A quick break…
A quick break…

Joel gets Slushies, Abbie gets some Serious Talk. I think Joel got the better deal…

News: Posted March 12th, 2020 by Alina

^ 64 Comments to “A quick break…”

  1. Qeshen Says:

    Yeah, **that** one hurts.

    I had some issues when I came to D&D in the beginning. It’s a long time ago and I’ve gotten help since then, but I had a similar outburst to Mark’s (Personal issues, nothing physical, just loud and unreasonable) that I immediately regretted.

    I stepped back and took a break to work on myself, and told the one close friend I’d made at the time as much. A month or two later I was feeling a lot better and decided to see if maybe there was a game running I could jump in on, and I got hit with the “They don’t want you at the table anymore” talk.

    Probably one of the few times I cried myself to sleep.

    Posted March 15th, 2020 at 11:42 pm
  2. Joker Says:

    I don’t discount her concerns, it sucks but she does have a legitimate point. I feel bad for Mark because that can isolate him even further when he is already probably not feeling great

    Posted March 15th, 2020 at 11:43 pm
  3. Merlin Says:

    Hm. I know Mark stepped way out of line, but a single incident does not a pattern make. He is absolutely responsible for his behavior, but I would not call him violent. At least, no more than any other man, and at least he’s getting some help for his issues at last. I don’t mean that Mark should be let off the hook, mind you. She is absolutely right to think about the safety of herself and her friends. Still, she may be misjudging Mark terribly by simply calling him a “violent man.”

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 12:27 am
  4. Jess Says:

    Looks like today it’s Abbie’s turn to get a bit defensive and not think through what she’s saying first. Just goes to show how common it is to react defensively. Though it looks like Abbie’s already realising she was doing that, which is good.

    Good on Katie for speaking up about her boundaries.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 1:13 am
  5. maneyan Says:

    And, alas, now the long term consequences of Mark’s actions bare themselves. As much as his close friends rush to his side to support him, the shockwaves reverberate through the social circles. There’s probably going to be a lot of people who agree with Katie.

    Wonder how Mark will handle this? It’s not like it’s gonna go away, and when he is confronted with it… I mean either he settles into the new role of a semi-pariah in his social group, or he runs away. Gonna suck either way.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 1:47 am
  6. Bagge Says:

    Yeah.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 2:05 am
  7. Keywii Says:

    I feel bad for Mark because he has one mental break down and everyone is acting like that is how he always is. I sort of feel like he had been a part of that group long enough that should know that was out of his character.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 2:13 am
  8. Just Someone Says:

    After all the time she’s known him and was not there for the push down, she’s cutting him off (and doing so though a mutual friend). Interesting. Very human reaction there, I like the writers choices here. Interested to see how this plays out.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 2:17 am
  9. Daniela Says:

    Strange. But I don’t see him as violent. Just one wrong step.
    But it does look like it, that’s true. How would I react?!?
    On second thought: Katie is right! So often, even the victim says “But he is my friend!” and people continue. She doesn’t know him that well, after all.
    Still I think, he just needs to get over it.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 3:04 am
  10. Daniela Says:

    By the way: Alina, I think it might be a good idea to update he “Cast” list. The people there have changed a lot, haven’t they!

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 3:06 am
  11. DiploRaptor Says:

    I am incredibly biased on this but I have to say I feel this is incredibly biased against poor Mark.
    Like I get actions have consequences and he did something he is gonna regret he ruined his relationship with his girlfriend(and i hope that he can make that up and fix it however unlikely it is)

    But that hurts that type of stance shuts down the ability to give him a second chance.
    Frankly taking the time away from him taking the time to let him work out his problems that that is fine but the implication of never allowing him to be at your table isn’t great.
    Also it is kind of biased to call him a violent man from one incident.

    Then again i can understand and and appreciate her reasons.
    But doing something like forcing that on Abbie that she has to tell him implies you are afraid he will get violent and further lets you dissociate from him as a person and instead feel he is a problem.

    Taking the time off from him and making it clear you are worried and need to feel safe is important and when that happens he is always welcome back is probably the better option.
    Giving someone the ability to improve is always better then simply shunting them from one’s life is my personal stance. Mind you with exceptions and his outburst is certainly a good reason to take such a break and contemplate such action.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 3:10 am
  12. Nespa Says:

    I dunno I think if Katie does not want him there because of boundaries, she should be the one who tells him not Abby. I understand that she is not comfortable with it but she can probably explain why better than Abby does.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 4:57 am
  13. KittyChaos Says:

    It’s nice to see actual consequences for Mark for once.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 5:25 am
  14. Drraagh Says:

    I like seeing the replies that comment on how it is unfair to judge Mark that way. I understand the reasons why, sure he’s coming across as violet, especially acting out against people but as Merlin said, ‘One incident does not a pattern make’.

    Mark will need to repair broken relationships for sure, but just because someone gets into one fight doesn’t suddenly make them a troublemaker. Not to mention he pretty much ‘immediately’ went to get help. I put the quotes as not sure exactly how much time past, but it likely wasn’t too much between events (though I would assume you can’t just get into see a shrink in a day’s notice)

    So, he’s make a few poor choices, he is rectifying them as he realized right after he did it that it was wrong. How does he prove to them that he’s not the same person that did that, if they’re not willing to give him a chance?

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 5:55 am
  15. Phaethon Says:

    Well, this resonates with me, and even makes me angry somewhat.

    First, let me make it absolutely clear that I think Katie is fully in her rights to accept whomever she wants at her table. However, I do not think that means her motives or ultimate decision cannot be criticized and it is within this context that I am writing this response. In short: “Absolutely, you can exclude whomever you want from your table, but I still think you’re wrong and this is why:”

    Mark is not, by any reasonable definition of the term, a violent man. He has experienced a SINGLE violent incident, closely linked to an emotional breakdown, and unlike e.g. abusive people, he is actively seeking therapy to deal with this problem. Also, consider his record so far. Violence is NOT his go-to response for when he feels uncomfortable or when he’s dealing with out-of-the-ordinary situations; in fact, I would argue that his record shows that he has a tendency to avoid conflict, perhaps to an unhealthy degree. To label him a ‘violent man’ on the basis of a single incident is non-representative, as no pattern of violent response has been established (as has been previously also stated by Merlin, Raptor and others).

    I do not know the circumstances behind Katie’s fear of violent men and I am not trying to invalidate it; I can only state my belief that in THIS PARTICULAR case she is (willingly or not) operating on faulty assumptions regarding Mark and showing bias (possibly with good reason – but still bias).

    RPG communities pride themselves (or SHOULD pride themselves) on being places of safety, inclusiveness and open-mindedness. While excluding a demonstratively and repeatedly toxic person from a group is both a responsible and right thing to do, ostracizing someone for ONE misstep that threatens this environment is, IMHO, absurd. By effectively ‘punishing’ this person for breaking the social contract you are preventing them from improving themselves and denying them any second chance. It is the equivalent of a punishment-based instead of a rehabilitation-based prison system; the former makes the community feel good short-term for expelling a threat, but the latter is the one that improves society as a whole. I am speaking from personal experience – as part of a gaming group, I broke the social contract and, through ignorance, made people feel very uncomfortable. Thankfully, the group (including the people I had offended) took it upon themselves to explain where I had done wrong and supported me by being there when I tried to be better. I have not been a repeat offender since, and I have similarly tried to assist other people in the group.

    How would we deal with this particular situation? I think Abbie’s response is both healthy and honest here – Mark is NOT a violent person, and he IS her friend because of it. If anything, she should be saying that to Katie (and no, ‘he wouldn’t hurt YOU’ is not a good response, Abbie, argh, that implies that he would casually hurt OTHER people). ‘He made a mistake, he knows it and acknowledges it, he is in THERAPY to deal with it and he needs our support right now, to be a better person’ would be a proper ‘full’ response.

    As a final note, I am a bit peeved by the last panel, and Katie’s request to Abbie to tell Mark that he is no longer welcome to her table. That is a demand that is CLEARLY influenced by her fear of ‘violent men’ and, as such, very understandable, but it is ALSO selfish and cowardly (and yes, things can be all of that at the same time). If you wish to ostracize someone from your social cycle (and, once again, Katie is FULLY WITHIN HER RIGHTS TO DO SO), the responsible thing is to tell them yourself, not offload the unpleasant duty to a mutual friend and force them to take sides, or be the ‘bad guy’. And I also can’t help but notice that this discussion is taking place one-on-one, in an isolated environment, between Katie and Abbie, i.e. the member of the group that is arguably the LEAST well-equipped to handle awkward social situations. This is not, not, NOT being handled well.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 6:24 am
  16. Anon A Mouse Says:

    I’m glad Katie is taking a stand about her feelings and speaking to her friends about it. Also it’s important for her friends to respect that decision and not try and force her to be around someone she’s uncomfortable with.

    That being said, I feel Abbie was right in defending Mark on this one. I feel, personally, that calling Mark a “violent man” is a bit of a stretch. I realize we see a LOT more of these characters than any individual person and Katie likely only sees Mark at the games since she doesn’t seem to be part of the “main” group of friends so this incident likely stands out for her. However, all of Marks friends have seen him much more clearly. I’m not justifying anything he did at ALL but to claim this incident labels him a “violent man” because of a single (as far as we know and admittedly violent) outburst seems a bit presumptive.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 7:29 am
  17. Michael Chandra Says:

    Somehow I doubt kicking him when he’s down will help.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 7:31 am
  18. Wanderer Says:

    Mm, glad my old gaming group didn’t jump that way when I lost my temper and smacked my head against a wall. (That poor wall.) Don’t get me wrong, I can understand her reaction, and it’s a very safe one. Plus, she’s not saying she can’t be at the same table with him — only that she can’t be his GM. Of course, by sending the message through a common friend, she may be indicating that she doesn’t want to have anything to do with him at all, anymore, which could hurt his already shaky self-esteem. I can only hope that she’s willing to believe that people can get better — not everybody believes that, or ever has.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 7:52 am
  19. Kobold Says:

    No way… Katie? O.O I did not picture her like that… I’d guessed she’d be the one squaring up and giving chapter and verse to whoever crossed a line. Also… why tell Abbie and make her responsible for breaking the news?

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 8:24 am
  20. Dru Says:

    The comments have been just as thought-provoking to read so far.

    I’m fully on board with Katie and wish I’d been brave enough to say something. There are some men in my life who had their “one and only” incident, (which was more like a few escalating things) and who worked on becoming better people. But there’s always a part of me that stays vigilant, event a decade later. It’s exhausting to do, especially in a way that maintains group cohesion without making others think I’m overly paranoid.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 8:51 am
  21. SolitareLee Says:

    God, yeah, I’m totally of two minds on this one too. On one hand, it’s good for Abby to speak up about her comfort zones and enforce her boundaries! On the other hand, it is kind of brutal considering all his other friends go to the group. And making his friend give him the talk for you? I’d get why you’d want to, but jeez, maybe at least a text, rather than forcing his friend to devastate him again right after he just took a hit. How uncomfortable will that be for her? There’s enforcing your boundaries and then there’s making other people enforce them for you, y’know?

    On the other hand, I appreciate how supportive Abby is. There was a similar (if much worse) incident where one of our D&D group members constantly sexually harassed me and the other girl in the group (who also wound up quitting because of it), and even when I told them it escalated to him assaulting me, basically no one had my back. The real hero of this situation, imho, is Abby, who clearly has both her friends’ backs to an extreme degree.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 9:04 am
  22. Frankie D. Says:

    @DiploRaptor No one is owed a second chance.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 11:15 am
  23. Jade Gryphion Says:

    A lot of people are addressing the bias, which honestly, I could argue either side of pretty well…

    But what concerns me the most is involving Abbie and the effect that this will ultimately have on her. Even if it’s untrue, the stress of feeling like you are the sole advocate for someone who is no longer permitted to speak for themself is immense… and make no mistake… at this point, Mark is in exile. His world has collapsed to a much smaller packet of friends, all of whom are going to receive at least some small level of grief and judgement for their continued association with him.

    Strong-willed members of the group will be fine… but frankly, this is a critical point for many of them who will feel like their caught in the teeth of a machine, compelled to make a decision that will require them to cut away a piece of themselves that they still care very deeply for inorder to maintain the other important relationships in their life.

    Katie is PERFECTLY within her rights to disallow ANYONE that she chooses from interacting with any group she leaves, and she is in her rights to leave any group Mark chooses to join. But I really feel she crosses a line when she puts it on other people to communicate these things, particularly to someone who she once considered a friend or acquaintance. This feels cruel. Unintentionally… but cruel none the less…

    Seriously. Don’t put people in the position of advocating or mediating for you and another person unless they AGREE to it. It is a consent issue, honestly. Don’t force people into this position, ever; many are not equipped for the task, and many don’t have the energy to take on this emotional labour.

    Anyway, two cents…

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 11:27 am
  24. H Says:

    Hmm, my instinct is to say that this is way too harsh, but I’ve recently been in a gender swapped version of this where I wasn’t comfortable with a bipolar woman who was part of a group I was playing with. Several people seemed fine with it, but I’ve had a history of abusive relationships so I couldn’t be there during that.

    Granted, I gave her 5-6 chances and it DID turn out to be a pattern, but I imagine that’s not so interesting for a comic.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 11:56 am
  25. Thomas Says:

    Isn’t this kind of a mean thing to do, dumping the responsibility of telling Mark on Abbie?

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 11:57 am
  26. wynter Says:

    Lesson learned people, this is what happens when you decide to, as a grown ass adult, react violently. And it *is* a decision. Mark is violent, and waited till he had no choice to do better and honestly that his friends have stood by him says more about who they are than him, but no one else is required to give him another chance. Everyone gets angry, but somehow so many of us can manage to be angry without getting physical, its not an acceptable reaction for anyone not a literal toddler.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 12:23 pm
  27. Wait…Katie is uncomfortable running for Mark now because of one incident? That suggests one of two things: Either Katie has some history that we don’t know about regarding violent men, or she’s judging Mark way too harshly.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 1:26 pm
  28. badsede Says:

    I think that Katie is wrong on this one. She has every right to choose with whom she will associate, but I don’t think she is right to banish someone. The fact that she is forcing Abbie to be the messenger instead of communicating the message herself – even if by digital means is she truly feels unsafe – undermines her moral high ground.

    As others have said, a single incident does not define a person. A single incident is not a pattern. Mark is not a violent person, Mark had a violent outburst. Mark needs a time out, he needs consequences for his actions. But a one-strike-and-your-out policy is extremely unhealthy. It closes the door on accepting the possibility of rehabilitation, which in turn makes rehabilitation far less likely. If people cannot redeem themselves or their relationships, then why even try? Why try to be better if you suffer the same consequence for being better as you did for your mistake?

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. What happens if your fault is the next one that becomes unforgivable? Maybe no one deserves a second chance, but if we are willing to give them to others, we will be the one ultimately condemned for life for a single action. Maybe no one deserve a second chance, but everyone should at least be allowed the chance to earn one.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 3:27 pm
  29. Thulcandran Says:

    I do feel bad for Mark in this situation! Despite it being of his own making, this still sucks. But this was not “one mistake” or “one misstep.” He HIMSELF said it was a series of decisions.

    It’s a little concerning how many people are down with just inviting someone back to a game group a week (or a few weeks) after they HIT SOMEONE. That’s a big deal. Maybe when you’re between, like, 8 and 17, it’s not such a big thing; kids get into fights because they don’t know how to handle their emotions. But this group is a bunch of adults. A grown-ass man verbally and physically lashing out at his partner and her other partner is not something you just brush aside as “one mistake.” It’s a giant, flashing red flag.

    AND, Katie isn’t even saying Mark should be ostracized! She’s not saying she is going to avoid him! She’s saying she wouldn’t be comfortable having him as a player because she would have hard time getting into a DM headspace with someone who’s shown he can be violent at the table. (I don’t really care for Abbie’s brush-off of “he wouldn’t hurt YOU,” for obvious reasons. There’s no evidence for Katie that that’s true, and it would be more accurate to say “He has a temper problem that he’s working through, but I don’t think he would seriously hurt anyone.” Though that still doesn’t quite solve the problem.)

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 5:03 pm
  30. Scarecrow Says:

    There’s a toxicity to the ‘cancel culture’ that has only recently started to garner attention. There are an incredible number of unforgiving people out there. But everyone always seems to want more mercy than they are willing to give, once the spotlight turns on them (and it does, always. Nobody is as virtuous as they expect everyone else to be – nobody).

    Sure, I can understand Katie having that opinion. I think it’s awfully harsh and unforgiving, but that’s how it goes. But she should have had the integrity to address the issue herself. Instead, she’s putting others in the crosshairs and have to handle the negative consequences that she wants to avoid. That’s pretty uncaring – should she be avoided next? (I’m sure the answer is ‘no’, but the follow up is ‘why not’?)

    She’s forcing friends to make choices based on -her- position. I tend to avoid people like that.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 6:11 pm
  31. Just Someone Says:

    Another thought. Men are not taught to deal with their emotions generally speaking. Sure its mentioned after something comes up. But rarely are men encouraged strongly to go to therapy by society pre-crisis (that is changing a bit, but not to a great extent).

    So with this issue it seems you’re sort of screwed as a man, if you mess up even once at times. You get a labeled violent and that’s that.

    Seems a bit like a catch22. You are fine if you have no emotion or bottle it up(not really). But your not allowed to let it out. And we frown upon you trying to get help before (though after your already broke so it doesn’t matter as much). Eg “tough it out son”, “don’t be a wussy”, etc.

    I’m curious on others experience here, but is that true for all gender groups? And what extremes have you seen it gone too?

    (This comic was certainly made to cause conversation and its succeeded in spades.)

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 7:03 pm
  32. HousePet Says:

    I don’t know Katie… Self isolation from friends and social activities should be a red flag to a school teacher.

    If you want Mark to know that his behaviour made you feel uncomfortable, you shouldn’t make him feel more uncomfortable by not talking to him about it. Have Abbie there for support, but you should be the one to talk to him about how you feel.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 7:28 pm
  33. Just Here Says:

    Wow, the comments section is on fire on this one.

    Speaking as sommeone who’s been in Mark’s situation, he does need to take the time to cool off and reevaluate. When someone snaps like this, there can be underlying issues that need to be addressed or it will happen again. That Mark acknowledges he fucked up and did a wrong thing is a good sign. Avoiding most of his usual social circle, however, is not good for him. Being alone with your thoughts when you’re in that frame of mind is a Bad Thing. Trust me, I know.

    That said, Katie is both right and wrong. She’s within her rights not to allow someone at her table that she’s not comfortable having there. I’m willing to bet she’s got a history with violent men. But making Abbie be the messenger isn’t fair to Abbie because it potentially puts her in the position of choosing between her friends. Not cool.

    Note: Like Mark, I’m usually pretty chill. But I had an ‘incident’ that led me to being suspended from a LARP group I’m part of. In getting my head right, I sought out professional help. My suspension’s been over for a while, but I don’t feel that I’m in the right headspace to go back yet. Like myself, Mark needs to work through his issues before going back.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 7:45 pm
  34. Nep Says:

    Katie is 100% allowed to decide who is at her table and her concern about Mark is not wrong. Sure, he’s working on it and getting better, but that doesn’t mean anyone owes him the opportunity to be violent again.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 7:50 pm
  35. Andy Says:

    If there’s one thing that really bothers me about this strip, it’s not that Katie doesn’t want Mark there or that she asked Abbie to pass on her message. Whether she has history with violent men or not, she’s well within her rights to be uncomfortable with Mark after what happened and to not want to be around him. If he really is violent, it makes a lot of sense that she doesn’t want to tell him herself, because she doesn’t want to risk him hurting her.

    What does bother me is that she didn’t set her boundary before everyone came over. Maybe if Mark had been planning on coming and someone mentioned it, she would have said something. But that didn’t happen, so we don’t know. Maybe she thought that if Mark wasn’t welcome, some of his friends would not have wanted to be there as well and she didn’t want to risk that. Whatever her reasons, this should’ve come up before the game session. I can easily see his friends getting defensive and the session deteriorating.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 8:47 pm
  36. Song Says:

    What a panel, Alina, and what an arc to have the comments section have such a thought-provoking discussion! I think it’s absolutely fantastic and really shows your skill as a writer to have characters with such varying reasoning and perspectives. 🙂

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 9:34 pm
  37. AJ Says:

    As others have said she is fully on point with deciding who sits at her table for games. However that said when you pick up the screen you gain the power to decide that, with that power comes the responsibility to handle these situations. As in tell the players who are or aren’t welcome Yourself, not force someone in the middle to act as a shield for you.

    Maybe she has had a bad experience with someone being violent and is worried Mark will become violent if told this. How is throwing another person into that risk especially a friend even semi reasonable?

    Especially in a world where off the top of my head this could be communicated through, email, text, phone call, pm on social media. If worried about a later backlash how does putting Abbie in the middle do anything other then give you a scapegoat later?

    I want to believe Katie is a better person then this, that she wouldn’t intentionally set someone up to be thrown to the wolves because of her own fears.

    However with this one conversation she’s shown that she wants to dm without taking the responsibility for telling people who can and can’t be there and will pawn that off on their friends. Which does not speak well of her character.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 9:59 pm
  38. WhitehawkOmega Says:

    It may feel unfair for how the situation is falling into place, how Mark may have alienated some of his acquaintances, how Katie is putting the burden of communication on Abbie, but having seen these kind of situations unfold in my social group, I can say it’s very realistic. Everyone’s feelings are valid over what happened, and it may suck, but life doesn’t always work out smoothly, sometimes situations resolve less than ideally.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 10:52 pm
  39. Wayward Says:

    I have been on both sides of this issue.

    Katie is absolutely right. It is up to Mark to deal with the consequences of his actions, and if he deals with them properly – through self-awareness and hard work and *becoming a better person* – he will eventually understand that Katie is right, too.

    Posted March 16th, 2020 at 11:59 pm
  40. Steven Clark Says:

    I have to agree with @Song, and give props to Alina for this story arc and strip (and many, many others). It is a great strip, that brings out strong feelings and delivers great commentary and community involvement.

    Better yet, I am even happier for Alina’s talent, both as an Artist and Story Writer (and her bf in that department?) to be able to tell such a compelling and engaging story line, that resonates with so many, without actually telling us her own views and where she stands on the matter. That is GREAT storytelling. A writer who can provide you with a great moral storyline or quandary and debate but without telling you where they stand or what they believe. That sets it apart from a lot of modern media that tries to ram it’s message and belief down your throat and tell you what to think or feel about a situation.

    So I say, Bravo Alina for some truly talented tale crafting 🙂

    Posted March 17th, 2020 at 12:59 am
  41. Will Says:

    OK this strip just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth and for a couple different reasons.

    The Good: It’s time for the hammer to drop. Mark’s incident is not something that should just be written off, I would have fully expected that even if Mark had not voluntarily taken a break from gaming to work on himself, many people he has been in games with would eventually make it known they just can’t feel comfortable around him. This fallout is to be expected, and seeing how Mark deals with it and moves on from it will be important for his further character development.

    The Bad: Wait what? “Violent Men”? This dialogue just feels out of place for a coupe reasons. Firstly there’s the very pointed subject, not “violent people”, not “a person who can’t control themselves”, just “violent men”. This feels like an unfair accusation at an entire gender, especially right after we had a few strips commenting on the nature of stereotyping in RPG’s. Secondly, and this is what is really upsetting to me. Katie is not a stranger to the group, she has been shown too frequently with them having fun, and when things first started between Mark and Ravenia she was shown actively watching (as opposed to passively seeing things from the sidelines, the panel even spared a moment to show what she was thinking). The fact that she’s turning her back on him despite the fact she apparently has a relationship beyond just occasional run ins does not feel right. And third, as many people have pointed out, this is Mark. Mark who has consistently been nothing but good natured and helpful throughout all the games and sessions we’ve witnessed. We have seen no situations where people have appeared guarded or nervous while he’s around in the past.

    I’ve seen Katie as a sensible down to earth person and something of a group mother in the past, so this just feels out of character to me.

    Posted March 17th, 2020 at 3:53 am
  42. Ducky Says:

    I guess I’m in the minority with this, but to me it feels much kinder of Katie to let Mark know via a friend that she wouldn’t be comfortable with him at her table. Certainly kinder than a PM saying “You’re cordially uninvited from any games I might run in the future”.

    This would be a different situation if Katie were a regular GM for Mark. In that case, yeah, a personal talk via whatever medium would be in order. But this was a spontaneous get-together. Yes, it puts Abbie in an uncomfortable spot but nobody wants a situation where Mark wants to sit down to play and Katie has to either ignore her boundaries or put an unpleasant spotlight on him. Much better to give Abbie the opportunity to quietly tell him “Dude, no, here’s why.”

    Posted March 17th, 2020 at 4:02 am
  43. Sable Says:

    Lot of folks saying Mark isn’t violent. But he was. He has the capacity.

    Katie clearly has a history that perhaps only Abby is aware of. If she feels threatened by Mark to that extent, why would she confront him? If, as his defenders insist, the violent action was a rare explosion of emotion, how can Katie be sure he won’t explode at her?

    Mark isn’t the worst person to exist in the ttrpg hobby, for one thing he has a conscience about the incident. But it’s deeply troubling seeing how many of us witnessed Mark being violent and are prepared to blame Katie for calling him violent and not wanting to spend more time with him.

    We all saw it! We know he was violent. This is why women are uncomfortable, too often, coming into ttrpg spaces.

    And before anyone repeats that enabler’s mantra “it was out of character for Mark”, it clearly wasn’t. As angry as I’ve been in my adult life I have never grabbed someone who was walking away or pushed someone to the floor in rage. Physical assault is not an option for me but it is clearly an option for Mark.

    He’s getting therapy to calm down, but that violence will always be within him the next time he isn’t calm. And Katie can’t take that risk. Good for her.

    Posted March 17th, 2020 at 4:26 am
  44. Nederbörd Says:

    I’m honestly (and pleasantly) surprised how realistically this was portrayed. I think Alina has done a great job portraying not only the events that led up to Mark’s outburst, but also the repercussions that came afterwards. It’s also interesting to see this dynamic from this perspective, where you see his closest friends still being by his side, but people a bit less close starting to distance themselves.

    As somebody who’s had A LOT of violent outbursts as a kid, who had to spend a lot of time and effort just learning to rein it in and control myself, and who sometimes still gets the urge to just let it all go, I can empathize with Mark to a degree. The situation he is in is one of my biggest nightmare scenarios. That being said, I can’t but say that he brought this on himself.

    When you are an adult, and especially when you’re physically stronger than everybody else in your group, you have a responsibility to control yourself. That responsibility is yours and yours alone. It’s your responsibility to learn how to deal with your own issues in a way that won’t eventually lead to a violent outburst. You have to actually take time to think and reflect on your own situation, your own thoughts, your feelings, and learn to handle whatever urges or impulses you may have. Because when you’re that much stronger, one slip will make you fuck everything up, and likely even hurt people you care about.

    It’s massively unfair to be thrown out for one mistake, but it is how it is. I’ve seen this happen IRL a few times, and there’s always people afterwards who will forgive, and people who can’t trust your afterwards and therefore avoid you. Because for some, the risk of having it happen again (and perhaps to them) weighs far heavier than wanting to forgive their friend and give them the benefit of the doubt.

    In a small town, among a group of male friends who’re habitual drinkers, and where violence is uncommon and frowned upon but (somewhat) tolerated and still happens sometimes, you’ll at most get a serious talk from some of your other male friends, you get to apologize and maybe promise it won’t happen again. If it happens more times, they might actually cut you off, but if you’re good friends enough AND they feel they can handle you, you’ll just be going through the motions of serious talks ad infinitum. Provided it doesn’t happen TOO often to start seriously bothering them. Coming from this background, I’ve seen this happen enough times to know it’s pretty much standard.

    In a social circle where violence is NOT accepted, however, whether that be women or LGBTQ or even just scawny nerdy guys or whatever, the consequences of a violent outburst are that much greater. These, such as the one I interact with a lot nowadays, are usually communities where people take pains to avoid people that seem violent or otherwise aggressive. To suddenly have a strong man punch somebody in the face is enough of a taboo for many of them to avoid you from that point on, if not cut ties with you right away. Maybe they’ve been on the receiving end of something like that before, or maybe they know enough people that have (most know at least one). And even if not, most know that if they’d ever find themselves in that situation, their own (relative) weakness would essentially leave them completely defenceless. Of course they’d be afraid, I mean, if it happened once, what’s to say it won’t happen again? What’s to say THEY won’t be on the receiving end that next time? So why even risk it in the first place?
    That fear is very palpable.

    It makes perfect sense that Katie would want to keep her distance from Mark. After all, he’s shown himself to be a person of poor judgement: getting himself into stuff he’s not ready for (i.e. a poly relationship), avoiding to deal with his own internal issues, and then violently lashing out when it all comes to a head. She got to observe this whole series of events unfold to a disappointing conclusion. Of course she’d want to keep her distance from him now. At least until she’s seen that he’s actually managed to sort his shit out somewhat.

    And it really is up to Mark to rebuild whatever bridges he’s burnt, inadvertently or not, as a result of this. It’s going to take him a lot of time and effort to prove to people outside of his closest circle that he can be trusted again. I don’t think Katie is going to deny him the opportunity to apologize, but it’s going to be quite some time until she’s comfortable doing things together with him again or even just having him around.

    Putting it on Abbie to tell him though… that’s quite unfair. Because she’s the least comfortable talking about/dealing with these things. Not to mention that if Katie is worried Mark might lash out again if she tells him, wouldn’t that logically just put Abbie in the crosshairs instead? Not cool. But still, when people feel it hard to deal with somebody they don’t know well enough, they go through a common friend who knows them better. It happens all the time. And as such, it’s quite a realistic depiction IMO.

    Posted March 17th, 2020 at 9:26 am
  45. FirePrincessLily Says:

    People sure are taking issue with Katie’s stance without knowing her history. Maybe there’s a reason she feels uncomfortable around violent men. And even if Mark isn’t normally violent, what she saw could have brought something up that she’s been through and that’s all she needs.

    Also the reason she’s having Abbie, or one of the other main cast (if she assumes Abbie will relegate it to someone else), probably is because she doesn’t know what to expect from him, or how he’ll react. She doesn’t want to put herself in a situation where she could be harmed.

    Posted March 17th, 2020 at 9:36 am
  46. DreadGazebo Says:

    This is a fascinating conversation! Just my personal opinion, but I think it’s important to remember here that Katie does not have the readers’ quasi-omniscient perspective. She isn’t in Mark’s head or his therapy sessions. She can only judge him by his actions. And his recent actions have revealed that he is currently a violent, profoundly immature, and frankly abusive man.

    Do I think he is doomed to remain that way forever? Absolutely not, and it’s great that he’s getting (clearly much-needed) professional help. But it was his responsibility as an adult man not to assault someone, he failed in that responsibility, and he is suffering the predictable consequences. It is NOT Katie’s responsibility to absolve him. It is her responsibility to ensure the safety and comfort of the group she leads.

    For what it’s worth, I have been DMing for over a decade and have seen pretty much every type of gamer at my tables. What Mark did would earn him a lifetime ban from me. Seems harsh? Well, if I let a guy like that into a group I am supposed to be leading and he assaults someone again, then that would be on me as much as him. I would have failed the people who trusted me. Personal responsibility is a thing, and so is responsibility toward your community. It sucks sometimes. Deal with it.

    Posted March 17th, 2020 at 11:04 am
  47. Fnord Says:

    I was recently in a situation where I was at someone’s house and another person there made racist and antisemitic comments. This made me uncomfortable because the guy is 6’5″. I was anxious the rest of the day. And I came to the conclusion that unless I wanted to be at the mercy of others constantly then the only proper response was to make myself strong enough and capable enough that I wouldn’t be afraid next time. Anything else is cowardly. And using a friend as a go between when there are a dozen other ways to communicate without speaking in person is an act of cruelty and cowardice.

    Posted March 17th, 2020 at 2:09 pm
  48. MrsFizzes Says:

    Katie, highly uncool. I can understand not feeling safe and not wanting to tell the person who might be making you feel unsafe, but don’t guilt Abby into telling Mark. She should have asked Abby if she was okay passing that along to Mark, not just… plopped it in Abby’s lap and made it her job. I hope Abby stands up for herself and tells Katie no, and that there are things in the world like email and text messages that can help her convey how she feels without potentially putting the messenger in harm’s way.

    Not that I think Mark would hurt Abby or Katie (he had a breakdown, I’ve had a couple, and while I wasn’t violent to anyone, I still sympathize with Mark a lot), but if Katie doesn’t want to tell Mark personally because she’s worried he’d become violent, that’s pretty crappy of her to pressure Abby to do it for her.

    Abby, tell her no! That shouldn’t be your job!

    Posted March 17th, 2020 at 2:21 pm
  49. Rodney J Whited Jr Says:

    Asking Abbie to tell mark is cowardice and wrong. Don’t want someone around but don’t want to put yourself in danger? call. Text. Email. Don’t make one of his remaining friends hurt him. pretty sure his response would be, “I understand” or at worst something guilt inducing like “I thought we were friends.” or angry like “I didn’t want to play with you anyway” there’s not a lot of violence you can do over a phone.

    Posted March 17th, 2020 at 2:23 pm
  50. Just Someone Says:

    I am curious why should wouldn’t go to a “you need to phone it in to my games for the foreseeable future”. Considering our current environment that seems prudent IRL as well.

    Posted March 17th, 2020 at 3:05 pm
  51. Zorglubis Says:

    There is a difference, and a big one, between having an episodic violence outburst and having a violent personality, as much a difference as there is between experiencing an episode of depression and having a major depressive disorder.

    She has the right not to want him at the table anymore, and she can not deny what she genuinely feels, but that does not make her right in her psychological diagnostic.

    That’s the purview and the competence of Mark’s therapist.

    Posted March 17th, 2020 at 7:20 pm
  52. Fabfunk von Cronenberg Says:

    Like someone else said, I wonder if Katie is projecting because she had a relationship or encounter with a “violent man”. That being said, while she’s within her rights to refuse to have Mark at the table, he hasn’t shown any other violent tendencies. If he’s truly their friend then he should get a second chance. (after taking some time out and seeing his therapist, of course)

    You don’t kick a friend when they’re down. And if someone else has a really bad day, is Katie going to turn them away as well? If Abbie has a bad day and throws something at the wall, does that make her a violent person who should be ostracized? Is it purely because Mark is a guy, or would Katie feel this way about anyone?

    Mark’s trying to do the right thing, seek therapy and make amends. Someone who was truly a “violent person” wouldn’t be seeking to better themselves.

    Posted March 17th, 2020 at 10:48 pm
  53. Ian Says:

    This really hurts because Katie’s not wrong to prefer to have someone she’s uncomfortable with away from her table, but we as the audience know that she’s wrong about Mark. She obviously can’t know that, but it leaves us questioning “well how could Mark ever prove himself again, how can he ever be redeemed for this?”

    A complex story that I am sure will be dealt with in future episodes of this strip.

    Posted March 18th, 2020 at 12:58 am
  54. Frank Bromley Says:

    I still think him getting banned from changling was a bit exstreme as another person said one incedent isnt a pattern

    Suspended yea fine he needed time away to get his head right but banned seems a bit much esp cause it came out he had some issues

    Posted March 18th, 2020 at 6:58 am
  55. TheDarkTyger Says:

    I could understand this more if it was a pattern of behavior. But the violent outburst seemed very outside Mark’s norm. I can understand wanting some space for a while, but she sounds pretty hard-line cutting him off here even while he is actively seeking help to deal with the cause of the outburst.

    I get some caution, but I think she’s taking it to a degree that’s unfair.

    Posted March 18th, 2020 at 8:19 am
  56. Ashley B Says:

    After reading through the comments here is my take on this strip:

    1) Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Some lean towards personal experience (either as the perpetrator or the victim), others as the outside eye seeing the whole thing. Each opinion is valid, and I see good points on each side.

    2) My opinion: wrongs are on all sides here.
    Katie – she might have had some bad experience with a violent man. Maybe she had an abusive boyfriend, maybe her father was violent, maybe it was an uncle, or some other masculine figure in her life. The LARP incident seems to have stirred these memories and emotions, causing her to feel how vulnerable or threatened she was then, and is hitting a knee jerk reaction to not want to feel that way again. She feels that keeping Mark (who she is scared could lash out again) away from her will keep those fears from coming back. She may also have developed a “Mother” feeling so she doesn’t want anyone at her table to feel those either.

    It’s valid for her. I get that. BUT, yes, half of her table are close friends with Mark, and, as such, have seen him going through the aftermath of his mistake. His regrets, his fears of being exiled from playing with other people anymore, he want to be better. Katie has probably not been made privy to how his therapy has been going. Mark may not feel ready to be open about it to anyone but his closest friends.

    Do I think she’s over reacting? yes and no. She should at least tell Mark in her OWN words (whether it be by phone, text, email or in person with someone there to allow her to feel safe) what his actions did to her and how she feels about him. She owes him that much.

    Abby – Abby she NOT agree to Katie placing that responsibility on her. Abby needs to let Katie know how uncomfortable it was for her to even talk about things with Mark when she and the others were essentially putting him on suicide watch. She needs to tell Katie that having to be the messenger will likely make her feel just as uncomfortable and it isn’t fair to her. It won’t invalidate Katie’s feelings, in fact, I’m sure Abby is empathetic enough to know that Katie is feeling unsafe.

    But, she needs to make sure Katie knows that KATIE needs to be the one to speak, in whatever form she chooses. NOT through a middle-man mouthpiece.

    That aside, I kind of want to see Sarah’s and Joel’s reaction to this conversation. They both are the parents of that circle of friends, and may be able to provide Katie with a more mature outlook.

    Posted March 18th, 2020 at 1:44 pm
  57. Annalog Says:

    This one is… A really heavy issue and I’m glad that most of the people are at least trying to take a balanced stance on the issue but I think a lot of people are still taking mark’s side and I just want to be a voice for Katie. Yes, this is could be rough on Mark when he’s already going through some issues but we don’t know Katie’s side of this. There’s a good chance shes had bad experiences with, as she specifically puts it, “violent men” and that could be linked to some kind of trauma. Even if it isn’t linked to some kind of major event trauma is still trauma and it affects the way we see the world and handle things. D&D and other games are about having fun and an important part of having fun is feeling safe. This means having boundaries for what you can handle in and out of the game. I love my brother to death but when he got unnecessarily violent in-game with another player and repeatedly got mad at the whole table it eventually got to the point where we were all uncomfortable and not having fun. He ended up getting frustrated and leaving before it got to the point where we made him leave but still I think Katie is entirely in the right to not want to play with Mark for a while or even ever again because of what he did. I don’t think I would want to play with him either after what happened.

    Posted March 18th, 2020 at 3:26 pm
  58. Angel Says:

    Wait WHAT?

    While I understand there might be personal history in regards to her issues with Violent men spawning this, the way she said it is both Not Fair to Abby nor Mark. You’re essentially forcing Abby to say something that is an Ugly truth and then suggesting it a way that I’m interpreting as “You need to prove yourself before I can associate with you again.” which is Not Cool. This should be discussed, if not privately with Mark, then DIRECTLY. None of this “Relayman” nonsense

    Anyway that’s my opinion on the matter. This whole thing feels massively unfair to Mark. I don’t like it. :<

    Posted March 18th, 2020 at 8:14 pm
  59. HousePet Says:

    Meanwhile, Mark is with Darren at the Yoga class, epically failing the Tree Pose.

    Posted March 18th, 2020 at 8:15 pm
  60. Ferret Says:

    So here’s the thing. Mark is trying to get better, and that’s good. Katie doesn’t feel comfortable around him anymore. Maybe that’s because she doesn’t know he’s trying to get better, maybe she does but she’s heard that line before, maybe she does and absolutely believes him, wishes him the best and hopes to one day feel comfortable around him again, but she doesn’t now because the human brain is the biggest asshole on the planet and feelings are illogical.

    We’ve all come to an agreement on that. We all also seem to agree that Abby shouldn’t be forced to be the messenger in this situation. But what I can’t agree with is the notion that Katie owes Mark to tell him herself. Would it be better coming from her? Absolutely. Does she have to if she doesn’t feel safe or comfortable doing so? Absolutely not. If Abby can’t be her messenger, then ask Joel to do it, or Dustin (maybe not Sarah there’s drama there). And if none of them can, then it’s her call to just not invite Mark to her games. That’s her prerogative. Does it suck, sure, but so does making yourself stressed out out of a false sense of obligation. Katie doesn’t owe Mark anything in this situation.

    Posted March 18th, 2020 at 9:54 pm
  61. Mystic Snowfang Says:

    As a person on the spectrum who’s had outbursts in public, more than once. People who rejected me over that really hurt. I’m DFAB, and a demigirl and the fact that Katie is willing to push Mark away over a single meltdown (because that WAS a meltdown, I’ve had them many times and can recognize one instantly) is rather cruel, labeling him as a “violent male”. That indicates that if it were someone female-presenting who took the exact same actions would be forgiven quickly. And his outburst was mild, my public ones often ended with me bearing scratches, bite marks and other contusions because of me self harming with tooth claw and fist in public. But because I have tits and was born with a stupid uturs and a vagina I’m forgiven.

    I’m someone who’s been abused and threatened by female-presenting people of both cis and trans natures, and I still don’t judge “violent women” or avoid them. I mean Luckily I’ve never been closely related, but I have been in friendships or passing knowledge of such people, and subject to emotional, physical and even sexual unwanted interactions.

    There is an underlying sexism in Katie’s perspective, one that I’ve run into over and over again. Men who let their emotions get out of control are “violent and abusive” but it’s “okay” for a woman to do such. Well it’s not.

    Posted March 20th, 2020 at 5:21 pm
  62. TwistedAngel Says:

    Not. Cool.

    If it were, say, Abby who had a breakdown and Joel who was uncomfortable enough to ban her from the games he was running, I suspect that this wouldn’t be tolerated. He would likely be called an insensitive jerk and overly dramatic, at a bare minimum.

    The fact that it is acceptable when physical attributes are swapped smacks of a double-standard that I personally have no tolerance whatsoever for in the real world and I am frankly shocked that Abby backed down so quickly and that his other friends have nothing to say about it.

    Posted March 22nd, 2020 at 12:30 pm
  63. TwistedAngel Says:

    This. My other comment didn’t post, apparently, but the bottom line is, if the gender roles were reversed, if Abby was the one who had a meltdown and Joel was banning her from the table for it, I doubt it would be tolerated. This sort of double standard is NOT COOL and not something I am willing to put up with in real life. I am surprised Mark’s friends have nothing to say about this and that Abby backed down so quickly.

    The reactions of the cast are very real and true to life, and fact that I am agitated about this proves the writing is excellent.

    Posted March 23rd, 2020 at 10:56 pm
  64. akemi Says:

    I’m torn about this. I’m not saying that what Mark did was right, but I think we’re all forgetting the fact that Damien initiated physical contact with Mark and Mark shoved him off.
    In b4 “Mark grabbed Ravina” Yes. Yes he did and that was wrong. But the point I’m making is that when this was happening Mark had hit rock bottom, was in a fight or flight mentality and Damien stepped up and put hands on him What Mark did was almost certainly a reflex
    honestly. the whole ” one mistake and you are an evil man” perspective that katie is taking seems worse than what Mark did, because Mark maked a mistake, admits he made a mistake and even now is taking steps to fix it while Katie is making the conscious decision to oust Mark without regard to the fact that what she’s doing is completly uncalled for

    Posted March 24th, 2020 at 7:55 pm