It’s time for gaming humor to shine. The Knights of the Dinner Table is probably the best gaming-related comic in print today. Featuring the adventures of a group of hack and slash gamers, the comic has been in print for over a decade, and has also given birth to several spin-off magazines – not to mention the entire Hackmaster line of role-playing products. Taking them on is the Order of the Stick, which is another gaming-based comic that primarily makes jokes about Dungeons & Dragons. The Order is not actually composed of gamers, but is actually a band of stick figure adventurers. Still, the spirit remains the same. This fight will feature several mini-bouts, as Bob, Dave, Sara, and Brian of the Knights take on Roy, Haley, Vaarsuvius, Durkan, Elan, and Belkar of the Order. The Order of the Stick has the advantage of numbers, but the Knights of the Dinner Table have the advantage of experience. Plus, the Knights don’t have Elan the bard in their group. That’s got to even things out a bit right there.
Round One: Dave versus Roy
Roy, being the leader of the Order of the Stick, leads the charge into battle. The Knights of the Dinner Table don’t really have a leader per se, but Dave’s character El Ravager happens to be a fighter, so it seems to make sense to have him take on Roy. The two warriors charge into battle, Roy wielding his family’s Starmetal sword and Dave/El Ravager hefting his Hackmaster +12. Roy figures he’s got the advantage in this one, since he’s a modern D&D fighter, and therefore has more hit points and attacks per round than someone from the Hackmaster RPG system. However, he also has to figure out his modifiers before attacking. Since he’s always on watch, he has a fatigue penalty to hit. He’s got a charging bonus to cancel that out, but also has to worry about drawing an attack of opportunity as he rushes into battle. Of course, he’s got the mobility feat to help negate the AoO problem, but he’s also got to consider what might happen if someone flanks him in combat. And if he loses initiative, he might be flat-footed, which would remove his Dexterity bonus to AC, and…
Meanwhile, Dave isn’t hindered by all the overthinking. In fact, he pretty much doesn’t think at all; he just hacks. The GM is left to figure out all the modifiers, while Dave leaps into battle with a fervor. While Roy is still trying to figure out which of his modifiers stack and what potions he should drink to buff himself up for the fight, Dave is inserting the Hackmaster +12 into the other guy’s spleen. Round One goes to the Knights of the Dinner Table.
Round Two: Bob versus Elan and Haley
As soon as the battle began, Bob/Knuckles hid in the shadows and prepped a crossbow bolt for an attack on Elan. After all, the blonde kid’s obviously a bard, and so should be easy experience points. The rest of the Order of the Stick is ignoring Elan, since all he’s doing right now is singing, “Fight, fight, fight the obsessive gamers who have difficulty separating their identities from those of their characters.” Bob preps his backstab, but winds up rolling a 1 and botching. The invisible, omnipotent GM somewhere in the sky rolls on the critical blunders table, and Bob winds up cutting off his own foot. Elan turns around in surprise, and changes his bard song to, “Bleed, bleed, bleed to death you scum-sucking assassin.” Haley, who has a massive crush on Elan, sees the risk to her beloved and fills Bob full of arrows. Round Two goes to the Order of the Stick.
Round Three: Sara versus Durkan
Durkan tries to sneak up on Sara and get into range where he can blast her with Thor’s lightning. But because he wears full plate mail armor, he odds of moving silently are about as good as the odds that Dave and Bob wouldn’t kill roaches for the experience points if they had the chance. In other words, Sara hears Durkan coming up behind her. Thinking quickly, she devises a plan that will let her win this fight without horribly slaughtering someone. She grabs a metal trash can, which just happens to have been conveniently left lying around by the props people. Then she springs toward Durkan as he’s preparing his spell. She drops the trash can on top of Durkan’s head, flips it onto its side, and kicks the dwarf down a nearby hill. Durkan goes rolling off into the distance, grumbling about how this is a fate unbecoming of his dwarven pride. But there’s a reason no one plays clerics. Or dwarves. Round Three goes to the Knights of the Dinner Table.
Round Four: Brian versus Vaarsuvius
Vaarsuvius goes into a long-winded speech about what he/she is about to do to Brian. Brian, unfamiliar with the ways of elven women/men, tries to figure out if V is hitting on him. While he is tempted or revulsed by the elf’s possible flirtations (depending on whether V is male or female, which no one seems to know), he knows he’s here for one purpose: to hack. However, since he’s not really a combat type, Brian instead tries to rules lawyer Vaarsuvius to death, nitpicking his/her casting times, obscure material components, and so on. Even V’s incredible intellect is astounded by Brian’s intricate knowledge of the rules. However, there is one trick left up his/her sleeve.
“I think you’ve failed to site page 39, subsection C of this book,” he/she says, pulling an obscure hardcover out of his/her formless robes and tossing it to Brian. Intrigued, Brian checks out the book.
“There aren’t any rules in here,” he says. “There’s just one page that says, ‘I prepared explosive runes this morning…’ oh, damn.”
Naturally, the explosive runes go off, and Brian goes up in flames. Round Four goes to the Order of the Stick.
Round Five: Belkar
Throughout the battle, Belkar has stayed on the sidelines. Despite being a psychotic, homicidal little creature, the halfling ranger has held back upon viewing the Knights of the Dinner Table. Now each group – or at least the people still alive in each group – are preparing for the last round, and Belkar decides to make his move.
You see, the one thing he’s noticed while watching the Knights is that they’re a bunch of savage, bloodthirsty creatures who live for nothing more than killing things and taking their stuff. Arguably, they would take the lives of their own mothers if it meant leveling up. In other words, they’re just Belkar’s style.
So while the Order of the Stick calls for Belkar’s help, Belkar decides to side with the Knights instead. That leaves Haley, Vaarsuvius, and Elan against Dave, Sara, and Belkar. Dave and Belkar have more than enough combat prowess and bloodlust to outmatch Haley and Elan, while Sara’s got enough common sense to outmatch Vaarsuvius. While V is going through a long and detailed monologue outlining a clever plan, Dave and Belkar finish off Haley and Elan. Then they go after V, whose escape plan of teleporting away is disrupted by the fact that it’s hard to concentrate on casting a spell when your intenstines are lying in front of you. Round Five and the fight go to the Knights of the Dinner Table, plus Belkar.