While I was married I did very little gaming and came close to losing all connection to the hobby. When my wife and I separated I started to regain my connection to gaming in general and, in many ways, the older side of the hobby through one principle mechanism, a comic book. That comic was The Knights of the Dinner Table (KODT for short).
The comic wasn’t new to me. I had kept reading magazines during the 90s in between rare games. I even have several issues of Shadis prior to 10 including #2 with the first appearance of the Knights…well, of BA and Bob. It was hanging out at the Dragon’s Lair in Hartford, Connecticut (or was it New Britain, they were close to the line) on a Friday night that I bought my first issue. I soon collected all the back issues I could and have been a regular reader ever since.
For those not familiar with the comic it’s primary story concerns the exploits, mostly but not exclusively, at the game table of the titled group. The consistent members have BA, a long suffering DM; Bob, the archetypal power gamer compensating for lack of control in his real life; Dave, a specimen of that rare breed, the jock gamer (if only mild as a jock); Sarah, book club loving specimen of the women Vampire brought to the hobby; and Brian, rules lawyer and con man who you keep around because when the chips are down loyalty rules over everything else. The game they most commonly play is Hackmaster which became popular enough to become a game in it’s own right. They have also played several other games from the same company including Hacknoia (X-Files), Cattlepunk (Western), Spacehack, Scream of Kachooloo, and Heroes and Zeros (supers). Two other groups have appeared more than one: The Black Hand Gaming Society and Patty’s Perpetrators.
The world of KoDT is arguably an RPGer’s dream, where large associations and conventions are common and the FLGS is still the meeting place and hang out. The stories often involve convoluted plots in the real world that are attempts to gain advantage or revenge in game. Those convoluted real world plots are one of the great aspects as you and buddies have tried those very plots in game multiple times.
In fact, the greatest strength of KoDT is it’s realism. It’s not realistic in the traditional sense of the plots mirror the real world. Instead, the character bring the realism. Each of the regulars including the Knights, Black Hands, and the preps are people we’ve with whom we’ve played games. My current group is a mix of the Knights and the Perps and I would jump at a chance to play with either group (although I’ll admit I’d prefer the Perps).
It’s that realism that reconnected me to gaming when I came back. It reminded me of where the real fun of gaming is. It’s in sitting around a table with a bunch of people who if they aren’t friends they will be after a few sessions. It’s in the slightly off personalities we all bring to the table. It’s the obsessions that come through in our characters.
KoDT is all of that writ larger than life.