Knights of the Dinner Table, one of my favorite comics, follows the adventures of a tabletop gaming group who play HackMaster, a fictional RPG based on Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Much of its humor is character-based; readers looking for a lot of action will be disappointed. The KoDT books shine, however, in this aspect; anyone who has ever sat down with a group of friends and played a tabletop game will recognize the character archetypes and the dynamic at work.
That is to say, the group has its share of players who look at HackMaster as an excuse to constantly beat the crap out of NPCs and monsters – and once, in true tabletop tradition, a gazebo. As always, the group has one member who insists upon trying to convince the group to role play first in any given situation. In KoDT’s case, this character is also the token girl in the group. There’s the Game Master, or GM, of course. Last but not least we have the rules lawyer, who functions as a sort of encyclopedia of obscure ways to circumvent anything the GM wants to do.
The fun of KoDT is not in the art – which features frequent repetition of the same images with changing dialogue – but in the writing. I find myself laughing hysterically every time B.A., the group’s GM, finds all his careful preparation and planning ruined by the group’s insistence on killing every Non-Player Character, or NPC, before it even has a chance to speak.
KoDT is a wonderfully entertaining series, when you first pick it up. I managed to devour the first 30 or so issues almost without coming up for air, and I still, three months later, find myself chuckling at some of the jokes when I think of them. It’s very well-written; the archetyping is flawless.
The only complaint I had about the series is that, after those first 30 issues or so, I got kind of bored with it. The novelty wore off and it was hard to keep myself reading for much the same reason that it gets harder and harder to make myself care what’s happening on Smallville each week: every subsequent issue just seems to be more of the same. Much in the same way that Clark still hasn’t figured out how to fly after seven freaking years, the Knights never seem to grow or change.
Still, those readers who are fans of webcomics like DM of the Rings or Order of the Stick should enjoy Knights of the Dinner Table just as much. Issues of KoDT are available from Kenzer & Company.