Dungeon Crawlin’ Fools

May 17, 2009 at 6:42 PM 1 comment

“Clearly, you must be the leader of this team. Perhaps we could compare tactical notes.”
thog like breaking stuff.
“… Never mind.”

 “We’re magical knights!”
“No, we’re lawyers.”

“She’s wearing red leather. I mean, red leather?? Of course she’s evil!”

 Dungeon Crawlin’ Fools is the first compilation of the webcomic The Order of the Stick (www.giantitp.com). It features the comic strips 1-121, as well as a load of author commentary and bonus strips. The Order of the Stick is a webcomic, as I already mentioned. A webcomic is a comic strip where new strips are posted, usually frequently, on the internet. (These strips vary in size. In Order of the Stick, strips are usually page length. In other webcomics, such as The Unspeakable Vault (of Doom), strips are usually the size of a regular newspaper comic strip, i.e. one line. Some others, such as XKCD, have no standard size and simply vary.) There are generally considered to be two main types of webcomics, gag-a-day and plot-driven. Gag-a-day comics have no real plot. They usually have a set of main characters, but follow no plotline, instead just trying to earn laughs from the audience. Plot-driven comics have a plot, and a strong cast of characters. They may be funny, but humor is not the only goal. The Order of the Stick is interesting due to the fact that it metamorphisized from a gag-a-day comic into a plot-driven comic. And we can see the start of that in this book.

The premise of The Order of the Stick is that the protagonists are a group of adventurers in a world which follows the rules of 3.5 Edition Dungeons and Dragons. The catch is that everyone (or at least everyone intelligent) knows that those are the rules that govern the world. So, of course, they make references to them. The characters are a mixture of your stereotypical group of dungeon-crawlers and subversions of the stereotypical dungeon-crawlers. There’s the cuckoo bard, Elan, the devious female thief, Haley, the verbose ambiguously gendered elven wizard, Vaarsuvius, and the dwarven cleric, Durkon, complete with heinous Scottish accent. And there’s also Roy, the smart fighter, and Belkar, the psychopathic violent halfling.

The first 40 strips are pretty clearly gag-a-day comedy. There’s a couple quick mini-plots, but it’s still gag-a-day. And while it’s funny, it’s only funny to the sort of people who know Dungeons & Dragons, and have played it. In other words, it’s pure nerd humor. Then comes the Linear Guild. To quote the author: What seems to be a quick joke about evil twins turns out to be The Order of the Stick’s  first true plotline. And it’s true. This strip begins the transition.

And from there on out, it’s pretty straightforward. Betrayal, another brief plotline, and onto the big bad himself! Xykon, evil lich sorcerer and b*stard, and his accomplices, Redcloak, goblin cleric, and the mysterious (and childish) Monster in the Darkness. Once they’re beaten, it’s out of the dungeon. (After activating the self-destruct rune to blow the whole place sky-high.) A little bit of foreshadowing the greater forces out there (My blades will be bathed in the blood of those responsible,) and there’s the book.

It’s definitely not the high point of The Order of the Stick, but it’s still funny. With limited money, this is not the book to buy. As of now, with the commentary is near useless and the bonus comics funny but not that funny, you’d be better off spending your money on the later books and read strips 1-121 on the web at giantitp.com. Unless, of course, you’re an obsessive fan. In which case, buy the book!

My Rating: 66/100

Next Up In Order of the Stick Reviews: On The Origin of the PCs

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Entry filed under: book review, Order of the Stick, webcomics. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Sarah Buttenwieser  |  May 25, 2009 at 3:03 PM

    very measured review, coming from an order of the stick fanatic (or so you seem to the maternal –unit– eye).

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