Dungeons & Dragons is a hobby that has struggled to break into other forms of media for years outside of video games, and that includes comic books. There were officials J&D comics published over the years, but none of them match the genius of two talking comics J&D in different ways. Knights of the dinner table is a long-running comic that leans into the tabletop RPG fandom, while Order of the Staff is a free webcomic that shows a world where the rules of J&D to apply.
The current edition of J&D has become incredibly popular around the world. The game’s current ruleset might be the best for introducing new players to J&D (say goodbye to THAC0, J&Dthe stupidest rule of), which makes it easier to deploy a character and start playing. The internet has also made it easier to find new bands, either by playing online (as many people have done during the pandemic) or by forming bands that meet at local game stores in their hometown. The next J&D movie will also bring eyes to the game, just like the final version of Baldur’s Gate 3.
There are tons of fantasy comics out there, as well as plenty of slice-of-life comics that show people going about their daily lives. Knights of the dinner table captures the slice-of-life aspect of J&D (or rather, Hackmasterwho’s what they’re playing in the comics) and how it affects players and their dice rolls in tabletop RPGs, while Order of the Staff shows what a fantastic world that lives by J&D the rules would look like. Lots of new people are playing J&D and while both Knights of the dinner table and Order of the Staff are inspired by older editions of the game, their storylines and character moments will be familiar to anyone who has picked up the dice.
The Knights of the Dinner Table and Tabletop RPG Gamer Culture
Knights of the dinner table debuted in the pages of a magazine titled Shadis in 1990, when Advanced Dungeons and Dragons was the current edition of the game. Creator JR Blackburn created the strip to fill an empty page in Shadis and it quickly became the most popular part of the comic. After a passage in Dragon magazine, Knights of the dinner table became his own comic book series, which is still running to this day. The series follows the titular Knights of the Dinner Table, who are a group of tabletop role-players who were fans of Hackmastera game inspired by TO ADD but it was much bloodier. Hackmaster was actually going to become its own game, which used elements from the first and second editions of J&Das an official J&D had changed to 3rd at this point.
Knights of the dinner table is set in Muncie, Indiana, and while it primarily follows the Knights, there are other groups in the area that sometimes take the limelight, such as the Black Hands, who stand out for their extreme fights that end most campaigns. The Hackmaster players take their game seriously, to a sometimes disturbing degree, with fights breaking out between the various groups, leading to physical altercations and multi-dimensional wars that are told through huge story arcs. Hackmaster has its own rules and codes of conduct and tabletop RPG etiquette in and out of the game, feeling almost more like a syndicate than a gaming fandom. However, readers only ever see human players and are free to imagine conflicts unfolding, as they would in a real tabletop RPG.
The Knights have had a few roster changes over the years, but key players include BA Felton, the DM who constantly tries to keep his campaigns from being destroyed by players; Bob Herzog, the player who could be most obsessed with Hackmaster and causing chaos whenever he can; Dave Bozwell, the player who never bothers to learn the rules and just shows up to hit things with a stick; Sara Felton, the band’s consummate role player, who is often drawn into whatever ridiculous scheme the band next embarks on; and Brian Vanhoose, the ultimate J&D-stats and rules style lawyer, who has memorized every line of the rulebooks and every bit of errata, and is always ready to correct the DM in order to gain an advantage. Together, this group has survived in epic campaigns told through decades of comics, while growing and developing as people in their real lives outside of Hackmaster.
What is interesting Knights of the dinner table is that it’s had the same storyline going on since the 90s, with players (and the game) growing over time. In his heart, Knights of the dinner table is a comedy series, where nerds enjoy their hobbies in an extreme way, while remaining faithful to their companions and the game of Hackmaster. J&D has exploded in popularity over the past few years and more people than ever are experimenting with their own games and creating their own stories, with misadventures, betrayals and heroic deeds occurring in every game. This is the story of Knights of the dinner tableas it’s a celebration of tabletop RPG fan dedication, while not being afraid to poke fun at some of the more humorous elements that happen when a group sits around a table and let everyone take out their custom J&D dice bags. Digital and physical copies of each issue of Knights of the dinner table can be purchased from the Kenzer & Company website.
Order Of The Stick & The World Who Knows It’s Basically D&D
Order of the Staff is a free webcomic created by Rich Burlew that was launched in 2003, in the 3.5 era of J&D. Whereas Knights of the dinner table is a series about role-players, Order of the Staff follows the actual characters in a J&D world, who must abide by the strange laws that govern their reality. Starting as a gag a week-long comic about a group of adventurers in a J&D country, Order of the Staff quickly blossomed into its own story, as the group of adventurers suddenly find themselves embroiled in a conflict to save their world from a cosmic horror known as Snarl, who seeks to erase their reality from existence.
The composition of the Order of the Staff is Roy Greenhilt, a human fighter who acts as the leader of the group and is the perfect straight man for their antics; Durkon Thunder Shield; a dwarven cleric who started as a bland healer, before having one of the best character arcs in the series; Vaarsuvius, an elven wizard known for being incredibly verbose; Haley Starshine, the human thief who would steal anything not nailed down, Elan, a human bard who is aware of all J&D tropes about the story, but is determined to have fun along the way; and Belkar Bitterleaf, the evil halfling ranger who joins the Order as a convenient way to be licensed to kill and wreak havoc. The J&D-style wicked villains in Order of the Staff are Xykon, a homicidal lich who wants to use the power of the Snarl to bring the world to heel, and Redcloak, a goblin cleric whose plan for the Snarl is to use the threat of his power to give the goblins a better standing in the world. .
The most striking thing about Order of the Staff is his work of art, as the entire comic is told via stick figure drawings, albeit well done. This artistic choice may be off-putting to some, but new readers should stick with it, even if they’re not the biggest fans of art, because the strength of Order of the Staff lies in its characters, dialogue, and story. There’s also a major art update that happens 3/4 of the way through the story. Once the reader gets used to the unusual art style, they will find one of the best webcomics available on the internet. Order of the Staff maybe a J&D-comic-themed and make a lot of jokes about the rules of the game, but it comes across as a fantasy fantasy. The fact that it is free to read online at Giant in the playground means there is no reason not to check. There is a prequel Order of Staffs books that can be bought, but they are all worth the price of admission and add a lot to the world. fans of Dungeons & Dragons have to check Order of the Staff and see what the world looks like inside the rulers.
Source: Kenzer & Company, Giant in the PlayGround
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