared up, as it was very difficult to get the playtest files last time.

See you all Friday (or thereabouts)


368 – Stow it, Sledge!

Finally ran the D&D Playtest last week and overall it was… okay. I think the biggest complaint was the lack of self-healing and total reliance on the cleric for healing. I’ll write more about it later, promise, but it’s 1:00 AM as I write this and I’m going to bed. See you all Monday!



367 – Forget something?

I know, I know… someone should call the Westhame division of the SPCA for poor Vorpal, being left behind like that. In Becky’s defense, as Vorpal’s de facto owner, she’s had a lot on her mind, what with some centuries-old hammer talking to her and telling her she’s now the Hand of Morridin. That would make anyone a little scatterbrained.

Beside, Vorpal’s in no danger – she can ingest her enemies whole, remember? ๐Ÿ™‚

See you all Friday!


366 – Foresight… or something like that.

One of the problems with having ADHD is that when there is a great deal of noise in a room, I can’t seem to write easily. Unless it’s writing about ADHD,ย  I guess. My kids are watching The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That on PBS and between their laughing and Martin Short’s over-the-top vocal performance as The Cat, I have had to stop and restart writing this blog pots four times now, until I remembered that I have a link to a YouTube 24-hours long clip of the USS Enterprise’s engine noise. Very good white noise for me and now I can think. For a while anyway.

WEIGHT UPDATE: As I mentioned last week, my wife and started the โ€œChoose to Loseโ€ diet and exercise program used by Chris Powell of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss edition. This past Saturday was our second official weigh-in. Hereโ€™s how I did:

CURRENT WEIGHT: 279.0 lbs.
WEIGHT LOST: -5.8 lbs.

See you all Wednesday!


365 – Perhaps a Clove Hitch Knot would work also?

I was a Boy Scout, but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the various knots you were supposed to know how to tie and, more importantly, when and how to use each of them. I didn’t last long. ๐Ÿ™‚ By the way, we last saw Earl and Chuck here.
Here’s a question for you all: what features would you like to see on this site? I don’t mean characters or storylines. I mean functional portions of the site, like searchable archives, transcription, etc. I’d like to have the site redesigned and I’m looking for suggestions on what you’d all like to see. Thanks!

Take care,

364 – Oh, and by the way…

UPDATE: For a limited time only, Lulu is offering 18% off of any order! If you’ve been wanting to get your hands on the first MeatShield book, The Quest for the Scepter Thingie, then what are you waiting for? Go get yourself one and when you go to checkout, enter “CAUGHT” in the Coupon Code box and you’re off to the races! This discount ends this Friday!

One of the things about family: no matter how much you may love each other, it can be really satisfying to throw a zinger their way every once in a while.


WEIGHT UPDATE: Saturday before last, my wife and started the “Choose to Lose” diet and exercise program used by Chris Powell of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss edition. This past Saturday was our first official weigh-in. Here’s how I did:

CURRENT WEIGHT: 281.6 lbs.

Now, I know that a good deal of that is water weight, but I want to lose this slowly, so as to give my skin time to recover and not get all baggy to where I’d need to to have skin removal surgery like the people on the aforementioned show. I realize that’s kind of like worrying that you’re going to be a concert pianist after one lesson, but there you go.

Take care,


363 – Leavetaking

Thanks to everyone who commented on the last blog post regarding my weight loss efforts. I really did not expect that big of a reaction, but that just shows how awesome you folks are. You all truly deserve the mantle of Forces of Good, which is the moniker that a commenter named “zuche” coined a while back.

I weigh in tomorrow morning, so I will let you all know on Monday how everything went.ย  There are “cheat” meals built into this program so that I don’t just flip out and gorge myself on the nearest not-good-for-me snack. Given that,ย  I really really really want a Denver omelet right now. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a good weekend, all!


362 – “But it’s MY spy network!”

To Sora, her spy network is three parts her way of contributing to Val’Dhar’s security and one part endlessly entertaining plaything. Just in case you were curious. ๐Ÿ™‚

Being a professional cartoonist is, by its very nature, a sedentary occupation. Coupled to that the fact that I have been heavy for most of my life and you can see how that can combine to make a “perfect storm” of poor health and a battered sense of self-worth. Some of you may be familiar with Chris Powell. If not, he’s most known for being the star of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, where he helps morbidly obese people shed their weight and reclaim their lives. He has also written a diet and exercise book, which my wife and I purchased recently. We started the program this week. So far, it’s been interesting.ย  Right now, I weigh 284 pounds and you have no idea how hard it was to type that just now. I’m hoping to lose a total of 110 pounds by this time next year. I know that telling you all this doesn’t really relate to the strip at all. I’m hoping that by putting this out there, being honest about the struggles and the achievements (hopefully) I encounter, something good might come of it, for both myself and others. If nothing else, it might help keep me honest. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you very much.




361 – I’m a man of wealth and taste.

UPDATE – 6/29/12 : I am beat, folks. It’s been a really busy week around here. Normal comic production will resume on Monday. Thanks for understanding ๐Ÿ™‚

One thing I’ve always tried to do with MeatShield is present everything the way that the characters perceive it. Thus, there have been no thought balloons or any cutaways not involving any of the main cast. I’m breaking that rule here, but somehow, I don’t think you all will mind.

Oh, and one last thing: Evil DM Laugh. Heh. Heh. Heh. ๐Ÿ˜‰


360 – You could say you’re sick or something!

I had something like this happen to me last week. One of my daughters asked me if I could just tell my boss (who is me) that I could draw my comic strip later and play with her now. Yeah, that made me feel aboutย  two inches tall. Sometimes, when there’s a delay in the comic strip, it’s because I say to myself “they’re not going to be little forever, and when they turn 15 they’ll either hate my guts or think I’m a moron, so I better take advantage of this time now.”

Good advice to any parent, I think.

See you next week,


359 – It wants to hammer home its point.

As I said yesterday, my in-laws are visiting from Texas and I don’t know what it is, but whenever they visit, my productivity goes up. It’s weird. Also, it’s not like I’m being antisocial: we generally have a fine time when we’re together. I just seem to be able to crank the strips out faster when they’re around. It probably has to do with the fact that there are two extra adults to ride herd on my now-eight-year-old twin daughters.

Take care,


P.S. Thanks to the eagle-eye of frequent commenter Dragonborn Sorceror, I have re-enabled comments and pingbacks for this post. I have no idea how those boxes got unchecked. All fixed now. ~Rob

358 – Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

This is kind of how I am whenever I hear any bit of news I find interesting, only to discover that my wife knew about if several hours (if not days) before.

I know I had mentioned going back to the strict Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule after June 1st. Obviously, that didn’t happen. As it stands right now, I will be doing my darnedest to put out three strips per week when the strips are finished. The thing I forgot about is that summer, particularly June, is a hugely busy time in our family: six birthdays, one anniversary (not mine), Father’s Day, and the annual visit from my in-laws (which, if I play my cards right, may parlay itself into my mother-in-law making her beef brisket. Mmmm… brisket.). Short story long, I’ll try to keep to the current schedule, and if there are any changes, I’ll let you all know.

I do have a favor to ask, though: If you like MeatShield and the antics of Dhur and the rest of the gang, let other folks know about it for me? Reddit, Boingboing, Facebook, Twitter, etc. would all be great places to put in a little plug for the strip. I feel funny doing it myself because it smacks too much to me of hucksterism, like “Hey, check out my stuff, see how awesome I am!” That, and I kind of stink at selling myself, which everyone and their brother has told me I need to be better at. Thanks, everyone. Your help means a lot to me.

Take care,


357 – His fashion tips are a little… blunt.

UPDATE: 6/18/12 – My arm has ached all day from my elbow to my wrist. Unfortunately, it’s my drawing hand. The new strip will go up tomorrow, folks.

Get it? Because it’s a hammer! It’s blunt! To quote Paul F. Tompkins, “oh, my brain has many wrinkles.” My wife will confirm that it does indeed hurt being married to someone with my sense of humor. ๐Ÿ˜‰

See you all Monday!


356 – Sentient artfiacts need hobbies, y’know?

It is now the first day of summer vacation for my girls, who have just finished second grade. For new readers, I have twins, so I ain’t skeered of nuthin’ no more. ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  The oldest of the two was very upset that she will most likely never see her second grade teacher again, as her teacher was laid off due to the state-wide budget cuts here in California. I wish that it weren’t so, but it is. I grew up in Southern California and my extended family is all here (except my in-laws in Texas) but if it weren’t for that, my wife and I would give serious thought to moving somewhere else with better funded and less crowded schools, where the job situation was not as bleak (ha!) and where buying a house for less than $400K would not be an unreasonable idea.

Okay, I’m done rambling and complaining. See you all Friday!


354 – Even รผber-powerful artifacts have feelings, y’know.

Anyone who’s been reading the strip or digging through the archives will know that Jaine has what is essentially an iPhone, called an iOun in the strip (referring to a little bit of D&D lore). I, on the other hand, do not own an iPhone, even though my first computer was a Mac Color Classic and I have owned 4 Macs in my lifetime and in general I love most of Apple’s products (except for the crap that came out when Gil Amelio was in charge of the company). I don’t have an iPhone because I have never been able to afford the freakishly expensive plans for iPhones that the major carriers charge. My cellphone needs have been met by various handsets from Virgin Mobile, who are a decent company with a good pricepoint and coverage, even if their marketing is not quite aimed at my demographic.

This past week, Virgin Mobile announced that they will be offering the iPhone 4S on their network, one of the first no-contract companies to do so. “Great!”, I said. Then I saw the price. Jeebus! $549!!!!!!! It’s almost like Virgin Mobile is teasing me:

“Hey, Mac Fanboy, ya want an iPhone on the Virgin Mobile network?”
“Boy, would I!”
“Goood, gooooooooooood. (evil hand-wringing) Here’s what you’ll have to pay…. you aren’t attached to your soul by any chance, are you?”
“Umm, I think I’m still using it, sir…”

Sorry. Just wanted to vent a bit. Anyone have an extra $549 laying around that they don’t need? ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  Yeah, me neither.



348 – The Price

Just a quick note: if you didn’t already know about it (not likely with this group :)), Wizards of the Coast just opened their public playtest for the next iteration of the Dungeons and Dragons rules. Go here to sign up. I’ve only had a few moments to skim the rules, but it looks… interesting. I’m going into this knowing that the rules will change and that this is not the final version, but so far it looks and feels more like a simplified version of 3.0 with a smattering of AD&D and 2nd Ed. thrown in for good measure. You’d think that would result in a mess, but so far, it looks pretty clean. I don’t think I’m allowed to go into any more detail due to the NDA, but go give it a look. What else were you going to do today, work? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s a question for Wizards, though: once this thing is finished and we have a 5th edition, will they make 4th Edition Open Source like they did with 3.5? Would it be worth it, both to them and us, the gaming public? Food for thought.

Take care,


346 – ” I have her phone number too, if you want it?”

OK. I’m putting this up on Saturday, May 19 at 10:36PM PST. So, technically, I got three strips done this week. Technically. Since Saturday is the last day in the week on the calendar.

Yeah, I’m not buying it either.

Ever since I went to the three times a week schedule instead of the M-W-F schedule, I’ve been getting further and further behind, which makes me sick. Starting in June, I’m going back to my old M-W-F schedule and really get back on the stick.

Take care,


345 – Poor Mari

I felt sad when I drew that third panel. Almost like I wanted to reach into it, give her a hug and tell her everything was going to be OK. ๐Ÿ™

Something I’ve been noticing about the direction of the strip that worries me a tad is that it doesn’t seem to take much for me to fall victim to what is called Cerebus Syndrome. For those of you who’ve never heard of it, it’s the tendency of a cartoonist to start off all wacky and slowly end up very serious. Dave Sim is a cartoonist that is known for his comic book Cerebus the Aardvark, which was intended as a spoof of Conan but, over 300 issues, became a very weighty epic dealing with politics, religion and other mature matters. Don’t get me wrong, Sim did great work, but I don’t want MeatShield to end up like that, where it becomes like the D&D version of For Better or For Worse.

Don’t worry, only a little bit more of the serious stuff and we’ll get back to Dhur walking through a screen door or something. ๐Ÿ™‚

Take care,


P.S. In case you’re one of those readers that wonders how all these names are supposed to be pronounced, I recently updated the Pronunciation Guide with Mari and Sora’s names, as well as their titles. So, we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

344 – We need to talk.

Howdy, folks.

Just to clear up any confusion about Mari, since a) it probably won’t be mentioned in the strip, and b) people have been conjecturing about her: Mari is a full-blooded elf even though her ears are no bigger than Jaine’s. Elves, like all other humanoids, have two things that continue to grow after adolescence: their ears and nose. This is true in the real world – your ears and nose keep growing. Since Elves have much longer lifespans, they have more time for their ears to grow. ‘Nuff said.



340 – I know this place like the back of my hand!

Don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m looking forward to Wizards of the Coast releasing the playtest rules for D&D Next. I just hope that they haven’t dumbed it down, which was a common complaint when 4E came out – everyone claimed that it was trying to turn D&D into an MMORPG . One heartening thing I heard was that, as it stands now, the next iteration will not require the use of miniatures. The phrase I heard in one of the PAX East videos wasย  (paraphrased) “while we don’t want to require the use of miniatures, we want to support their use.” Here’s the link to that video, in case you’re interested in hearing more.

See you all Monday!



339 – It’s a gift… and sometimes a curse.

…… aaaaannnnnd we’re back!

Thanks to all of you for the kind comments regarding my recent bout with artistic near-burnout. I get like that sometimes.

Also, thanks to everyone who sent me all the positive messages on Twitter and Facebook yesterday regarding my mom’s health problems. She’s doing better and they are keeping her for a couple of days at the hospital to make sure that her sugar levels stabilize and her kidneys return to normal functioning. What essentially happened is that the very powerful antibiotics they had my mom on after her knee replacement interacted with the medicine she takes to regulate her diabetes. It nearly shut her kidneys down and lowered her blood sugar level to 40, which is almost coma-inducingly low. However, today she is doing much better. Thanks again for the kind thoughts and/or prayers.

See you all Friday!


338 – Sarcasm seems to be a elven genetic trait

UPDATE – 4/28/12 – I am extremely burned out right now, folks, as you can probably tell by the frequency of the strips lately. I will try to have the new MeatShield strip up on Wednesday. I just need a few days to recharge. Thanks for understanding. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sorry this one is so late, folks. My local power company had a planned outage today that I… forgot about. *sigh* ADHD in action!

See you all on Friday!


335 – When Noral met Cindra…

Thanks to everyone who commented, both here and on Facebook. There were a lot of great ideas and a few… interesting ones ๐Ÿ™‚ Just so everyone knows, this potential 5th party member won’t be showing up right away, and I won’t be divulging its race and class until she or he makes their appearance. I want to introduce her or him (it?) to the story organically, meaning that I want it to be a natural consequence of what is going on in the strip at the time. The stereotypical way for most adventurers to team up is for the DM to tell the players some variation of this sentence: “You all meet in a bar.” I’ve always thought that was a clumsy and uninspired way to start a campaign, and I don’t want the same thing to happen here. If and when the 5th party member appears, it will be for a good reason. So sayeth the DM/Cartoonist ๐Ÿ™‚

See you all Wednesday!


334 – I guess it was a part of the divorce settlement?

I think this’ll be the last day to put in your two cents on a possible 5th party member of URAC47 (Unnamed Royal Adventuring Company #47), also known as Dhur and His Amazing Friends. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Now mind you, I’m not saying that I’m going to take every suggestion, which is kind of impossible. What I am saying is that I see this strip as much yours as mine (in some ways, even more so) and I value your input greatly. Only thing I’m ruling out right now: gnomes. Not that I have anything against gnomes as a player or a DM, it’s just that I already have two characters under 4 1/2 feet tall, don’t need a third one.

If a new party member is brought in, I’m leaning towards a divine character type, as Ch’p only minored in healing and we’ve seen how well that’s worked out. Just throwing that out there.

Have a happy Friday the 13th everyone, and I’ll see you on Monday!


333 – “So, you’ve heard of it?”

So far, here are the results to my informal poll on the possibility of a 5th party member:

    Some sort of rogue, possibly a gnome or a kobold
    An arcane caster or some other kind of arcane class, like artificer, mage or sorceror
    A psionic character of some sort
    A divine character, such as a cleric or paladin
    Something non-standard, like a monster as a PC (kind of do already with Vorpal)
    A ranger (my class of choice when playing)

Still mulling this over and it may not happen right away, but the overall message seems to be: we need a caster of some sort, as Jaine’s been having to do double and triple duty as mage, thief, and bard. Any other suggestions? Leave a comment below!

See you Friday!


331 – Did I say that out loud?

Poor, poor Ch’p. Lucky in looting treasure rooms, unlucky in love.

Someone pointed out that Ch’p must be pretty loaded with all the loot that Ch’p dragged out of Borloth’s keep. Something that you need to keep in mind: Ch’p grew up in a monastery where money was never used – the W’Shaa bartered for whatever they needed. Thus, Ch’p never had the same love of money that his half-brother, Day’l, developed and doesn’t quite know how much things should cost, so when they stopped to buy supplies in the little podunk towns on the way to Val’Dhar, Ch’p kind of… overspent a bit.

It’s kind of like that scene in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (known to non-Trek fans as “that one with the whales”) where Kirk and Spock go hock the antique glasses that McCoy gave Kirk so they would have spending money in the 20th Century. The antique dealer offers Kirk $100 and Kirk responds with a brief blank stare and then asks “Is that a lot?” it’s like that.

Next week, a banquet awaits! Take care, everybody!


330 – Sorathassa

Just a quick heads-up, folks: strip updates may be sporadic, as this week is Spring Break for my daughters. Nothing makes for a more effective distraction from getting things done than two 7-year-olds home from school for a week. Want an example of that? Here you go:ย  I had to stop and start this blog post three times to deal with minor crises such as “She’s not having her unicorn ponies play the way I want her to,” or “why won’t you let me pour sand-infused water onto my sister’s head?” Things like that.

I must keep calm and carry on.ย  See you all… whenever this week ๐Ÿ™‚


327 – Samilleve

And now, in a continuing service, an entry from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia:


Samilleve (SAM-ull-EV), the capitol city of Val’Dhar, is a city of soaring towers and minarets, natural splendor, and ruthless politics. Since the average elf lives for roughly 400 years and rarely leaves the walls of their pastel-colored domain, a certain amount of backbiting is inevitable. This manifests in political maneuvering and marriages of convenience, such as the recent marriage of Archmage Noral’lasstas d’Vallis to his second wife, Sorathassa, a daughter ofย  the highly influential Venlan family.

While the political gamesmanship of the fair folk is nowhere near on par with the cutthroat, murderous politics practiced by their darker cousins, the drow, the elves of Samilleve have been known to come to blows with each other over whose son or daughter gets to be on the Subcommittee For The Redecoration Of The Junior Custodian’s Office Foyer this year. However, since most of the elves at this level of society have all the physical strength of a somewhat sickly 7-year old human girl, these “blows” are more for show than anything else.

Samilleve boasts one of the best arcane universities in central Ardris, The Tavanarcolis, whose graduates are required by Val’Dharran law to serve 25 years as War Magi, supplementing the efforts of Val’Dhar’s defense forces. It also has a musical academy that boasted, at one time, the daughter of the current Archmage (the aforementioned Noral’lasstas) as a student.

The Encyclopedia Ardrisia , volume 40 (Saaro the Misplaced to Sanguine River), Kilanio University Press, 48th edition.

326 – Been there, done that, bought the jerkin

UPDATE – 3/23/12 – Like I said below, it’s been a rough week. I tried to get a second comic out this week, but I am still feeling kind of puny, as the antibiotics they have me on make me really tired. I’ll have the new comic up on Monday. Thanks for understanding, folks. You’re the best. ๐Ÿ™‚

Man, it has not been a fun couple of days, folks. I won’t gross you out with the details, just suffice it to say that since Saturday, I’ve not been well. However, really strong antibiotics have done the trick and I am now finally off the BRAT diet, which gets old really fast.

See you all Friday!


325 – “I am SO getting written up for this, I just know it.”

UPDATE: 3/20/12 – Due to some minor health complications (you don’t want the details, trust me) there will only be two comics this week. I should be back to normal (or as normal as I get) next week, after this round of antibiotics are done with. New cartoon tomorrow, folks, and thanks for your patience.ย  – Rob

OK, this is a little off topic, but it’s what was bouncing around in my head when I wrote this strip. Years of customer service training has conditioned me (like many other people) to say “thank you” when someone thanks me, like so:

  • Customer: “Thank you.”
  • Me: “No, thank you!”

Don’t know why I still say that instead of “you’re welcome,” but I do. Anyway, in most of the U.S. there is an awesome chicken sandwich fast food chain called Chik-fil-A (pronounced chick-fill-Ay, not chick-fill-uh). Every time I order via the drive-thru at CFA (as we “in the know” call it) and I reflexively say “thank you” instead of “you’re welcome,” the cashier always responds with “My pleasure!” Not “thank you,” but “my pleasure.” Not that this bothers me, it’s just not a phrase you hear very often or when you do hear it, it isn’t used sincerely. So, I got curious one day and as the cashier was handing me my food, I asked if they’re all told to say that. Turns out, they DO have to say it, it’s in their employee training materials and if they get caught not saying it, they can get written up. Makes me glad I am no longer in customer service, and to all of you still in it, man, you have my sympathy. I have felt your pain.

All this made me think of the poor, hapless border guard between Tarokka and Val’Dhar. Not a soul around for weeks at a time and the one time he actually has someone try to cross the border, it’s his leader’s daughter and her entourage.

Yeah, so, that’s what was in my head. ๐Ÿ™‚

See you all next week!


323 – On The Catwalk

Wondering what Dhur means by “payback”? Go take a look at this tidbit from the past.

Just in case you’re not up on your fantasy character costuming, from left to right we have Bill (and a plush Frank the dragon) from Legend of Bill by Dave Reddick, Yeagar from Nodwick by Aaron Williams,ย  He-Man by Mattell,ย  followed by Dhur’s new armor.

Also, note the enigmatic return of the Belt Buckle of Expressiveness! I had come up with another name for it, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was. So, “Belt Buckle of Expressiveness” is now its official name. Tah Dah!

Welcome to all of you new readers coming here from the new Project Wonderful ad campaign! Glad to have you here! Mind the chimera hound, she’ll eat anything. ๐Ÿ™‚

See you all Wednesday!


321 – Love at first sight

I was made aware of something earlier today which frustrated me. Mike, a longtime reader serving in Afghanistan, tried to order a copy of my book but Lulu, the company I’m publishing the book through,ย  cannot ship to overseas military addresses or APO/FPOs. If anyone else is having this problem, let me know by sending me an email at rob(at)meatshield(dot)net. I will find a way to get my book into your hands. That’s a promise.

See you all Friday!


320 – Maybe we need to put bells on his shoes?

Thanks to everyone for the congratulations last Friday on my 10th wedding anniversary. I have been told by at least one of you that the 10th anniversary is the Tin anniversary, meaning that people should buy you gifts made of tin, I guess, which seems like an odd choice to me. Anyway, we had a nice dinner out on Friday and then, later that night, we celebrated further by staying up with a vomiting child until 1:30AM.

Ah, wedded bliss.

I just got an email from Lulu.com. They are offering 20% off on The Quest for The Scepter Thingie, the first MeatShield book, for three days only! Enter coupon code SPACIOUS305 at checkout and receive 20% off your order. This discount code expires on March 7, 2012 at 11:59 PM PST, so grab that sucker and help me save up for our 20th anniversary celebration (one word: cruise)!

See you all later!


318 – Lootin’ Time!

I realized something today: Dhur and the rest of the crew have a hard time with magic items. They either get stolen from them, destroyed, or (often times) forget that they have them. For instance, someone pointed out that Dhur is currently using Jaine’s Cloak of Second Chances as a kilt and could have used it to go back in time and fix everything. This is true and there is a completely valid reason why he didn’t.

I forgot I gave the cloak to Jaine in the first place.

This happens a lot in my D&D campaign. I’ll often give out magic items that at the time seem really cool to me and to the player receiving them. Then we fast forward three or four games sessions and they trot out said magic item and I’ll frown in puzzlement and ask when they got that. My players then remind me that I gave it out in the first place.

This is one of the curses of ADHD: it makes being the DM just a tiny bit harder.

See you all Friday,


315 – Blissfully Oblivious

One of the things that will always be a constant in MeatShield is Dhur’s sense of blissful obliviousness and today is a prime example of that. The man comes back from the dead (which is no mean feat) and one of the first things he wonders about is why he was tapped to perform an errand. To borrow a line from an otherwise so-so movie, The Mexican, Dhur just manages to Forrest Gump his way through his life.

Take care,


314 – It’s a little breezy in here.

UPDATE 2/21/12: Due to the President’s Day weekend (and my girls being at home with me for 4 days in a row), I’m a little behind. There will be two comics this week, with the normal 3/week update schedule resuming next week. Thanks for understanding, folks! ๐Ÿ™‚

One of the racial traits of half-orcs seems to be a lack of modesty.

By the way, this is probably as close as I’ll get to drawing anything Not Safe For Work in this strip. So, there you have it: Dhur’s butt. Enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚

And, yes, to the commenter that goes by the name Methardin, Dhur did indeed lose his secret stash. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, go take a look at the last time Dhur was naked (or at least semi-naked).

Take care, everybody!


313 – VWOOSH!

Well, after this bit with Borloth, I’ve realized two things:

  1. Skeletons are a pain in the neck to draw, and
  2. It’s really hard to show facial expressions on a character when that character doesn’t have a face.

Next up: we deal with a naked half-orc. You’re welcome, ladies ๐Ÿ˜‰

Take care,


312 – Candygram. Land Shark.

I would have had this cartoon up earlier today, but I had my first “Oh Crap, I lost my kid!” moment today. I was picking my daughters up from school today and normally, they walk the kids out to a valet line to be picked up or they can let them cross the parking lot to a small grassy area where some of the parents wait for their kids. Anyway, I was waiting on the little mini-lawn and my daughter Emma walked across to me, while my other daughter, Nicki, was nowhere to be found. Upon asking the teacher where Nicki was, the teacher had a “deer-in-headlights” look which officially scared me – she hadย  no idea where Nicki was at. One of Nicki’s classmates then said that Nicki had forgotten her backpack and went back to the classroom to get it. I ran over to the classroom on the other side of the school and Nicki was nowhere to be found. Fortunately, she had passed me going the other way (which, given the way this school was designed, is possible) and her teacher kept her there until someone could be sent to get my panicky butt. So, everything turned out OK, but…. hooo boy, did that scare the crap out of me.

OK, fear-triggered adrenaline has finally subsided. I need to go take my three favorite girls out for Valentine’s Day.

Take care,


310 – We need to talk about your place in the organization

EDIT: Jeff, a frequent commenter, recently putย  Scepter Thingie on Goodreads.com, as you’ll read in the comments below. Thanks, Jeff! Here’s the link to GoodReads!

Did you know that today roughly marks my two-and-a- half year anniversary drawing MeatShield? Me either! I found that out when I updated my LinkedIn profile and it asked me how long I had been at my current job, which is drawing MeatShield, and they calculated it as being 2 1/2 years. Interesting, no?

I have a question for you all: what would you think of me making The Quest For the Scepter Thingie available as an e-book? I’m just starting to explore that idea and researching what would be involved. There would be all the same content as in the print version, alhtough since it wouldn’t be a print version, it could be in color, since pixels is cheap.:) Let me know what you all think.



306 – Let’s have a little chat, my victims–err, my friends.

Think about it. Borloth is in that keep of his day-in and day-out, his only company being the undead he makes, who can’t be all that riveting to hang around with.

Borloth: So, guys, read any good books lately?
Borloth: *sigh*

Heck, after watching my girls all day (for new readers, I’m a stay-at-home dad of twin 7-year-olds), I can get desperate for adult conversation.:) So, I can sort of get where Borloth is coming from.

Take care,


304 – “The poisoned spikes are a nice touch, though.”

I went looking around the net for trap ideas for this strip and boy howdy, are there a LOT of ideas for RPG traps out there! It was kind of awe-inspiring, in its own way. They gave me some good ideas for when I start back up GMing in two weeks. I had been playing a half-elf battlemind named Kevon d’Medani, which looks like a cool name when you write it down. Then someone else says it out loud.

“Who’s your guy, Rob?”

“Kevon d”Medani, a Medani Trueseer and half-elf battlemind.” (NOTE: Kevon was pronounced by me as Kev-ONN)

“You mean… Kevin? Your guy is named ‘Kevin’?”

“No… he’s Kev-ONN… he’s… but… *grumble*.ย  Fine. He’s named Kevin.”

Next time I get to play (which won’t be for quite a while) I will do two things:

  1. Come up with a better name. This goes without saying. I may go all Welsh and make it nothing but consonants and the letter “y”.
  2. NOT run a Psionic character. I’ve tried running a psionic character in three different campaigns, and have never enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. So, sad to say, but never again will I run a master of the mind. I’m thinking of running an Avenger, if for nothing else than the chance to utter this battlecry: “AVENGER ASSEMBLE!”

OK, I’m done rambling. See you all later!


301 – “I don’t feel dead!”

I know I’m a little late with this, but I thought that I’d do one of those “New Year Resolutions” posts that’s so popular with all the kids on the Interwebs these days. ๐Ÿ˜‰

For 2012, here’s what I hope to accomplish with MeatShield:

  1. Publish the second book. Right now, it’s under the working title of “The Race for the Mystic Doo-Dads,” but that most likely will change. I hope to be able to afford to print up my own books, instead of going through Lulu.com, whose print quality has been… okay. Not horrible, but I’ve had some friends who ordered copies of The Quest for the Scepter Thingie to give as gifts that ended up with one copy that was missing about 15 pages. If you have ordered a copy of TQFTST and it ended up being defective, it needs to be returned to Lulu. Right now, everything with Book Two is in the planning stages, and I *should* have it available by late October 2012.
  2. Increase the readership of the site. Right now, about 400 or so people are reading MeatShield regularly, which is amazing! However, I would like to grow this little community of ours by at least a factor of ten.
  3. Offer more MeatShield merchandise for you folks. I flirted a little bit with using Cafรฉ Press to offer a cap and a t-shirt, but I’d like to know from you all what you would like. Nailmoor shot glasses? T-Shirts from the Kilanio Tourism Board? Character sketches for your personal RPG characters? I’m open to any and all suggestions.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll probably be adding to or clarifying this list later on, but I feel like this is a good starting point.



300 – Two – err, One Ticket to Paradise

So, yeah, folks, he wasn’t teleported. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve decided that with each 100 strips (or so), the characters go up in level. So, they’re all 3rd level, essentially.ย  You’ll also note that the only place where Dhur’s level and class are mentioned is in the afterlife, which tells me that whoever rolled Dhur up min-maxed it and used both INT and WIS as dump stats.

See you all Monday!


299 – Minesweeping!

Wow. Look at that. This is cartoon #299. How time flies…

More on this whole D&D 5th Edition thing:ย  There were some interesting things brought into 4th edition that I hope make it to 5th edition unscathed. The shortened skill list was a blessing from on high compared to the mess that 3.0 and 3.5 gave us, but if there is anything that both my players and myself hate with the passion of a thousand dying suns, it’s Skill Challenges. I have yet to find even one vaguely interesting and seems almost tacked on to ensure that the game doesn’t devolve into nothing but hack-n-slash. The idea of clerics having more to do than heal people up and put the smack down on ONE creature type (undead) was awesome, as was the broadened class options, like the avenger, warlord, etc. I could ramble on and on about this, and probably will in the weeks and months to come. I will say this: Unless the new system is so AMAZINGLY fun and easy to run, I’ll probably stay with 4th Eidtion. I’ve already changed game systems on my group ( 3.5 to 4) and if I were to try it again, I’d probably be looking at a mutiny. ๐Ÿ™‚

Unless, y’know, the new system is REALLY cool ๐Ÿ˜‰



298 – Failed Saving Throw

Welcome to the new year, folks! I thought I’d start off the new year with something subtle and understated. So, yeah, Dhur’s dead โ€“ or is he? Bwa Ha ha ha!

So, it looks like Wizards of the Coast has decided to start work on Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, and will supposedly be using player feedback in playtests to refine the game. I hope they do a good job on it, because, although I play 4th edition and like it (for the most part), I do wish the game were simpler: as it stands now, it is more of a tactical game versus a role-playing game. Making a character for the game is more of an exercise in mathematics than cooperative stroytelling, and me am not good at the math thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

To find out more about what WotC has in mind, go take a look at their official press release.