Webcomic: Full Frontal Nerdity
Full Frontal Nerdity
is a weekly webcomic by Aaron Williams (also the creator of Nodwick
). It focuses on the roleplaying sessions of four tabletop gaming friends, all of them typical nerds in bad need of a life. The characters are:
- Frank, the Game Master. Overweight and socially awkward.
- Lewis, gamer. Chronically unlucky and often dog-piled by the other players.
- Nelson, gamer. Rules Lawyer and power gamer.
- Shawn, gamer. Participates in the games via webcam from Alaska, often abusing disconnects.
- Emma (full name Empusa Resipunus), demon. Introduced about a decade into the strip, only participates in the games tangentially, and enjoys Earth food (especially junk food) just a little too much.
Apart from tabletop gaming, the comic references various staples of the geek subculture, from collectible card games to SF series.
Contains examples of:
- Acid Reflux Nightmare: With An Aesop firmly refused.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
: "Due to rampant thefts, field destruction, zombie cattle, poisoned wells, attempted murder, and a relatively mundane aphid problem,
your town can expect to suffer fifty percent population loss."
- Attack Backfire: In the Halloween 2014 arc, a demon tried eating Lewis's soul, only to discover that he has such a large "soul debt" due to his contract with Emma that Lewis ended up sucking souls out of the demon!
- Bad Ass Santa / An Ass-Kicking Christmas: Check it out.
- Much later on, they play a game where Shawn, Lewis, and Nelson are different would-be Santas with unique powers and paradigms competing to see who wins and determines the course of Christmas. The winner ended up being Shawn, playing a Heavy Metal Krampus version of Santa.
- Basement-Dweller: According to Nelson, everyone but him (although Shawn hadn't joined by then).
- Batman Gambit: Frank runs a campaign featuring multiple factions interlocked in a power struggle for the throne, each of whom having their own plot hooks. Nelson and Lewis decide to accept as many plot hooks as they possibly can to maximize their XP and loot, thus ending up playing multiple factions against each other. They end up having to do a lot of political maneuvering, actual role-playing, and careful reading of the campaign notes to accomplish this without being detected and cut off from doing more adventuring... Which turns out to have been Frank's plan all along.
- Bland-Name Product: "Land Of Barysinister", a product with things like Shaolin mech pilots, ridiculously bad combat rules, and extremely clumsy Fantasy Kitchen Sink worldbuilding, is a pretty clear parody of the famously So Bad, It's Good (on a good day, anyway) World Of Synnibarr.
- Boobs-and-Butt Pose: Poked fun at here.
- Brain Bleach: "Must... dump... Clorox... in... ears!"
Shawn: That's worth a universe reboot right there, people.
- Broad Strokes: The first strip to mention a guy named Shawn who moved to Alaska says he's a guy at Lewis's work. Lewis barely knows him and the others have never met him. Two months later he's a former member of the group.
- Butt Monkey: Lewis, to such a degree that he labels himself the God of Anti-Luck.
- Catch Phrase: Most of the comics begin with Frank's bemused and sarcastic "congratulations, you [insert heinous player crime here]" regarding his players' latest butchery of his game.
- Chekhov's Gun: In 2013 Emma mentioned something about a "Disputed covenant cumulative client soul darnation clause" in regards to Lewis' deal with her. It becomes plot-relevant in 2014.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Abounds during the game sessions (see above), but Lewis and Nelson prove that they're willing to take it into reality by over-analyzing WALL•E, tallying up how many little kids they make cry while doing so.
- Comic Book Death: Does not apply to all comic book characters.
- Convenience Store Gift Shopping: Nelson 're-gifts' presents from his office Christmas party (such as a hot cocoa sampler pack) to his fellow gamers.
- Curse: Lewis's cursed die that rolled only 1 soon messed up every number in the world. They broke it by making a D&D edition where rolling 1 is changed from a Critical Failure into a Critical Hit.
- Crazy-Prepared: Nelson plots betrayals three weeks in advance.
- Deadpan Snarker: Nelson.
- Delicious Fruit Pies: Discussed when talking about how X-Men: First Class would subscribe to the 1960's style of comics.
- Later, Emma claims that soul-sucking otherworldly entities actually do drop everything when you throw Hostess Fruit Pies at them. Justified as due to older rituals where something was given in offering in exchange for the entities' departure.
- Despair Event Horizon: Nelson and Lewis' reaction on having heard that Karen Gillan was spotted wandering naked in her hotel in NYC, and they weren't there to see it.
Lewis: It's like... "Hey, they put the wrong address on one of your biggest fantasies and someone else got it instead. Sorry about that."
- Did Not Think This Through: Lampshaded by Shawn during a corpse-retrieval run.
- Discredited Meme: Jokes about Call of Cthulhu's lethality rate need to be allowed to die already.
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: Meet the "verbal meme trigger".
- Dream Sequence: Technically flu- and fever-induced hallucinations, but close enough.
- Duels Decide Everything: Parodied here.
- Embarrassing Tattoo: Lewis, apparently.
Frank:Then I guess someone will be saving up to have a map to Milwaukee's "Safe House" bar lasered off his tattooed butt, huh?
Lewis: We agreed that topic was off limits!
Nelson: For aesthetic reasons alone...
- Enforced Method Acting: Nelson knows when to invoke a trope, oh yes.
- Even Evil Has Standards: One of the gang's game-breaking schemes manages to disgust even the undead monstrosity they (accidentally) created.
"I may be a monster...well, several monsters
, but there's only so much even I can take. You people are animals, and not ones I would care to dine on. Good day!"
- Everyone Hates Mimes: These guys do, anyway.◊
- Everyone Is Single: And every time Lewis manages to avert this, it doesn't last very long... unless he actively lies about himself to the woman in question.
- Then again, given this exchange between him and Nelson, it's surprising he gets that far to begin with.
- Expo Speak Gag: Used to hide the fact that it's a Christmas-themed game.
- The Faceless: Shawn is never seen in person.
- Interestingly, the webcam is sometimes treated as if it were his actual body, and he fulfills most aspects of the Snarky Nonhuman Sidekick. This could have interesting implications, or it could just be authorial silliness.
- It gets to the point where even in situations where he should be seen, he still appears as the webcam, such as at conventions or when everyone creates online avatars that resemble themselves.
- Fandom Heresy: In-Universe: Frank never read Lord of the Rings...
- Fever Dream Episode: See Dream Sequence above.
- Genre Savvy: Nelson, about most of Frank's plot twists.
- The Ghost: Frank's sister is mentioned occasionally. She is probably quite cute to judge from Lewis and Nelson's reaction to the news that she is going bikini shopping.
- Gone Horribly Right: Frank, in an effort to get his players more involved in the "RP" side of RPGs, developed a system where they'd roll to "hit" in conversations. They didn't even make it out of the Inn before he regretted this.
- Groin Attack: Lewis' Deadwood character "lost some... ah, functionality" as the result of a zombie attack.
- Haunted Technology: The radio in "Stephen King: The RPG".
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: When Lewis tries to declare Speaks Fluent Animal the worst superpower, Nelson interjects with how it could be awesome if comics writers took it Up to Eleven (including citing the page image).
- Horrible Camping Trip: Frank's family make him go these and his game inevitably suffers for it.
Frank: Okay, having gotten hopelessly lost, you're forced to spend the night in the forest. When your characters awaken, they discover that they'd been ravaged by dire mosquitoes to the tune of 3D6 worth of blood loss. As the vultures circle and the sun climbs, you begin to suffer heat exhaustion... Due to multiple insect bites and the fact that you had to sleep on the rocky ground, all your feat and skill rolls will be at minus five for the next day and a half.
Lewis: I vote that our D&D game gets a week off after your parents make you go camping.
- I Call It "Vera": Lewis calls one of his character's broadswords Betsy and a lightsaber Lucille.
- Instant Drama, Just Add Tracheotomy: Parodied in one strip as a movie cliche that Aaron Williams hates.
- Jury Duty: Lewis was called up for one. The trial turned out to involve a lawsuit by a game publishing company against his favorite gaming store.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Frank wanted to avoid spoilers for Return of the King, leading Lewis to declare him a heretic for not reading the books.
- Lawful Evil: Lewis, according to Frank and Nelson. After he lost his job, Lewis downloaded the newest D&D supplements from a pirate site, spent his unemployment check getting copies printed up for everyone, then turned in the assistant manager who ran the copies and was hired to replace that person.
- Limited Wardrobe: Unless they make a point of dressing up, the characters are always depicted wearing the same clothes.
- Logic Bomb / Mind Screw: In-Universe, the group gets stuck on pondering whether Dragonborn females would have breasts or not.
Shawn: So... would they be scaly? Wait, why am I asking that?
- Metagame: What the players are playing all the time, much to Frank's frustration.
- The Mole: One of Nelson's characters, carefully planned in advance with a sealed (and notarized!) envelope containing the details of his true allegiance (only opened after killing Lewis's character by ambush).
Frank: Wow. It's notarized.
- Munchkin: Nelson. The Crowning Moment of Munchkinry was when he managed to finagle his way into ruling a fair chunk of the world and even ''appointed his character a god'', complete with prestige class and Alignment Violation Coupons.
- Shawn may be one as well. When the other players question how they can be certain his die rolls will be fair (they rely on him reporting the results, since he plays by webcam) he offers them each a +5 vorpal sword that he randomly rolled as a show of faith.
- Really, all three players are Munchkins. Nelson is just the best one at it.
- My Rule-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: When Shawn rejoins the table, Lewis points out that the by-laws state everyone has to chip in on pizza, regardless of how little they eat. Shawn quickly counters by stating his preferred toppings are pineapple, anchovies, and onions, and encourages them to chow down.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Lewis once played a character called Dark Lord Evisceratrix O'Kittensquisher.
- Never Heard That One Before: In the May 19, 2005 strip, where the boys are at E3:
Lewis: Can I have a T-shirt?
Booth babe: Let me guess: mine?
Lewis: You've done this before!
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Acclaimed fantasy artist Andy DeLaTurzzi (Tony DiTerlizzi).
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: d20 Modern + All Flesh Must Be Eaten + Harpoon = Somali Pirates of the Caribbean.
- No Name Given: The characters are only known by their first names. In fact, at first they didn't even know each other's names and referred to each other by their characters' names.
- Noodle Incident: Not only has there been plenty, but the players keep an entire BOOK of them, including the incident regarding the "sunproof vampire."
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: At least twice, something has been mentioned to happen in Real Life, and a text box on the panel assures us that it's actually happening.
- The author also claims that some of the strips, especially the earlier ones, are based off actual roleplaying sessions with his gaming group.
- Obviously Evil: Lewis crosses this with Stupid Evil when the group decides to play an evil-aligned party
Nelson: Yeah, I love how we have to spend every 10 minutes explaining away your cleverly innocent name of "Dark Lord Evisceratrix O'Kittensquisher" to the town guard ....
- Off the Rails: Sort of the rule of any game we see them playing, rather than the exception.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Seen here.
- Only Sane Man: The characters usually take turns in doing this... Except for Lewis.
- Frank does this most often. Nelson is at a close second.
- Proud to Be a Geek
- Random Number God
- Red Shirt: Discussed here, when they proposed strapping photon torpedoes to their backs, justifying it as a deterrant.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Discussed here.
- Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: Frank's reaction when Lewis uses a stroke of extreme good luck on mending his character's "little friend" rather than ensuring the success of The Plan.
- Rule of Cool: "So it's got nothing to do with seeing a giant space-faring battleship firing all of its guns at once?" "Granted, that's just awesome no matter how your brain works."
- Rules Lawyer: Nelson.
- Ruthless Modern Pirates: "Somali Pirates of the Caribbean"
- Sadistic Choice: Presented to Jamie Hyneman as the setup for Saw XXXIV - either tell kids there's no Santa Claus, or he loses his moustache.
- Said Bookism: Frank goes on a writing forum where half of the users think using "said" is fine, and the other half decry it.
- The Scrappy: Discussed with the trope namer himself.
- Screwed by the Network: Referenced In-Universe as the "J. Michael Straczynski Table".
- Self-Deprecation: Right here. And here.
- Social Semi-Circle
- Shout-Out: Multiple to Phil and Kaja Foglio, Real Life friends of Aaron Williams.
- Squick: Discussed here, with a side-helping of Bile Fascination.
- One of Frank's specialties, for the rare times he gets one over on his players. Such as the idea of mind flayers crossbreeding with lizardfolk (which in truth is pretty gross but not in the way the players think), or during a "rise of the animals" apocalypse game when he demonstrates what's happening with a video of rats climbing up out of toilets.
- Statistically Speaking: Lewis' Charisma stat is usually high. Frank does not allow him to get through social situations through the power of his dice, however.
- Take That: Towards modern-day politics.
Shawn: So I could "win" a conversation without knowing what I'm talking about?
Frank: I got the idea from cable news and most of our elected officials.
- Nelson occasionally delivers them to Western anime fandom, though the other characters are less hostile.
- The Slender Man Mythos: Following a Slender binge, Frank ends up Slendy haunted. Briefly.
- Theme Naming: While playing an Indiana Jones RPG, their archaeologists' names are Arizona Smith, Wisconsin Johnson, and Wyoming Brown.
- Throw the Book at Them: In the Nametags story arc, the DM Frank renders Lewis - who put "Zeus" on his tag - unconscious with a D&D rulebook.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: Referenced when Frank tries to come up with a new Character Class - The Physicsomancer, a character that would apply real-world consequences to a fantasy setting.
- Too Dumb to Live: Lewis tends to fill this role with his characters. Particularly a Paladin with no survival skills wanting to approach the keep through the swamp while having no wilderness skills.
Nelson: I was under a minus four penalty [to hit] because I was laughing my kiester off.
- Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: In the Halloween 2014 arc, they wind up in a house with a demon that tries to eat the souls of everyone present (using a "Now Serving Number X" ticker). Lewis ends up with a 1 and is therefore the first victim but the demon finds out that his preexisting contract with Emma means that he's got compound interest on his soul, meaning that he's "got a soul-debt so big that trying to eat it is like trying to suck a milkshake out of the guts of an industrial vacuum cleaner set to 'Black Hole.'"
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Though Frank was talking about their characters in a game (specifically Sim D20 City), he was pretty spot-on describing the group as "a case study for abusive symbiosis." Shawn prefers the term "frenemies with benefits."
- The Voice: Shawn
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Discussed here, with the couple described as "Arwen marrying Samwise in 'Lord of the Rings'."
- What Did I Do Last Night?: The main characters went to a New Years Eve party at the "Goblin Hole" and look through their pockets to figure out what they did while under the influence of "Klingon War Nog". Frank finds a character sheet for the elf ranger from the D&D movie, Lewis finds a receipt for the Everquest sourcebooks, and Nelson (who hates anime) found Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.
- When Frank's nephew entered a pine-box derby, Frank and Nelson drilled a hole "whose geometry looks straight out of the Necronomicon with a drill bit that may have gone through someone's skull" in the car. They blanked out at the pine-box derby; when they came to, they'd been dumped in a basement to scream themselves unconscious after tearing a hole in reality.
- Xanatos Gambit: Frank started a game with about four major power players in the background, with dangling plot hooks for each so the group could go for any of them without derailing his planned game. They decide to take all the plot hooks, so that no matter what they come out ahead because they've been playing everyone off against everyone else to their own benefit. It turns out to be Frank's own Batman Gambit because he fully planned for them to bite all the plot hooks in hopes of making off with the bait, tricking them into roleplaying and thinking through a campaign they normally would have just fought through.