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December 19, 2022 | Costello

LFG Fan Profile: Thomas Shoffner

With the comic on hiatus until December 26th, we’re interviewing readers about how they got into Looking For Group and what they like about it. We also give them a chance to ask us questions back. Is it blatant fan service? Yes. And no one services their fans like LFG!

Today’s reader showed great initiative, getting in touch within an hour of the call to action going live on the LFG blog.

Meet Thomas

My name is Thomas and I was introduced to LFG when I was either in college or graduate school (which was 10 years ago). I lost track a few years ago and went “Oh wait. What was that comic?” and did a google search to pull it back up. I had missed reading it and enjoy having it pick me up twice a week. Especially since I work as a counselor and run my own business. I may or may not have also utilized personality traits for some of the characters in the comic as inspiration for a few things I do in my Dungeons and Dragon group.

Thomas Shoffner

Our Questions For Thomas

I asked Thomas the following 10 questions.

Costello: What was it about LFG that appealed to you? Was there anything in particular that inspired you to look it up again years later?

Thomas: Honestly, I had just been introduced to World of Warcraft and liked the commonalities between them. I sadly lost interested in WoW, but years later, I got pulled into DnD. Being introduced to DnD (Despite being in my late 20s to early 30s), I began to recall similarities to a comic strip I read (LFG) and began to utilize my GoogleFoo to find it. Thankfully I did and now I follow it weekly.

C: How has LFG influenced your career as a counselor? Good and bad. I can absolutely see someone confiding in you that they’re an orphan and you start sweating because you want to shout “That orphanage attacked me!” Wait, are you a grief counselor? I just assumed…

T: It’s given me a talking point with some of my clients which allowed for a connection. I have been concerned that some were a mimic in how they’ve acted towards me. Thankfully, no one was really an orphanage. Yet.

C: What are some of your favourite moments from LFG?

T: Going to be honest, whenever Richard is turned loose upon the masses. Anytime he has gone full chaos has always made me laugh. Especially his “Oh wait, I forgot to tell you…..” moments.

C: LFG changed a lot over the years. Is there an era (however you define that) that stands out to you more?

T: Honestly, I’ve loved seeing Cale grow from being a naive elf to being someone who has become developed into someone who can take charge. I also really enjoyed the story into Richard’s history/origin.

C: Is there a character you’d like to see return or explored further?

T: What is Sooba’s story?

C: What are some highlights of being an LFG fan? How have you engaged with the community and expressed your fandom?

T: Highlights of being an LFG fan? Meeting others who enjoy the comic, shorts, and etc. There have been times where I’ve made comments or quoted LFG with clients who aren’t orphanages or mimics. I haven’t really had a chance to engage with the community online due to my work schedule.

C: Let’s say you’re reading Looking For Group one day and a friend asks “Ooh, what’s that?” How do you sell them on LFG?

T: “What’s this? Have you ever wanted to read something that is like WoW and DnD got together, had a baby, and that baby went on a rampage to take over the world one dark humor joke at a time? You do? Cool. Lemme show you LFG.” And then sit back and watch them become engrossed.

C: We’ve heard conflicting reports, so set the record straight: Did you or did you not utilized personality traits for some of the characters in the comic as inspiration for a few things you do in your Dungeons and Dragon group?

T: Guilty as charged. I’ve taken aspects of personalities of characters (Mostly Richard, Benny, and Cale) in NPs that I utilize in my campaign. I’ve got a halfing rogue who tends to be very Richard towards a PC that acts as naive as Cale without intending to. It makes it interesting.
The campaign is technically a therapy group utilized to do exposure therapy for fears/anxieties/concerns for many members of the group. I utilize 5e and have several books to pull creatures from for encounters. I’ve also taken time to channel my inner Richard to utilize cursed items that I’ve homebrewed. And my wife has been providing some influences to create encounters that are borderline full blown Richard. It depends because I rather enjoy throwing things at them unexpectedly while they try to save a kingdom.

C: You propose to your significant other, but they insist you plan the wedding, and say it must be LFG themed. What’s your wedding look like?

T: Worst mistake is to ask me to plan LOL. My wife did let me have the Impressive Clergyman Speech from Princess Bride. Honestly, everyone would’ve been required to come in a costume inspired by LFG in some way, foods would be pulled from WoW, DnD, and other things. Honestly, if I knew my mother in law wouldn’t have killed me, I would have made it more nerdy. It was already fae inspired by my wife’s insistence.

C: Is it OK if there are only 9 questions?

T: Perfectly fine with me. Allowed me to pour more into previous answers.

Thomas’ Questions For Us

Reader Michael Ruic on Facebook had a clever suggestion: He asked “will the fan be able to ask questions to be answered as well?” I invited Thomas to ask me any questions he had. Here’s what he came up with:

T: What inspired the creation of LFG?

Just a reminder that I, Ryan Costello, am not Ryan Sohmer, co-creator of Looking For Group. But I know LFG’s origin story well enough to tell it second hand.

In 2006, World Of Warcraft eclipsed any other video game. It’s expansive lore engaged fans on a deep level, and the MMORPG format was still new and interesting.

Sohmer, an avid fan of fantasy fiction, and Lar, his collaborator on Least I Could Do, saw a lot of potential in a story that parodied the world of WoW (yes, the world of World of Warcraft) as a platform for greater fantasy satire.

The core concept explored an elf who can’t accept that his entire ancestry is inherently evil. However, I don’t think either Sohmer or Lar expected the plot to get so epic and at times emotional. That just goes to show how a solid foundation serves as a jumping off point for greater heights.

T: Have you considered pulling ideas, with permission of course, from DnD campaigns of some of the readers?

No, for a lot of reasons.

For one, “with permission” sounds like enough, but it gets murky, quickly. Like, what if an LFG animated series or (and I hesitate to even bring this up) movie comes out and incorporates those ideas, making millions of dollars? Then, would the fan who provided those plots be fine just pointing out their contribution? Would they want a cut?

For another, ideas are, honestly, the easy part. It’s fleshing the ideas out, and the commitment to writing, illustrating, posting, and sharing that’s the real work for a creative project. Really, the hard work is worth it to get to explore these ideas we have.

If a fan has n RPG campaign that they think would make an excellent comic, then I encourage them to look into publishing it themself.

T: How do you come up with the ideas that you do have for the storyline?

Like I mentioned before, the foundation Sohmer and Lar created makes writing in the world of LFG easy. The main cast have clear motivations, distinct story functions, and built-in comedic value. So, when it’s time to write a page, I come up with the idea. Then, I filter that idea through established LFG lore and tropes, like dropping pucks down the Plinko board.

As the idea bounces around, I see which direction makes the sense while also amusing me the most. Obviously, I’m not the only one who needs to enjoy the ideas. But, as the writer and a fan of LFG, I believe writing what I want to read resonates with readers. As a creative professional, at some point you need enough confidence in your creation to put it out there.

Thanks Thomas!

If you would like to participate in a future LFG Fan Profile, send an e-mail to costello[at]laughingdragon[dot]studio with a brief introduction. If you get picked, we’ll go back and forth with a few rounds of questions, which I’ll turn into a blog post.