This is my contribution to the April 2009 RPG Blog Carnival: Humor & Gaming hosted by A Butterfly Dreaming. Roleplaying game humor has been around almost as long as roleplaying games have. I think it is inevitable for themed humor to appear shortly (or immediately) after a popular activity is established or a public event happens.
Much of the early humor that I am aware of was published in the back of Dragon magazine with classic comic strips like Wormy, Phil Folgio’s What’s New with Phil & Dixie, Fineous Fingers, Larry Elmore’s SnarfQuest, and Yamara. Jolly R. Blackburn’s Knight’s of the Dinner Table was always a favorite of mine, and is still going strong.
Shortly before the demise of Dragon, there were four strips that carried on the Dungeons & Dragons humor torch: Nodwick, Order of the Stick, Dork Tower, and The Zogonia and Mt. Zogonia (whose website is unfortunately dead).
Since the demise of Dragon (in print) I have obtained a subscription to its spiritual successor, Kobold Quarterly. The tradition of four color humor continues with KQ’s inclusion of Stan!’s Bolt & Quiver (which used to be published in Dungeon magazine along with Downer the Dark Elf).
Of course with the advent of the web, many artists bypassed the traditional print medium and began releasing their work to the masses on their own, thus the comic strip found new life as the webcomic. I’ve been digging through the internet to find some of the better four color (or b&w) roleplaying game humor and present it as a list (in alphabetical order):
- 8-bit Theater – A Final Fantasy sprite based adventure comic
- Cat’s Grace – A photo webcomic that follows a liontaur adventurer
- Chatty’s Out of the Box – The Chatty DM’s defunct photo webcomic using D&D minis
- Critical Failure – A comic dealing with DM-player table antics created by RPGBN’s own Mark Meredith
- Critical Fumble – The adventures of unlikely heroes portrayed by the D&D arcade game characters
- Darken – This comic series begins with Gort having his heart ripped out by a demon
- Darths & Droids – A screenshot comic poking fun at the series as a roleplaying game
- The DM of the Rings – Viewing the Tolkien fantasy through the lens of D&D & LotR screenshots
- Dungeon Crawl, Inc. – Started out as sprite based, but it is now drawn
- Dungeon Damage – A story narrated by a vicious read dragon
- Dungeons & Denizens – Exposes the life of the creatures who call dungeons home
- Dungeons & Discourse – One of several comics by “Dresden Codak”
- Dungeons & Dorks – Follows the exploits of gamer geeks
- Familiar Ground – Adventuring through the eyes of a familiar
- Fight, Cast, or Evade – About a party of unlucky anthropomorphic adventurers
- Full Frontal Nerdity – A comic about general geeking out, including roleplaying
- Gaming Guardians – Comic about trying to save the world of D&D
- Girl Genius – A gaslamp fantasy drawn by Phil & Kaja Foglio
- Goblins – Chronicles the exploits of a band of goblin adventurers
- Fuzzy Knights – A photo comic hosted by Kenzer & Co (who also hosts KotDT)
- Irregular Comic – This comic explores a lot of topics, but roleplaying is for Fridays
- Legend of Bill – A comic about the wannabe barbarian Bill and his blue dragon pal
- Looking for Group – While at first glance it appears as a WoW parody, it is far from it
- Mind Flayed – This comic features the machinations of an illithid.
- Nahast: Lands of Strife – A chronicle of adventures in the land of Nahast
- Orcusville – Details the life of the demon lord Orcus
- Penny Arcade – Tyche and Gabe often explore the world of D&D
- Planescape Survival Guide – Well… a comic about what the title says
- RH Junior’s Comics – A site containing several comics including Tales of the Questor
- Webcomic List – You might also find some gems here in the fantasy genre
I have really only explored webcomics that were inspired by Dungeons & Dragons or had a general fantasy bent. I tend to stay away from comics derived directly from MMOs since I refuse to pay a subscription, and therefore miss the much of the humor. If you know of any other good table top RPG inspired webcomics, sound off in the comments!