Last November I wrote a spotlight on RPGenerations: Tabletop Knights and Cawood Publishing. That Kickstarter campaign has since successfully funded and backers are receiving their rewards. Unless I’m mistaken (I’m not), I was backer #1. Today I want to take a brief trip down a slightly nostalgic path and review this comic by Domenico Neziti. I hope you find some of these comics as pleasantly poignant as I did when I read them.
I have been playing Dungeons & Dragons since the early 90s when my oldest brother (8 years my senior) introduced me to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. I don’t want to engage too much in hyperbole but that introduction may have been the best of my life! D&D and I quickly became friends and we’ve been lifelong companions ever since.
This comic (available on DriveThruRPG) has 100 cartoons inside it and all are inspired by real events at Domenico’s table. More than a few of them struck a familiar nerve with me and I thought I’d share a few of those moments with you. All images have been reshared with the express permission of the publisher, Andrew Cawood of Cawood Publishing.
Bend Bars / Lift Gates
Long before 5E (and the d20 system before it) streamlined the rules for D&D we used charts for seemingly everything. Lots and lots of charts. One thing that all my fighters and paladins loved was the Strength Table II.: Ability Adjustments table on page 9 of the AD&D Players Handbook. With this table you find your adjustments for hit probability, damage adjustment, weight allowance, opening doors, and, finally, the ability to bend bars and lift gates. A player with an 18/00 strength could lift a given gate with a 40% success rate. This panel accurately depicts the situation. You were more likely to fail than succeed and you had one chance. I hit many a dead-end that my min-maxed characters who were over-reliant on brawn couldn’t always escape.
In the Dark with Riddles
For all his leniency, my brother was a damned tyrant when it came to riddles. He was perfectly content with us using a modified system to rolls stats (5d6 and drop the lowest two versus ye old standard of 4d6 drop the lowest ONE, for example. He ran a heroic campaign!). He was also a very forgiving DM unless we did something ridiculously dumb.
But my god! “Can I roll to see if I know the answer to this one?” “Nope. Sorry, buddy. Figure out which golem doesn’t belong based on the given clues, or you fight all five of them.”
Fortunately, I solved that particular riddle but there were many I did not. A couple of years ago I watched a video by Matt Colville regarding this and he eloquently explained his stance on the philosophy. I don’t recall which video it was. If you do, or want to search it at his YouTube channel, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to send it to my brother and tell him I’m sorry for all my whining.
Every OGT D&D nerd of my generation can relate to this cartoon. It’s so moving that I’m not sure I even need to bother explaining. I remember how I felt in the 90s listening grunge and metal and loving fantasy novels and RPGs. Being a teenager is hard enough. But as a teenager with a nearly unbridled passion for swords and sorcery I was always reticent to reveal myself to just anyone
But these days it’s cool to be a nerd. I have a bit of a theory on this. It’s rough and unrefined but I suspect it has a lot to do with “bro culture” and that several people have grown weary of so-called toxic masculinity (roleplaying circles are not immune to bigotry and prejudice so please don’t assume I’m implying we’re all white knights). We tend to be passionate and attentive to detail. Furthermore, we take pride in our collections and treat everything around us with care and diligence. Turns out that most of us “beta males” make great fathers too.
For all the good feels that this comic invoked I give it 5 stars. Go buy it. The (mostly) single panel illustrations are reminiscent of Gary Larson’s The Far Side which also takes me back a couple of decades or so. I want to be clear that not every cartoon in the collection is a throwback the way the three I’ve chosen are. You’re just seeing some of my favorites . There are sure to be others that anyone will keenly connect with. Go find the ones you love and let me know which are your favorites. Or if you already have, LET ME KNOW!