Tabletop Games and XKCD

I recently was introduced to an online comic named XKCD. I have no idea how I have missed it all this time. (For those of you who have missed the entire Web comic phenomenon, you may well be in for a treat. Creative people completely bypass the trouble of getting syndicated and publish whatever they please on the Internet. Some of my other favorites have been Kevin and Kell, which I still love but got behind on and then never had time to catch up on, and the early years of Sluggy Freelance, before they lost me with the evil kittens from hell, though I still remember with amusement their mummy arc and their sci-fi arc.)

Anyway, XKCD seems pretty simple on the surface: stick people, simple line drawings. But it is funny and clever and wry and sarcastic and touching. And perfect for a former math/science nerd like me. (‘Oh, yeah?” you ask suspiciously. “Then where did all this woo-woo fringey occult stuff about being a psychic and a channeler come from?” “I’m glad you asked,” I say. “Let me tell you about the funny thing that happened to me while on the way to the forum.” Well, maybe another time.)

What brought me to making this post was comic #393. (Be sure to hover your mouse over each comic. There’s additional stuff there in the form of commentary.) This particular comic combines references to Gary Gygax, tabletop gaming, and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (plus any other fictional reference to challenging Death to a game)—granted, not quite as sterling as Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but still good stuff.

The term “tabletop,” for those who don’t know, refers to any variety of games you play at the table or wherever, more or less face to face with your fellow gamers. In many circles, it specifically refers to role-playing games (RPGs), of which one well-known example is Dungeons and Dragons, though that style of game has spawned a host of games similar in concept but wildly varying in content. (Mutants and Masterminds, Vampire: The Masquerade [and offshoots and descendants], and others come to mind.)

After years of being interested at a distance, I started playing tabletop RPGs a few years ago. We play sporadically, don’t take it too seriously, and have a lot of fun. My most recent character is Valentine, a sky pirate who is fond of diamonds and the color pink. She is more or less immortal and can regenerate, though she must have rum (of course—what else?) in order to do so. Otherwise, though I created her using the Mutants and Masterminds system, she has nothing superhuman about her. She’s a ton of fun to play.

But back to XKCD. Check it out! Enjoy!

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