Role-playing reviews

Reviews related to role-playing games, with a focus on Gods & Monsters, and a bit of superhero gaming.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

Knights of the Dinner Table

Jerry Stratton, March 6, 2004

I first ran across the Knights of the Dinner Table at the San Diego Comic-Con during the 1900s. I picked up one issue and then came back the next day and started buying the collections.

I haven’t laughed that much at a comic strip since a friend of mine loaned me a Calvin & Hobbes collection in our post-college pre-exodus commune. This was back when we still gamed on a nearly weekly basis, mostly because we still lived in the same house. Calvin & Hobbes was the freshest comic since I started following Doonesbury in High School.

Knights of the Dinner Table is like that.

The stars of the strip are five gamers who, for the most part, sit around the dinner table and game. Their game of choice is Hackmaster, a Dungeons & Dragons parody. The strip consists of very little action and a whole lot of gamers talking. Like gaming itself, the action takes place in the reader’s imagination. Sometimes cartoonist Jolly Blackburn will take us to the local game shop, or to one of the other groups in the Muncie, Indiana, area, or even to the offices of Hard Eight, the publishers of Hackmaster. But the strip is at its best following the five dedicated gamers whose group gives the strip its title.

Each of the characters is a stereotypical gamer type. Brian is the rules lawyer; Sara the role-player; Bob the hack and slasher; Dave the recent gamer; and B.A. the hard-pressed and frazzled game master always trying to stay one step ahead of his strange and rabid pack.

B.A., Sara, Bob, Dave, and Brian are a bunch of social misfits still living with their parents (in the case of B.A. and Bob) and still playing role-playing games well into their thirties. I wouldn’t trade places with them, but I do envy them. I’d like to think I’m less of a social misfit these days, but if that’s part of why I game less, the trade wasn’t worth it.

The Knights of the Dinner Table is a great strip about hard-core, old-style gamers. If you enjoy Gods & Monsters, you’ll almost certainly enjoy the Knights.

While you’re there, check out the Fuzzy Knights as well. It’s a very strange strip about stuffed animals who game while their owners aren’t looking.

April 12, 2006: Bundles of Trouble 12 through 16

The Knights have been undergoing a lot of changes since I last checked in! Bundle of Trouble Volume 12 starts with the Black Hands in jail, and volume 14 gives us our first Patty’s Perps strips. It’s about time! Patty’s Perps have been tantalizing us in the Who’s Who section since volume eight, with a brief mention in volume 7. By the end of volume 16 I am definitely waiting for more. The Untouchable Trio Plus One has just undergone a huge change, and it can’t last.

On a technical level, Kenzer has thankfully started putting four issues per bundle instead of the three in the previous bundles. (Volume 16 only has three, but it includes the presumably double-sized issue 50.) My bookshelf thanks them.

Tales from the Vault Volume 5 is also out, but I didn’t see it at the comic book store. I did read the main feature on the web, though, and it was pretty damn worth it. Scream of Cachooloo was as hilarious as we’ve come to expect the Knights to be.

Note that these books are linked to Amazon because that’s the way my link system works. However, while they have ISBNs, Kenzer appears to have stopped selling them through standard book distributors. You’ll have to go to the source or to your local gaming or comic book store. Support your local Weird Pete!

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