More from one of the most innovative comics on the Internet in a post that’s a retype of a post I lost, so it may be shorter than it would have been.

(From Darths and Droids. Click for full-sized sunset.)

What little name I have I owe to Darths and Droids (and David Morgan-Mar in general), so perhaps I owe it to that strip to take another look at it.

I mentioned in my two previous reviews of Darths and Droids that the Comic Irregulars were willing to explore the possibilities of the “RPG screencap comic” much more than its inspiration, DM of the Rings, and broaden people’s horizons in the process.

Well, it appears they’ve done it again, because in the past few strips they’ve adopted a fairly radical new convention that they’ve only acknowledged in the annotation for today’s strip. They’ve adopted a “show-don’t-tell” policy for settings we can see but which the GM must describe to the players. In those cases, the GM’s description is omitted, and we only see, well, what we can see.

It’s sort of jarring that we’re no longer privy to every single thing the players and GM say, and it points to a general problem with RPGs. In the last panel of today’s strip, the sunset itself is stunning by any definition, but Ben’s comment, by necessity, is in reference not to the sunset itself, but to the GM’s description of the sunset. In an RPG, there could be the most brilliant landscape in the world if the players could see it, but no matter how brilliant it is they cannot; they can only attest to the GM’s description of it. Should the GM get a sheet of paper and draw the image he wants the players to see? The obvious answer is no; no drawing could do it justice unless the GM was Rembrandt, and if he was then it would take a year’s worth of sessions to get through a single battle, so that the GM could get enough time for his drawings.

(Okay, that paragraph was a lot better in the version I lost earlier. This would never happen if I had a real Internet connection.)

I don’t think DM of the Rings could have done something like this, because several times in that strip the players directly riff off the DM’s descriptions. I recall at least one strip (which I’m not looking up because, again, I still don’t have a real Internet connection) where the players enter a place, look around, and realize the only course of action is to go back the way they came. If that strip had been done as a series of images of the surrounding landscape followed by the characters deciding to turn around and go back, it would have lost much of its impact (as opposed to today’s Darths and Droids, which would have lost much of its impact if we had been privy to the GM’s descriptions) and its importance to what little metaplot DMotR had. An important part of DMotR was the conflict between the DM and the players; take away the DM’s descriptions and you take away an important part of the strip.

As I said in my earlier review, DM of the Rings was a comic about a role-playing game, while Darths and Droids is a comic about Star Wars. Darths and Droids can get away with omitting scenery descriptions because it’s about the scenery, not the descriptions. Nonetheless, there are still pitfalls with this approach, and I hope Darths and Droids can manage to avoid them.

Now THIS is how you pimp your book!

(From The Order of the Stick. Click for full-sized sexy context.)

If I commented every time OOTS moved me to comment on a strip you could use my webcomic label to find out whenever there was a new strip, so I try to shy away from doing that.

But the last two panels of this strip? I’m going to reiterate what I said on the strip’s forums: Best. Recap strip. EVER.

Also, while I’m here, I’d like to take this opportunity to comment on a tendency I’ve noticed on the OOTS forums to treat the events of the two prequel books, especially the more recent and more revolutionary (for lack of a better word) Start of Darkness, as virtually common knowledge. Granted, part of that is me looking at the spoiler tags that contain the prequel-rooted information, but many people seem (or at least seemed in the past) to base predictions on the events of the prequel books, while forgetting that Rich is on record as saying the prequels are not necessary to enjoy the overall story.

In that context, I’d like to take a brief look at the previous strip, and suggest that Rich may have erred, “prequels not necessary to enjoy the story” or otherwise. The cliffhanger only really has resonance for someone who has read On the Origin of PCs or has had relevant parts already spoiled for him or her. For someone in neither category, they may be able to infer that the Thieves’ Guild is bad news and may even be able to draw a connection to Haley from the accompanying caption, but that’s probably too much thought to really go “dun dun DUN!!!”

Still, for this bounce-back? If the Eric Burns of 2004-2006 were here, he’d give this man a biscuit of some virtual variety.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 8/2-3

All times PDT.

11-1:30 PM: Little League Baseball, Big League World Series (ESPN). Yep, it’s Little League World Series season again! And August is only now starting…

3-6 PM: NFL Football, Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (ESPN/NFL Network). Art Monk is the only interesting guy in the class and he should have gone in a few years ago. Wasn’t Cris Carter supposed to be a lock this year back in 2004? And now, a brief acknowledgement of the X Games…

6-8 PM: Action Sports, X Games 14 (ESPN). …that was it.

10-12 PM: LPGA Golf, Women’s British Open, final round (ABC). Gets the nod over the PGA event below because it’s a major and the Bridgestone isn’t (ditto for valuing the US Senior Open over the Bridgestone). Would get the nod over the US Senior Open, if there were an actual conflict, because I actually consider the LPGA the top level of competion for its gender-sport combination. Golf Channel covering the final round of the McDonald’s LPGA notwithstanding. Grr. (Incidentially, I was amazed to find out this only became a major in 2001. What was the fourth major before then? The event now known as the Canadian Women’s Open. Canada was once important enough to hold a major? And back then it had the rather dense name of “du Maurier Classic”…)

12-3 PM: Champions Tour Golf, US Senior Open (NBC). Wait, the senior tour has two majors in a row?

Honorable Mention: 11-3 PM: PGA Golf, WGC Bridgestone Invitational, final round (CBS). Jesus Christ, all three original major networks have huge golf tournaments on this weekend! They have an event this big right before a major? Well, at least it’s not two majors in a row like the senior tour. And the PGA Championship isn’t the only big event next week, even with the Olympics starting…

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, Philadelphia @ St. Louis (ESPN). Because I haven’t had my Recommended Daily Allowance of major sports yet. And I’m not even mentioning the NFL Hall of Fame Game. I have a moratorium on NFL preseason games.