Monday, July 6, 2009

Knights of the Dinner Table #151 & #152

Well, they sure knew what they were doing when they named Issue #151 Jump The Shark as I'm sure the letter columns and message boards at Kenzer & Company will be flooded with people accuses them of coping out and giving into that oldest of comic book cliches; the character who is not really dead.

But you know what? Screw it.

The truth is that I'm more excited about the return of Gary Jackson after his apparently death than I am about Steve Rogers returning. And unlike that story-line, it turns out that this one was planned out well in advanced and isn't just a desperate grab for readers from an ever-dwindling customer base.

But more entertaining than the subplot with Gary Jackson returning (and the strips explaining just how they have been hinting to his not really being dead for a while) is the strips detailing the player outrage at Heidi Jackson's "New and Improved" Hackmaster, which clever readers might have noticed subtly parallels many gamer complaints about 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. In this case, I am using an obscure meaning of the word subtly which means "as subtle as a silver dragon attempting to tap dance."

It's a good laugh, though - as are the strips detailing gamer group 'The Black Hands' inadvertent use of a cattle stampede as a weapon as well as Bob returning to playing a thief for the first time in a long while and a contest between the local GMs as to how far they can get their players to lower themselves for bonus XP. ("I'm pretty sure naked Twister is illegal in the state of Indiana...")

I wish I could hold the same praise for the columns of this magazine as I do for the comics. Sadly, I cannot.

Comic Critic Tony DiGerolamo proves - as he reviews the Faces of Evil: Kobra one-shot - that he is in desperate need of an editor or treatment for temporal confusion, as he starts out talking about how Kobra was the inspiration for Cobra from G.I. Joe at the start of the review and then complains about Kobra being a Cobra Commander rip-off at the end of the review.

He also complains about Kobra's goals not being as clearly defined as a real terrorist group like Al Queda. Forgiving that that may be because Kobra's more of a doomsday religious cult than a terrorist group, it's not like Cobra's ultimate goals were all that well defined either.

Curiously, he seems to slam the DC books at the same time that he is praising all the Marvel materials. A fandom bias? Must investigate further.

And of course, what review of Knights of the Dinner Table magazine would be complete without mentioning the stupidity that is Gaming At The Movies and mourning the loss of former gamer movie critic Spoony?

The basic way this column works is that the guy who writes it rehashes the plot of a classic movie, tells you what game systems could be used to replicate that movie and then gives you GameMaster 101 Advice on how to run a game using that scenario... ignoring the fact that most novice GMs already rip off movies to create their adventures.

Last month, he spoke about how you could recreate Apocalypse Now in space. This month, he spoke about how you could create a really great superhero game based on X-Men.

You know... I can rant about this all day. But I think it's more effective to let the words speak for themselves. From the most recent column, about how to use the X-Men movies to provide fodder for your superhero RPG...

At the heart of any X-Men campaign is the tension between fearful humans, altruistic X-Men and believers in mutant supremacy.

Because there aren't any humans who don't fear mutants, altruistic believers in mutant supremacy or X-Men who are just in it to save their own asses because it's easier to hide in a school than go to war.

Collateral Destruction is always fun.

And you wonder why humanity hates and fears you?

Death of a mutant is quite rare.

What X-Men books have YOU been reading, bub?

Remember the player characters are the heroes. Don't let them be overshadowed by other known X-Men or mutants.

If you need to be told to make your players the stars of the game, you should hang up your GM Screen NOW.

Overall, KODT is still the best gamer magazine on the market. Just skip that stuff in the back half between the comics and the other comics.

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