One challenge of portraying people playing tabletop games in comic books is that it can be boring to see people sitting at a table rolling dice.  Scott Kurtz frequently delves into assorted sides of gaming with his online comic PvP, and he spun off into a Dungeons and Dragons comedy with Table Titans.  This group of D&D players begin on their own with Table Titans Book One: First Encounters.

The story begins with the Table Titans -- snarky dude Alan, rules-obsessed Andrew, and real-life warring mythical dwarf Val -- getting ready for a D&D competition.  Their goal: claim the Winotaur, a trophy of great renown, currently owned by rival gaming group the Dungeon Dogs.  Adam isn't happy Brendan is their Dungeon Master, but Brendan is the only person willing to DM for them.  And their fourth player is Darby, a cheerful and slightly dopey guy who's never played D&D before.

Then the D&D adventure begins, with the players getting (sometimes getting stuck with) their pre-generated characters.  Everyone's quite happy, except for the would-be fighter Val:

They then embark on the D&D adventure, involving a town under siege my a mysterious monster, a former adventurer, a conspiracy, and a cute blink dog as their new helper and mascot.  Will the Table Titans solve the mystery?  Can Val deal with playing a bard?  Will Brendan remain as their DM?  And who will wind up with the Winotaur?

I enjoyed Table Titans but -- and as a gamer I never thought I'd say this -- the comics are almost too focused on the gaming.  We know virtually nothing about the players outside of the gaming table (except for Val): There's no backstory for the characters or how they met, or why the Table Titans can't get another DM).  On the plus side, the comics do capture the often-unintentional humor that happens at the game table, and Kurtz keeps things interesting by showing the in-strip D&D game as a full-fledged adventure.

Table Titans lacks the over-the-top bad behavior and worse playing that is a staple of Knights of the Dinner Table, but it's still an enjoyable trip into the world of some D&D players.  The first volume also has a few extras: the PvP comics that introduced the Table Titans, the pre-Brendan Table Titans playing the Mines of Madness, character sketches, and tales from the table from real-life roleplayers.  Table Titans Book One: First Encounters is a nice, enjoyable look on some D&D players.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

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