I’m a big fan of escapist memoirs. I love reading about what drives us into these realms of illusion and especially with how they help us deal with the real world, as Ethan Gilsdorf’s excellent Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks did so eloquently.
I was surprised, then, when I discovered the King of RPGs manga series, written by Jason Thompson and illustrated by Victor Hao. It’s by no means a memoir — more of a dark comedic fantasy — but it is clear that the authors are intimately familiar with the roleplaying game culture depicted in the book.
King of RPGs starts off with the main character, Shesh Maccabee, addicted to a World of Warcraft–style MMORPG. Something horrible happens and he’s forced to quit the game, cold turkey, before heading off to college. While there, Sheesh stumbles into a tabletop roleplaying game club. His addiction returns, he falls off the wagon, and deep into his alter-ego, Moggrathka.
The characters are fun pastiches of “those guys” that you encounter in gaming groups all over the world, and the series’ plot develops in a very engaging and fun direction. When I finished the first volume, all in one sitting, I immediately picked up Book 2, because I needed to know what happened next.
If you’re not familiar with gaming — tabletop or online — tropes, a lot of King of RPGs‘ humor might be lost on you. I also noticed that Hao’s art style is somewhat cluttered and there were a few instances where I had to re-read a page in order to understand what was going on. Aside from that, though, King of RPGs is a fun, manic romp through gamer culture.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy of the series.