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Knights of the Dinner Table

From Academic Kids

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Kodt100.jpg
Cover of issue 100 of Knights of the Dinner Table

Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT) is a comic book/strip created by Jolly R. Blackburn and is published by Kenzer and Company. It primarily focuses on a group of Role Playing Gamers and their actions at the gaming table, which often result in unfortunate, but humorous consequences in the game. The name is a pun on King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table.

The main group of characters are the members of a gaming group known as "The Knights of the Dinner Table" among local gamers in their home city of Muncie, Indiana. They are (in their seating order from left to right):

  • B.A. Felton - The Game Master and founder of the group. In his 30's, he still lives with his parents after a failed attempt at game design and now works at Pizza-A-Go-Go and his father's dry cleaning shop. He often find his games thwarted or sabotaged by the antics of the other players, much to his dismay. He is also a sucker for the local game-shop owner, Weird Pete, who constantly finds ways to sell him new (or over-stocked) product, on the basis that it's just what B.A. needs to spice up his campaigns.
  • Bob Herzog - A member of the "Old School" style of playing which revolves around breaking things and killing monsters. He has a short temper, which has led him into trouble on numerous occasions. He tends to react to most encounters with the quote, "I waste him/her/it with my crossbow!". Bob keeps a large dice collection which he is extremely protective of. He currently is attempting to live on his own after a falling out with his father, who does not approve of his hobby. Bob's favourite character (in fantasy campaigns, at least) is a dwarf named Knuckles, who rides a mule he believes to be a "Dwarven Warhorse."
  • Dave Bozwell - The youngest member of the group and a 'professional student' at Ball State University, he is a typical "Hack-N-Slash" style player who becomes bored easily. Often he'd rather fight through a situation then think it through, which he is not proficient at. He simultaneously lusts to own a god-level Magic Sword and dreads the (relatively high) possibility that such a sword will have its Own Ideas of what it wants to be used for.
  • Sara Felton - B.A.'s cousin, Sara is the only female member of the group and prefers games with a stronger focus on role playing rather than the pure action preferred by the other players. Often, she attempts to solve issues in-game through negotiation while the others prefer to use violence. Exactly how she (playing a 'good' character) came to unleash upon the game-world a blood-thirsty pack of pit-bulls who attack and devour anything alive they come across (and quite a few not-alive things as well) is an entirely different story, and one Sara would like the world to forget about, even if she never will)
  • Brian VanHoose - A web designer and miniature painter, Brian is the rules lawyer and powergamer of the group. He is able to quote rules and supplements down to page and paragraph numbers and bend and abuse this knowledge to his own advantage, at times at the expense of the other players. He meticulously hands down notes of earlier adventures to his characters' descendants and has been known to use fellow party-members as tattooed walking grimoires. He is another person said to keep a grudge so long he has a regular account at the taxidermists' shop.

Side characters

  • Weird Pete - owner of the game shop.

Many of the stories presented in KoDT are based on actual in-game experiences of the developers or readers, who are encouraged to submit story ideas. Part of the comic's popularity stems from the reader's ability to relate to the characters and their experiences to their own.

As Blackburn has no formal art training, the characters are drawn in simple caricatures which are scanned by a PC and are continuously reused. This has not hurt the series and has added to its appeal among fans.

KoDT first started in the second issue of Shadis magazine in March of 1990 when then editor Jolly R. Blackburn, still awaiting comics to place on the last page, decided to draw a simple strip of his own to put on the last page, which he called Knights of the Dinner Table and first featured B.A. and Bob. As the third issue came to print, he still did not have comics and continued to make his own, adding in Dave and Brian. By the sixth issue, Blackburn had finally had other comics and replaced KoDT with them, however readers demanded the return of the strip and it did in the eighth issue and continued to until the 21st issue when the strip moved to Dragon Magazine in 1996 with issue #226. In 1996, the comic also began to be published in monthly comic books, which are still in publication.

The popularity of the comic has manifested itself in a number of ways. At conventions that Kenzer Co. attends, live readings of various strips are a popular activity where attendees and even the strip developers take the roles of the various characters and read off the dialog of the strips before an audience. KoDT has also won the Origins Awards for Best Professional Game Magazine of 1998 and 1999.

Also, Kenzer has published an actual version of the fictional Hackmaster role playing game featured in the comic, which is based on the original version of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and uses the same system under license. Hackmaster has become popular on its own, and has even won the Origins Game of the Year 2001 Award in 2002.

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