Or – “How You Know When You’re Old…”

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Several years ago, while in college (roughly the late Cretaceous Period) Bruce Otter and I used to drive halfway across the state to Salina, Kansas, to visit several hole-in-the-wall comic book shops and thrift stores for comics.  On one such outing, Bruce picked up the first issue of Knights of The Dinner Table, while I, in my wisdom chose to pick up U.N. Force (and I think we all know how well that book did.)  Over a decade late, KoDT is still going strong, and celebrated their sesquicentennial (look it up) issue, proving that there’s no idea to simple to be successful.

KODT2.jpgPreviously, on Knights Of The Dinner Table:  Four friends (B.A. Felton ((The Game Master)), Brian Van Hoose ((The Rules Lawyer)), Bob Herzog ((The Combat Twink)) and Dave Bozwell ((The One With The Pointy Hair))) are the last remaining members of the once-mighty Knights of the Dinner Table gaming society.  Joined by B.A.’s cousin Sarah (the only real role-player in the group) the Knights meet a couple of times a week around B.A.’s dining room to play Hackmaster, Hacknoia, Heroes of Hack-something, and other vaguely familar role-playing games.  Their supporting cast has grown, and their adventures have gotten more and more complex over the years, but the central conceit (the fact that if you’ve ever played a role-playing game, you know these conversations) remains strong…

In an economy where venerated publications like Dragon have gone under, it is pretty impressive to see a book like this last as long as it has, so I can forgive the eight or so pages of congratulatory letters that open the book.  When we get to the first strip, it’s a done-in-one, a story of long-brewing revenge by Sarah on the other Knights for a long-ago slight (when she left her character in their hands for a night, they had her fighter strip naked, give them all her loot and magic items, and fight a dragon weaponless and naked.  She send in her friend Patty (a girl who has had designs on Dave for some time) to temp her character, and the entire night spirals out of control from their.  The presence of a new woman in the group leaves the “Untouchable Trio” in disarray, and ends with them broke and trapped in a dungeon with no escape, having had their possessions and coin looted.  I don’t know how they’ll deal with this in the long-term storyline of the strip, but it’s a cute ending anyway.

The next strip appeals to me more as a former Game Master than anything else, telling the story of a gaming group who end up each throwing themselves into a pit of lava to their inescapable deaths, only to have the GM end up at a bar with other GM’s collecting on her bet to see how many members of the party they could kill with the stupid pool of lava.  Another done-in-one repeats the first strips’s gag, with Sarah’s role-playing finally winning over the other group members’ min-maxing and ultra-violence.  Reviews, a tribute to the late Dave Arneson, and home-brew game materials fill out the book, including a fully workable (sort of) version of a running gag in the KoDT strip, “Dawg: The RPG.”  It’s a nice issue overall, and avoids the problem that had me leave the book back around issue #110: the endless continuation of the strips and the addition of more supporting material.  This is less a comic book than it is a gaming magazine at comic size, but it’s got enough entertainment value that I wasn’t disappointed by the material that didn’t appeal to me.

When Bruce bought issue #1, just before the French Revolution, I didn’t see how “game stories” could carry a whole book, even just in comic strip form, but the Knights have managed to flesh out their game stories and character bits with actual development.  Most impressive is an ever-expanding cast of various recognizable types, including the irascible game store owner, the geek who always plays female characters, the computer gamer who crossed over and more.  I didn’t expect for this issue to allow me to just jump back into the world of the Knights the way it did.  Even so, there’s a lot of stuff here that I don’t care for or about (especially a phot0-strip called “Fuzzy Knights” with Beany Bablies playing D&D) and the book is obviously aimed at a niche market.  If you’ve never played a dice and paper RPG, this may not be the most accessible of titles, but overall it’s a good issue.  Knights of the Dinner Table #150 earns a better-than-I-hoped 3 out of 5 stars.  You have to give kudos to KenzerCo for making a book like this work, especially for 150 issues, and it’s good to see a non-superhero book suriving in a market like this… 

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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3 Comments

  1. hermit
    June 1, 2009 at 9:59 am — Reply

    wow, this is still running. i bought a few issues a couple of years ago, loaned them to a friend… and i don’t see him anymore. poof, the books are gone.

    the magazine was great, the strip awesome. and they had Fuzzy knights of the dinner table on their website (yeah, it’s plushies playing d&d). check it out, it’s really good.

  2. Hardman
    June 1, 2009 at 3:59 pm — Reply

    KODT rocks! I used to game a lot, but as time went by and I grew up, got married, and had kids – well, I just don’t game as much as I want to anymore. I just don’t have the time. This comic helps to satisfy my RPG craving. It reminds me of the good old days of gaming with a close group of friends.

    I, too, am very impressed that it has lasted as long as it has. I started picking the book up at issue #4 and haven’t missed an issue since. The crudely drawn art just goes so well with the dialogue and storylines – it wouldn’t be as good if they hired another artist to draw it “better”.

    Here’s hoping that KODT stays for another 150 issues.

  3. June 1, 2009 at 4:17 pm — Reply

    I think that #1 issue was the only one I ever bought. Still have it though…I think.

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