A few years ago I stumbled upon a small online comic called Table Titans. It was already somewhat established (being a spin-off of another webcomic, PvP), so I got to enjoy catching up on an entire storyline season in one sitting. The series has grown and evolved, and it’s great for new readers because the entire series is online. In a nutshell, Table Titans follows a group of D&D players in two worlds — the “real” world and the adventuring world. The online comic moves back and forth frequently, touching on the real lives of the players and their table antics as well as diving into the world of the D&D characters they play and whatever adventure they happen to be experiencing at the moment.
While Table Titans has numerous minor characters (including a rival gaming group), the primary characters include:
Andrew — playing the halfling rogue, Sootfoot LeFleur, Andrew is a bit of a rules lawyer and continues to bide his time when he can run (as DM) his own epic campaign that he constantly carries around in a binder.
Alan — a take-no-prisoners player who is all about the power and loot, Alan finds himself in the role of Drake Shieldheart, a lawful good cleric which will occasionally push back against Alan’s real world personality and goals in a game.
Val — roleplaying is life for Val, who sometimes lets her roleplaying of Lulani the Bard spill out in her day-to-day interactions with her team and the world.
Darby — the newbie, Darby is the half-elf wizard named Draziw who sees the world as a glass-is-half-full kind of player and brings in some new blood to a group that doesn’t always see the obvious.
Brendan — a true Dungeon Master who sometimes skirting the rules in favor of story, Brendan has inherited the Table Titans and drops them into a new adventure in the village of Haverford.
As with any new crew of adventurers, this is a team that will need to come together to fight a lurking evil… but it’s those initial encounters that are so fun to read. The personality conflicts, players trying to figure out their new characters’ motives, and the novices trying to figure out what is and isn’t allowed – it’s good stuff and it’s all captured in full-color panels with a great mix of humor and inside jokes and knowing nods. From the team getting tossed into a prison cell for inciting a riot just after entering the small village to Alan having to backtrack on his behavior after being reminded he is a LAWFUL GOOD cleric to Darby discovering the joy of painted miniatures, writer and illustrator Scott Kurtz (and colored by Steve Hamaker) has nailed so many (too many!) aspects of roleplaying gamers.
Note: Some of you may know Scott Kurtz as one of the members of Acquisitions Inc, one of the more enjoyable streaming D&D games with DM Chris Perkins.
Table Titans has a huge following, and anyone new to the online comic can easily catch up to the current season but you can save yourself from a few hundred clicks of your mouse by getting the entire first season (plus some bonus material) in a single printed book called Book One: First Encounters. Initially funded with Kickstarter, the entire first season is now available to anyone in an oversized full-color 80-page paperback. In additional the first season storyline, you’ll get a few bonus comics that show the evolution of Table Titans (from the PvP comic) as well as some original sketch work of the characters and a collection of Tales from the Table, stories submitted by fans about fun or unusual happenings with their own games.
There are so many reasons why I’m such a fan of Table Titans, but I think it comes down to recognizing a little bit of myself and my fellow gamers in the pages. I can’t play full-time (although I really do wish full-time DM was a paid gig I could apply for) but Table Titans allows me to look over the shoulders of another gaming group and get a little dose of “reality” and roleplaying. Sure, the Table Titans are fictional, but there’s a little dose of truth in every panel, and that’s what keeps me coming back to see what this motley group has to face next.