It’s official. I’m a doctor (gods help us). I graduated on Friday, and I’ll be a fulltime teaching professor in English/Communications this fall. That means I’m entering a writing-focused career at about the same time as ChatGPT (gods help me).

So what do you say we try out a scholarly experiment? I’ll likely have to talk shop about this stuff in a more official capacity, and this seems like a good opportunity to check in with my fellow gamers.

In today’s comic, I used ChatGPT to develop the script. After about 15 minutes of trying to explain what “single-panel comic” meant to the AI, I hit upon the following prompt:

Write a humorous script for the Handbook of Heroes webcomic. It should have a single panel, a caption, and three lines of dialogue about the use of AI in D&D.

On the fifth refresh, the AI produced the following script:

[Panel: We see a group of adventurers gathered around a table covered in character sheets and dice. One of them, a dwarf with a thick beard, is holding up a small, glowing orb.]

Caption: “The party had just stumbled upon a magical AI device that could answer any question they had about their campaign.”

Dwarf: “Alright, AI, tell us: How do we defeat the dragon that’s been terrorizing the countryside?”

AI: “Based on my analysis, your party’s best chance for success is to seduce the dragon and then backstab it when it’s not looking.”

[The rest of the party looks at each other skeptically.]

Elf: “I don’t think that’s how dragons work.”

AI: “I assure you, I have analyzed all available data and this is the optimal strategy.”

[The party looks at the dwarf, who is still holding the orb.]

Dwarf: “I think we need to go back to the old-fashioned way of doing things.”

[The orb suddenly sparks and fizzles out, leaving the party to figure things out on their own.]

It seemed like a pretty solid joke to me. After a bit of editing, the script that I handed off to Laurel looked like this:

TEXT: Be wary of constructs. They are creatures of rudimentary intelligence, but zero wisdom.

PIC: The Heroes are gathered around a table. Cleric is holding a small, glowing orb. 


AI: Based on my analysis, your party’s best chance for success is to seduce the dragon and then backstab it when it’s not looking

Wizard: Dragons do not work like that. 

Thief: Neither does backstabbing.  

AI: I assure you, I have analyzed all available dank memes, and this is the optimal strategy.

The central joke is the same. However, I did have to come up with a snarky “banner text” for the comic. Wizard was already well suited to a discussion of draconic seduction techniques, but I wrote Thief into the scene too, reasoning that I could reference that one time she tried to backstab a dragon. I also punched up the final line, swapping out “data” in favor of “dank memes.” So yes, there was still work to be done going from “I need a comic idea” to a finished script. But that work did not include the central challenge of devising my own gag.

TRPGs are an interesting place to ponder AI. I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but when I’m writing my session notes I steal shamelessly from every piece of pop culture media available. That’s where creative ideas come from in the first place. We pass media through the idiosyncratic sieve of personal experience, then shake new content out the other side. We riff off of all the writers, illustrators, and memes that have come before. And on a certain level ChatGPT is nothing more than another source of inspiration. You still have to work it into the desired shape, even if it provides you with the the raw material.

So bearing these things in mind, what do you say we talk shop about AI in the hobby? I have no intention using ChatGPT to make my content for me, but how do you guys feel about today’s example? Is this a “good” use of AI in creative work? Or are there still fundamental ethical issues with the practice? And if you feel like taking a whack at some philosophy, tell us who the author of today’s comic is. Whatever your thoughts, hit us with your robot ghostwriter hot takes down in the comments!


Mini-Dungeon Tome II by AAW Games » FAQ — KickstarterMINI-DUNGEON TOME II: This sequel to the best-selling Mini-Dungeon Tome by AAW Games is live right freakin’ now on Kickstarter. And the Handbook’s own Claire Stricklin has a fistful of dungeons in the mix! These bad boys are designed to be grab-and-go, easy to run adventures with minimum prep. So what are you waiting for? Get in here and get delving!


EARN BONUS LOOT! Check out the The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. We’ve got a sketch feed full of Laurel’s original concept art. We’ve got early access to comics. There’s physical schwag, personalized art, and a monthly vote to see which class gets featured in the comic next. And perhaps my personal favorite, we’ve been hard at work bringing a thrice monthly NSFW Handbook of Erotic Fantasy comic to the world! So come one come all. Hurry while supplies of hot elf chicks lasts!