When you’re unemployed, it’s a perpetually rainy day without some eccentric cat to bring a bag full of zany misadventures to cure your boredom. During the summer of 2008, I had graduated college optimistic I’d find a job. I was so optimistic that I invited my friend yutakabareru to be my roommate. At that time, he was gainfully employed and I had begun searching for work. Six months later, I still hadn’t found work and yutaka had quit his job! We were two gamers on a couch. In order to keep ourselves sane, we launched our own Heroes screencap webcomic, inspired Darths and Droids, GWI: Game without Initials.
I spent most of my time online surfing TV Tropes, a quantum singularity pulling the bored over its event horizon. When I was “researching” tabletop gaming tropes for ideas for my Eberron game, I clicked through the different Player Archetypes, eventually discovering the Darths and Droids entry. The entry begins with this question, “What If Star Wars as we know it didn’t exist, but instead the plot of the movies was being made up on the spot by players of a Tabletop Game?” It also mentions how Jar Jar Binks, the albatross around the fandom’s neck, is portrayed in a redeemable, identifiable, and less annoying way. It seemed to have an interesting premise and characters, so I had to check it out.
Not only was the comic hilarious, but it was well written and realistically portrayed the social interactions within a Gaming Group. At that time, the only tabletop gaming inspired webcomic I was familiar with was Order of the Stick, so this was the first online comic I read that actually showed the interactions between Player and DM. The DM’s need to negotiate with his Players is shown in his interactions with Pete (R2-D2). Pete’s entire character concept is one big negotiation, providing the reader with the origins of Artoo. The DM originally enforces the rule that Pete can only speak in beeps and boops, because he takes Mute as a disadvantage. It also showed the DM’s need to improvise. Sally, the youngest member of the Group, invents Jar Jar Binks on the spot, faithfully portraying the zany sidekick throughout the entire game. Her imagine explains many of George Lucas’ more unique creations. Finally, it shows what happens when DM and Player work together toward creating a fun game for everybody. Annie, a drama student, is always asking the DM question and reacting to his responses . She eventually portrays Anakin Skywalker, working with the DM to create an interesting storyline for her character. Darths and Droids is an honest portrayal of a Gaming Group, showing how the game brings friends together for a night of thrilling action, hilarious comedy, and the suspense of the dice roll.
During the weeks that passed, yutaka and I read the recent strips as they were posted every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. We speculated on how the writers would incorporate various elements from the Prequels. We wondered how this would eventually affect the Original Trilogy, which the writers are planning on adapting. We debated on whether the DM’s style was feasible under certain circumstances as they applied to our own Gaming Group. One night, it finally dawned on us after watching Heroes; we should make our own screencap comic.
Since we were both fans of Heroes, we decided to adapt Darths and Droids’ premise for the hour long prime tv show. Our webcomic has an androgynous Player with anger management issues play the super strong stripper Niki. A wishy-washy, ethically mindful Player portrays Mohinder. A pair of fourth wall breaking pranksters portray the time traveling duo, Hiro and Ando. Finally, Peter(?) players none other than… Peter Petrelli! These gamers are participants in the Tim’s, the DM’s, play test of an experimental new game system he’s worked on with a friend. They are the kind of extreme personality types that our Gaming Group would attract. It is a recipe for hilarious hijinks, conflict, and confusion!
GWI ran for three months before the first Azureloudnoise server failed. During that time, I experimented with Twitter, using it to promote the comic, whilst posting sample strips on various web forums. I also learned the very basics of comic writing. Yutaka learned a lot about Photoshop as we spent hours getting down the look and design of each strip. We eventually settled on multi-colored dialogue boxes to represent the cross-talk and banter that occurs at the game table. Unlike Darths and Droids, Tim’s Group isn’t above cutting each other off or finishing each other’s sentences. Each strip would include notes from the creators. Inspired by Penny Arcade, we took on the avatars of Hiro and Ando’s Players. For three months, we were badass webcomic creators.
Since then yutaka and I have both found employment, but we still want to write another webcomic on another Azureloudnoise server. So, maybe sometime in the near future, you might read another online comic respectively designed and written by yutakabareru and me. Until then, read Darths and Droids and enjoy the samples of Game without Initials.