Tuesday, March 25, 2014

On the Coffee Table: Dungeons & Dragons

Title: Dungeons & Dragons: Shadowplague
Writer: John Rogers
Artist: Andrea Di Vito
via The Neo Tokyo Project
Oh, how My Wife rolled her eyes at me when I picked this one off the bookstore shelf!  But ever since I read the first Pathfinder comic as part of last year's A to Z Challenge, I've been curious about the comics based on the original role-playing game, the one in which I invested years of my youth.  From the ages of about 8 to 13, I was obsessed with D&D.  I bought every book my allowance afforded and played every chance I got with whomever would put up with me for long enough.  There are compartments of my brain filled with vocabulary - troglodyte, halberd, prestidigitator - that would not have entered my lexicon until much later or not at all without those hours of D&D.  Even after I stopped playing regularly, I'd still drag out the books from time to time, roll up a few character sheets, then put it all away again.  The game shall always be one of the main pillars of my geekhood.

I wasn't really expecting a whole lot from the comic book.  I'm a sucker for the trappings, of course.  There are character sheets in the back for all of the principals.  Lots of monsters, lots of fighting, trap doors, magic, treasure - you know, D&D stuff.   But the story of Shadowplague is actually pretty good.  Adric Fell, a 7th level Human Fighter, leads his band on fortune-seeking adventures and they manage to fight the forces of evil along the way.  It's a multi-racial outfit, including Bree the Halfling Thief, Khal the Dwarf Paladin, Varis the Elf Ranger and Tisha the Tiefling Star Pact.  Tiefling? Star Pact?  The realm has evolved since my heyday. 

A few D&D quibbles:
- Why is Adric the captain?  All of the characters are Level 7 and Khal has a higher charisma score, albeit by one point.  In fact, all of his ability scores are higher except for dexterity and you're not going to pick your leader for dexterity.  I sense a human bias!  Maybe Adric's player brought the Doritos and refused to share unless they let him be captain.
- Where did Bree pick up her hand crossbow? It's not anywhere in her character sheet.  I'm all for artistic license but come on!  No dungeon master worthy of the title would let her get away with that.

Di Vito's artwork is lush as one would expect of a fantasy comic.  Rogers's writing is fun, too, with lots of witty, playful banter between the characters in the campaign.  I'm up for more.  IDW, the current license holder, has also published collections of the earlier DC comics as well so I may keep an eye out for those, too.


  1. Embrace the inner geek, indeed.

  2. Ah, that takes me back. D&D is still around of course but much more complicated than the old days. Have to say I preferred the old school version.

    Moody Writing

    1. They've scaled back their product offerings, though. They've survived they've struggled to compete with the online games.

  3. I remember my brother's friends playing D&D and me never having a clue what it was about, and not able to get anyone to explain it to me. It seemed as if my big brother was blocking this other world from me, LOL.
    Today, I would just get on the internet and learn all about it. It would have been so awesome to have Wikipedia and iPhones back then!

    1. I didn't know any girls who played. Sadly, or maybe not, that's one of the reasons I stopped and it wasn't even a fear of judgment thing. From 7th grade onward, most of my close friends were girls and they didn't play. I didn't really like the guys at school who did. If I hadn't run out of appealing people to play with, I might never have stopped at all.

  4. I should keep an eye out for this. I've been dismissive of D&D tie-in fiction in the past, but maybe that's too restrictive. I'm an unabashed fan of the game, and one of my reasons for starting to blog in 2011 was to revel in the revival of old-school role playing that the internet has enabled.

    I guess my D&D group in the 80s was the oddball... There were always girls at our gaming table, but in all but one case they were the girlfriends of one of the dudes in our core group.

    1. My singulars and plurals are askew in that last sentence... it sounds like I'm saying it was a serial harem of just one dude. Not so! :-)

    2. By the time girlfriends came into the picture for me - not just friends who were girls but actual dating entities - I'd moved on. At 13, I also discovered the Beatles and my allowance went to funding that hobby instead. Do you suppose there's a Fab Four RPG out there?

      Among those I knew who played in high school and college, there were more girls, particularly those who'd been drawn into it by a boyfriend, as you suggest.