This is the character page for Knights of the Dinner Table.
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The Knights of the Dinner Table
The eponymous gaming group. The Knights were first formed when the players were still young, and the charter has a long storied history. The original Gamemaster was Brian who at one point was running sessions for different sub-chapters of the group every night of the week (typically the same adventure but tweaked for each different group) until Brian suffered a nervous breakdown and handed the game over to Weird Pete. Eventually, Pete left and B.A. took over and after a couple of subsequent player rotations, the group ended up where it is today. The first comic strips are set shortly after Dave joins the group and Johnny Kizinski quits - so the first strips depict B.A., Bob, Dave and Brian. Sara joined up shortly afterward, giving the group the line-up which it has had through most of the comic's history.The Knights are a respected "name level" gaming group in Muncie and regularly compete in tournaments with the larger Muncie gaming community. Like most of the other groups, they are very passionate about their game and take it seriously, having among them some of the area's best players.
- Berserk Button: They're all prone to temper but when the players are pissed off with B.A., they tend to tie him up, blindfold him and suspend him upside down above the table. He still generally thinks whatever he did to deserve it was worth the consequences.
- The Knights have been known to routinely put each other in the hospital over in-game infractions, and even Sara has been known to punch out other members of the group if they go too far. If somebody who isn't a member of the Knights tries to throw down or actually hurts a member of the team, however, God help him.
- Flat Character: In the early installments. Each of the original Knights was whatever the strip called for, but once the series shifted from single episode strips to ongoing story arcs, the Knights each took on their familiar personalities.
- If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: Unless there's a protege to pass the stuff on to, which is the usual assumption.
- Serious Business: The root of a lot of the comedy. Having the game every week is serious business. Dice are serious business. In-game revenge is serious business... and so on.
- Slapstick: Obviously the violence at the game table is comically over the top. Although the creator has claimed he's had such fights at his table.
B.A. (Boris Alphonzo) FeltonThe current Gamemaster and host. B.A. is a timid individual who still lives with his mother and works as an assistant manager at a local Pizza chain. Nearly all his spare time is spent crafting the "perfect" adventure, which proves an act in futility early in the series run but got better when he grew a backbone and adapted to the habits of his players. While readers are quick to pick up on the players' tendency to derail the game with Hack and Slash, they're slow to notice that B.A. often encourages it. In his campaign, sometimes the old man begging for coins really is a 10th level monk able to summon an army of beggars. His most notorious NPCs are Red Gurdy Pickens, a rough and tumble antagonist who just won't die and whom B.A. likes to pull out on occasion to rattle the Knights, and Jonid Coincrawler, a trickster gnome with a track record of bilking the Knights out of their loot.
- Adorkable: It doesn’t show as much when he’s behind the screen, but it’s never more apparent than on his quasi-dates with Patty.
- Beware the Nice Ones: BA is typically very timid but still can show a mean streak in game and has occasional moments of brilliance.
- Butt-Monkey: B.A.'s initial relationship with his group was about one step away from battered spouse syndrome. Even in more recent years, a large proportion of the story arcs end with him staring dumbstruck, destroying the campaign himself, or re-tooling his entire story in a desperate effort to save it. Quite often, this leads to accusations of railroading.
- Cannot Talk to Women: This really shows when he’s having dinner with Patty. Amusingly, he’s fine as long as they’re talking about something game-related.
- Honest Rolls Character: A gnome named Tar Markvar, one of B.A.'s last and most fondly remembered (by him) player characters from before he took over the game.
- Railroading: Has occasionally been guilty of this but gets accused of it far more often than its actually true. In one egregious example, the heroes were forcibly teleported to a castle, given a quest, and then teleported to the start point before they could engage in disruptive behavior in the castle. They then had to follow the only path in an otherwise impenetrable forest to the dungeon.
- Although It Makes Sense in Context - the last few times B.A. had started his adventures with the heroes receiving a mission directly from a king, their immediate response was to attack the king and take all his stuff. After the fifth or sixth adventure crashed and burned during the prologue, B.A. resorted to the method described above. Astoundingly, the lesson seems to have sunk in.
Bob HerzogDescribed in his character bios as the first "dues paying" member of the Knights, Bob is a hardcore dedicated hack and slash gamer known for his quick temper and relentless dedication to the game (and considering that gaming is already Serious Business in Muncie, that's saying something). While his in game Catch Phrase is "I waste 'em with my crossbow," his out-of-game motto is "the game must go on." Throughout the series, Bob has told every lie, shirked every responsibility and pulled every trick he can think of to escape any responsibilities and/or entanglements keeping him away from the game table. This has estranged him more than once from his father and cost him a respectable job as a claims adjuster. He currently works at Weird Pete's game shop, where he gets paid strictly in game product, which he barters with for some basic necessities (read: more game product), but it's his girlfriend Sheila Horowitz who holds down an actual paying job and pays their bills. He tends to prefer playing dwarven thieves wielding crossbows, his best-known being a family line all named Knuckles.
- Berserk Button: Don't touch his dice.
- Jerkass: Not to the extent of Stevil, but still there.
- Playing Sick: Bob often resorted to this tactic to avoid his job responsibilities. His irresponsible attitude eventually cost him his job and got him kicked out by his father.
- Random Number God: If such a deity existed, Bob would be its high priest in Muncie. More than the others, he carefully tracks his dice and has names and personalities assigned to them.
- The Slacker: Blows off any and all responsibilities that interfere with gaming.
- Stay in the Kitchen: Seemed to be his attitude towards Sara early on, now inverted living with Sheila. Because she brings home the real paycheck, their home scenes usually show her reading a newspaper in a recliner and him in an apron.
- The Real Man: Somewhat the way Bob plays all his characters. When playing a dwarven thief, he wields a crossbow and tends to keep on hand a collection of specialized magic bolts for different occasions and he brooks no insult to his honor often to his detriment.
Brian VanHooseFormer Gamemaster turned player, Brian is a painfully shy recluse away from the gaming table. He lives partly on an inheritance from his uncle and partly on revenues from miniatures painting, PC repairs, eBay trading, and extreme frugality. At the table, he's a savant. He has near perfect memory of all rules and revisions to the game, and is a master of advanced gaming tactics. Brian is able to pull off brilliant maneuvers at the game table and is the single most likely player to turn B.A.'s adventures to his personal advantage (though the other Knights have gotten wise to it). Brian has shown signs at different times of being slightly unhinged, from having an imaginary girlfriend to doing his adventure prep with dolls. He usually plays Dwarven wizards from the Lotus clan, the most well known being nicknamed "Teflon Billy."
- Berserk Button: Don't mention his imaginary girlfriend. In this and other instances he has been prone to flipping the table though more recently the Knights have called him out on it and apparently he's had to go to anger management counseling offscreen.
- Big Eater: For instance, he caused the group to lose its refrigerator privileges at B.A.'s house by eating a casserole that was meant to feed a dozen people at an upcoming family reunion.
- Cannot Talk to Women / Cannot Spit It Out: So badly that even B.A. pities him. Brian is terrible at talking to women about anything not game-related, to the point where Sheila gets revenge on him by locking him in a room with Felicia Day.
- The Chessmaster: Oh, so much.
- Crazy-Prepared: Both in and out of game. For example, he swallows a ring of teleportation every morning and has copies of his most essential spells tattooed on the backs of his teammates. Out of game, in order to be prepared for the possibility of one of his characters acquiring a wish, he hired a paralegal to help him draft an ironclad multipage wish containing clauses and precise wording to account for any way a Jerkass Genie might try to screw him over. In the end, B.A. and an entire team of his fellow Gamemasters couldn't find a loophole to deny him his wish but his new immortal status made it legal for a deity he'd pissed off to destroy him. Even then a clause in the wish undid all of the consequences of the wish and gave him a 25,000 gold piece consolation prize.
- The Dreaded: He has earned quite a reputation in the gaming community.
- Girlfriend in Canada: As noted above, challenging him on this point is his Berserk Button, so the other Knights avoid mentioning the issue unless one of them is being particularly stupid.
- He's actually got two of them. There's a Christmas strip where the Knights are discussing their holiday plans, and Brian insists that he'll be spending Christmas with his uncle, out of town. At the end of the strip, we see his actual holiday plans: he's alone at his house, eating popcorn and watching a James Bond marathon on basic cable.
- Jerk Ass: Played with. In general, away from the table, Brian is endearingly loyal to his gaming buddies, unless of course we're talking about Prowler. In-game he is essentially a Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk played for comedy.
- Pet the Dog: Even in game, his characters show lots of sympathy to animals. B.A. even exploited this with Hannibal the violent pack ape.
- Rules Lawyer: One of the clearest examples in fiction.
- Shrinking Violet: If not with his friends and away from game, he withdraws completely into himself.
- The Scrooge: One could say he is Min-Maxing his finances.
- The Stoic: B.A. notes that Brian is a very difficult person to read, seeming largely impassive except for a harsh belly-laugh when he throws a fireball at a target he knows he can crush, when he Mood Whiplashes into a Table Flipping rage, or incoherent blubbering when he has to talk to a girl outside a gaming context.
- Too Clever by Half: Usually when Brian's plans fail, it's because of this. He tries to squeeze every advantage out of a situation and will eventually forget an obscure rule or variable (or leave his friends out.)
- Xanatos Gambit: Has one for every situation imaginable. He also seems to live by the creed that if the party cannot win, Lotus WILL at least gain some benefits from their defeat.
Sara FeltonAn accomplished roleplayer even before joining the Knights, Sara was invited to the table because she is B.A.'s cousin. This, and the fact that she's, well, a woman made her a hard sell at the Knights table. It didn't help that when they wanted to slaughter Orcs, she wanted to parley with them. After a lot of conflict in the early strips, Sara has grown to accept the group and they in turn accepted her.
- Berserk Button: Sexist remarks and unwanted flirting will quickly earn you a threatening shirt grab and, if you don't learn your lesson, a black eye.
- Closer to Earth: At least until other characters were introduced. She was the straight woman to the idiocy of the male players.
- The Chick: Played with. Although she's far more compassionate toward NPCs than the doofuses at her table, Sara herself has been known to show a mean streak. She's often visibly amused when one of the other characters suffers the consequences of their actions.
- Cross Playing: She forced this on the Knights early in the series leading to the creation of a monster in the form of Boberella. She also chose to play a male character when B.A. pushed the group to create new ones outside their usual race/class template.
- Friend to All Children: Sara always seems to get on pretty well with children (like the Pee Wee Hack Master League). Except for the two 13-year olds at Gary Con, that is.
- Not So Above It All: Even Sara takes dice superstitions seriously. As you'll see from the entry for Random Number God on the main page, she's probably wise to do so. She's also occasionally been known to turn "evil" (i.e. against the group) to dole out righteous retribution against the other Knights, once or twice becoming the antagonist for a story arc.
- The Roleplayer: To the point of occasionally being Ms. "Stop Having Fun" Guys in the earlier strips, but these days she tends to just create characters who's natural inclinations fit better with her adventuring party, as most good roleplayers do.
Dave BozwellThe naive newcomer of the group though only the second newest member of the group behind Sara. Dave was brought in by Bob back in their college days and immediately took to playing fighters with the biggest swords he can get his hands on. Typically the Ditz, Dave has his moments of brilliance and the writers have explained that he's actually not that dumb, he's just really laid back. Dave's iconic character is a fighter named El Ravager with a Hackmaster +12 sword.
- Bad Liar: He has no poker face whatsoever. This actually becomes a plot point when Bob and Dave want to conceal their in-game plans from Brian and Sara - Dave actually has to wear a paper bag on his head so they can't glean anything from his expression.
- BFS: His Hack Master +12, of course. When introduced to the game in ages past, Dave's very first comment was "I want a big-ass sword!".
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: He’s admittedly an idiot, but when he committed fully to running a magic-user (and started paying Brian for lessons), he started learning frighteningly fast. He also shows shades of this when running a straight fighter – say what you will, he knows how to kick ass.
- The Real Man: Dave is frequently Bob's partner-in-crime in this department.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Dave can understand Squirrely. Of course, Squirrely is unusually intelligent but he doesn't speak english.
- Unfazed Everyman: Of all of the Knights, Dave is the one with the least baggage and has the most interests that don't relate directly back to role-playing games. He can be just as nuts as Bob at times, but has also been seen watching basketball and having normal relationships with his family.
The Black Hands
Once the Knights stopped being simple gamer stereotypes and started being actual characters, the KODT writers began to introduce other gamer groups to be able to explore funny gamer situations that just wouldn't happen at the Knights table. The first was the Black Hands.Another group to gain a lot of focus within the KODT strips to the point where each issue now usually features an ongoing strip with them and they've had their own miniseries. The group consists mostly of preestablished characters with everyone aside from Stevil getting at least a mention prior to the introduction of the Black Hands group. Their main distinctive feature is that they play together because nobody else will have them, so five difficult personalities get together each week and try to tolerate each other long enough to get through a game.
- Humiliation Conga: Pulled on each other whenever possible. Institutionalized with the "Hubcap of Shame."
- If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: Unlike the Knights, rights of inheritance are not respected.
- Medal of Dishonor: Any member who embarrasses the group or gamers in general is required to wear "The Hubcap of Shame". Even Nitro is bound by this practice.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The only reason the Hands game together is no other group will have them.
- We ARE Struggling Together: The main challenge of the group is hold back their irritation with each other long enough to do anything useful in the game.
Victor "Nitro" FergusonAn unorthodox GM known for his edgy and weird gaming experiments. Nitro is a former drill sergeant and brings that mentality to the table. He's twice run a live action dungeon crawl in the steam tunnels beneath the local university and once trapped and imprisoned a group of gamers to run a wargame scenario, getting him banned from sanctioned play. He and Bob still have a bit of bad blood over the oft referenced incident where Bob threw salt in his eyes and hit him with a dinner tray (the man touched his dice.)
- Ascended Extra: As with many of the Knights' secondary characters, Nitro was referred to long before he actually appeared in the comic. Nowadays, after the core five and Weird Pete, he's probably the character who appears most.
- Black and Nerdy: You could be forgiven for not knowing this unless you've spotted Nitro on a cover or in one of the rare colorized strips, but he's black.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: At least early on. He's still tough on his group but has softened a bit.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Nitro's game-mastering style was bizarre in his first few appearances.
- Nitro: A hole opens up in the floor and somebody rises into view. You realize that it's Andy Warhol. He's accompanied by a panda bear wearing a set of Bermuda shorts made out of an old Nazi flag.
- Word of God is that those early Nitro strips stem from a real-life encounter with a guy nicknamed 'Nitro' when the author was desperate to get into a D&D game. It turned out he wasn't desperate enough to put up with THAT.
- Establishing Character Moment: When he first enters the comic, even before he enters the panel, he immediately sets the tone:
- Jerkass: He is frequently very harsh and abrasive, particularly when he's in Drill Sergeant Nasty mode, but one especially notable moment is when he gets invited into B.A.'s game as a guest NPC. He then manipulated Dave into betraying the rest of the party. After a huge battle, everybody in the game, a game that was running for years, was dead and without any chance to come back or continue the story. The entire table was dismayed. Nitro just got up and said "Looks like my work here is through".
Weird Pete AshtonA partner with Gary Jackson during the transition of Hackmaster from wargame to rpg, Gary bought him out shortly before Hackmaster went to press and he used the money to open Weird Pete's Game Pit. The Black Hand's game takes place in his back room. Naturally, being a merchant in a struggling industry that is also his primary way of making friends, all his relationships are complicated by the financial matters surrounding the hobby. When behind the screen, he's a grouchy old school Killer GM.
- Drunk with Power: Any kind of power seems to go to Weird Pete's head. He becomes a petty tyrant when running a campaign (or even just sitting in as a temporary GM on someone else's) - handing outmerits at the drop of a hat for infringing rules he has just made up - and he runs the Gamers Court as a Hanging Judge.
- Everything Is Trying to Kill You: His campaign setting (no doubt inspired by early Gygax material) is so difficult to survive in that nobody has ever made it past third level.
- Honest John's Dealership: Often fast-talks customers (usually B.A.) into buying whatever he's trying to unload at the moment, regardless of its quality or usefulness.
- Killer GM: Moreso than the others. And he's always eager to get behind the screen again when the trauma of the previous campaign has healed.
- Nitro: "Actually, I was just thinking he's mellowed. In the old days, he didn't give warnings."
Stevil Van HostleAlso known as "Bitter Stevil." Stevil is a prickly individual who unleashes pent up office frustrations at the game table. He has to commute from Indianapolis to gaming nights, leading to his frequent complaint "I can't believe I drove forty frickin' miles for THIS!" Newt has rubbed him the wrong way from day one, leading to an escalating vengeance war between them.
- Catch Phrase: "I can't believe I drove forty fricking miles for this!"
- The Chessmaster: The "loan arrangement" he made with Newt (which involved a contract with fine print and a gawd oath) to make Newt his permanent slave. He eventually gets Out-Gambitted though.
- The Comically Serious: Even in universe. The whole reason Nitro decides to let Newt stay is because he likes how Newt treats Stevil. But the crowning example comes during their Cattlepunk game when Stevil is forced to wear a giant sombrero. He is not happy about this.
- Deadpan Snarker: And a vicious one at that.
- Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Stevil may seem like a total Jerk Ass, but as you get to know him better, you realize that deep, deep down, he really is a total Jerk Ass.
- Kick the Dog: Drew complaints of this early on as he tended to pick on Newt a lot with little provocation, but Newt more than makes up for it by arranging bail for everyone BUT Stevil later on.Stevil: That big guy in holding cell three made me dance for twenty hours straight!
- Only Sane Man: Oddly Stevil seems to fill this role for the Black Hands, especially when it comes to dealing with situations outside of gaming. His reaction to listening a bunch of gamers planning to invest in gold (in the real world) is priceless.
- Pet the Dog: In his kinder moments, Stevil seems to regard Nitro or Pete (whichever of them is not GMing) as a partner against the real enemies; Newt and the GM.
- The Smart Guy: He may be an unrepentant Jerkass, but there's no denying his intelligence. He's come up with some pretty devious plans over the years, at one point point even beating the Temple of Horrendous Doom!
Gordo SheckberryA former chemist on permanent disability after getting in an accident at work. Between workers' comp and disability, Gordo now has all the time and money he needs to dedicate himself to gaming. Gordo is obnoxious in a very different way than the rest of the Black Hands: he's a dedicated deep-immersion role player with a vast fund of long, rambling character stories; a "frightening" mastery of fairy lore; and a complete inability to sense the comfort zones of his fellow gamers.
- Camp Straight: His orientation is pretty ambiguous, though in one strip he does discuss his 'dream woman' with some of the other Black Hands.
- Cross Player: The trope that embodied Gordo till Character Development ensued. His introduction was as an off panel reference to what happens to players that crossplay (as the Knights were about to have to.)
- Nice Guy: He is one of the most genuinely nice characters in the entire comic. Even being constantly picked on by the other players makes him more upset than angry.
- The Roleplayer: Gordo embodies some of the more negative aspects of the trope: he has a long history of creating ineffective characters and placing their welfare ahead of the group's.
Newt ForagerProbably the youngest of the series regular characters. Newt still lives at home and is in college. He was introduced as a temporary replacement for Bob, where he made his mark by killing the other players' characters in their sleep and looting their bodies to stock up for another campaign he really wanted to play in. Apparently, this type of behavior continued until the first Black Hands strip where he showed up desperate to finally be accepted into a group (the Black Hands being his last chance). Nitro decided to keep him because he liked how Newt rattled Stevil.
- Angst: He is in love with this trope as applied to his characters. Just one of the many things Stevil hates about him.Stevil: (as Newt is about to introduce his latest character): Ooh, let me guess. Does he haunt the night? Is Death his only companion? Does he crave vengeance?
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder
- Darker and Edgier: The other trope he loves to use with his characters.
- The Munchkin: Moreso than any other player, yet strangely he's also The Roleplayer. He'll take any opportunity to kill and steal from his teammates, though he's settled down some as he knows this table is his last chance at a regular campaign.
- Ninja Looter: Compulsively. He was first introduced as one of these. Nitro has him on a leash but he tugs at it constantly.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Frequently tries to suck up to Nitro with superficial praise of his GMing (but doesn't let up on the annoying munchkin behaviors that make Nitro's job harder). Nitro isn't impressed.
The makers of most of the games played in the Muncie community, most notably Hackmaster. Hard 8 is loosely based on TSR, and when Hackmaster was first published in real life, all but the first foreword was written as though the Hard 8 characters were the ones writing it. Though regularly featured, the interactions between this set of characters and the Knights are infrequent and almost always indirect.
- Author Appeal: Not so much in the early days, when the comic strip was appearing in the backs of other publishers' magazines, but in the years since Knights of the Dinner Table and KenzerCo became associated, strips about the pitfalls of making games have replaced Hard 8's earlier function of introducing inexplicably bad products and gouging gamers for paid-by-the-minute phone support.
- Expy: Hard 8 itself is an expy of TSR, but the games they produce are also typically expies of real life products Hackmaster (Dungeons & Dragons), World of Hackcraft (take a wild guess), and Spelljacked (The similarly ill-fated Spellfire CCG) being some of the most common.
- Honest John's Dealership: As noted above, many of the early Hard 8 storylines showed them cranking out questionable products and using every trick in the book to squeeze money out of gamers and game store owners.
Gary JacksonThe analog for Gary Gygax (with the surname of Steve Jackson). Showed to be a gambler with a fly by the seat of his pants approach to running his company and publishing new game products. After his apparent death in a plane crash, he became a sort of larger than life legend, made still larger recently when it was revealed he's not dead. Currently he's using another company to buy out products being held and (he feels) ruined by his wife who has been running the company in trust for his son.
- The Ace: Filled this role during the time he spent apparently dead as the Hard 8 staff would often fondly recall Gary's fly by the seat of his pants style of management.
- Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Thinks of himself as a brilliant businessman; extremely self-confident; prone to giving his employees "bonuses" by unloading items he can't sell on them and calling them "bonuses".
JoJo ZekeSecond in command who became the man to run the show on site after Jackson's death. Zeke, like Jackson cares passionately about Hackmaster and the work he puts into it. After Gary's death, he was shown being worn to the core by the demands of Heidi Jackson until he finally quit.
- The Dragon: Oddly, whether Gary or Heidi is in charge of the company, JoJo gravitates to the position of second-in-command.
- Hero of Another Story: JoJo is the only Hard 8 character who shows up regularly in Muncie to interact with the regular cast. This is because one of his many duties is putting an end to crises... and the gamers in Muncie tend to create crises. They're his biggest headache.
- Except possibly the rogue gamer chapters out in Idaho.
"Waco" Bob ForseyThe old man of the group. During Gary's tenure as head of the company, Bob got along largely by agreeing with everything Gary said. This may have been the reason he was the first to get fired when Heidi took over. Tuley quietly organized a campaign where the other employees took a pay cut to get him re-hired.
- Yes-Man: As noted, all he ever did at Hard 8 staff meetings was agree with Gary Jackson's pronouncements. According to the cast list, his playtest reports described every newly developed game as "the next Hack Master".
Pete "Skip" SkipowskiA college buddy of Gary Jackson's who became a game designer for Hard 8 when the company was formed.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: At one point when JoJo was unavailable, Skip was sent to deal with the latest "problem in Muncie".
Edmund FinleyA younger game designer for the company, his pet project was a game called "Abe, Babes and Roller Blades," described as a "sexy, zany, time-travelling romp through history and fashion."
Tuley PriswinkleFor a long time, Tuley was the company's unpaid customer service representative, under the impression that he was playtesting a virtual corporation computer game. He eventually became a regular employee and even sat in the boardroom for a while during Heidi's tenure.
- Ascended Fanboy
- Becoming the Mask: He eventually figured out the ruse but continued to "play" the "game" because it was fun. Shortly after that, he became an actual employee.
Timmy JacksonThe son and heir of Gary Jackson. Gary used to let Timmy create material for the game in an egregious example of nepotism (the kid was eight, and it showed in his work). After Gary's death, Heidi sent him off to military school, where he discovered football and girls and decided roleplaying games were uncool.
- God-Mode Sue: In-Universe: When GMing the final round of the grudge match arc, he arbitrarily threw monsters and damage at the players. They managed to beat him by using the same tactic right back at him, causing him to break down and leave the table crying, giving the players a default win.
- Nepotism: Gary Jackson let him write Hard 8 supplements. The results were about what you would expect from an eight-year-old who doesn't know what he's doing.
Heidi JacksonGary's ex-wife and the runner of a successful paperback publishing company. Gary left Hard 8 to his son Timmy but the company is being held in trust till he turns 18 leaving Heidi to run the company as the trustee. She clearly has an axe to grind with her deceased ex but also is (presumably) trying to protect her son's legacy and make it profitable. Problem is, Hard 8 had always been a labor of love whereas Heidi expects the company to perform like hers does. This is pretty clearly a nod to Lorraine Williams (though not a direct parody) who was part of a business deal that took DnD from Gary Gygax and played a role in the failure of TSR. She also released a new edition of Hackmaster, the only details for which seemed to match up with 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons from real life.
- Bad Boss: Not incompetent, she was simply mean to the Hard 8 staff, constantly cutting their budget and involving herself overly in aspects of the process she didn't really understand.
- Dragon Lady: Referred to as such, though she's not asian and only metaphorically fits the type.
- Executive Meddling: After finally playing a session of Hackmaster, she decided lots of changes needed to be made, which basically ruined the game. Based on the protests, the game has some superficial resemblance to the initial release of fourth edition Dungeons & Dragons.
The third name level gaming group to gain continual focus in the strips. The group is known for its eclectic group of hardcases, people who mostly wouldn't fit in with normal society or even other gamers in many places. Like the other gamemasters, Patti has her quirks which include a swear jar, a time out corner, and the use of M & M's to track experience points, all of which come from Patti's background as a school teacher.
Patty GauzweilerThe Gamemaster. Patty is a school teacher who hosts games in her trailer and tends to take in lost souls or anyone who looks like they need some mothering. This, perhaps, explains why she was shown in her earliest appearances relentlessly pursuing Dave to resume the relationship they once had. Patty is also the Gamemaster for the local but seldom shown Ladies of Hack group consisting of most of the regular female characters. Though she has a basically good heart, Patty is also a master of the evil situation, once manipulating her group's entire party into jumping into a lava pit just so she could win a bet with the other Gamemasters in town.
- '80s Hair
- Friend to All Children: She seems to adore and be adored by all of Muncie’s kids.
- Informed Attractiveness: She's supposed to be quite attractive, but drawing attractive women isn't really Jolly's strong point. Her appearance is kind of an artifact; later 'pretty girl' characters are drawn more attractively, but changing Patty's model might make the character unrecognizable.
- Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Patty actually is a kindergarten teacher. However, she has difficulties turning the attitude off and ends up treating her gaming group like a bunch of preschoolers, including a "Time Out Corner" with "5 points to ponder".
- Given the way some gamers act in this comic, treating them like preschoolers might be giving them too much credit.
- Team Mom: All up and down the line, she cares for her group very much but also disciplines them like her students.
Chad AguilarA long time member of the group. Though Chad fits in socially as a college student, he started gaming in middle school where his munchkin tendencies kept him away from other gaming tables leading Patty to take him in. Today, he's more the team spitfire, easily irritated but a bit more mature as a player. Recently, Chad has been bringing his pacifist fiancee Reese to the table; she's more than a little disturbed by all the violence in these games.
- Closet Geek: Chad was very, very reluctant to reveal his hobby to Reese - to the point of hiring Trish to impersonate her when the group insisted on being allowed to meet 'Reese'.
- Satellite Character: He's less flawed, and therefore less amusing: he doesn't get much screen time of his own.
Eddie "Tank" RodriguezPretty much the embodiment of the modern gamer geek stereotype, Tank is a large, obese, hairy, timid, thoughtful man who is awkward around women (even by KODT standards.) He's gentle to the point of being an emotional doormat for the rest of the group. For a long time, the only other character he was known to associate with outside of the Perps was Trish, from the Ladies of Hack. This was expanded slightly by the Java Joint spinoff strip, which showed him in a book club with Patty and Sara.
- Gentle Giant
- Platonic Prostitution: He hired Trish to game with him. She enjoyed it enough to join the Ladies of Hack and came to like Tank enough to give him gifts that probably offset most of what she was paid.
Leslie "Crutch" HumphriesAn ex-con gone straight. Crutch met the Black Hands when they decided to game at Hawg Wallers. Crutch and others around thought the Hands were planning a bank heist (in fact, they were playing a Western RPG and were plotting to rob a bank in-game). After spending a few nights in jail with the Black Hands over this misunderstanding, Crutch fell in love with gaming and began seeking gaming groups. Unfortunately, his enthusiasm for Hack and Slash extended to killing other player's characters at the table so he couldn't find a group until BA directed him to Patty, who has made him her latest project. He has recently become a surprise hit G Ming "Crime Nation," bringing realistic grittiness into his game thanks to his personal experience in crime.
- All Bikers Are Hells Angels: A hulking, brutish ex-con motorcyclist.
- Breakout Character: He's become one of the most popular characters; he's the oddball who can't quite fit into an otherwise fairly well-adjusted group.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Has mostly recovered from this but even to this day he charges for the healing his cleric "Friar Swayze" doles out.
- Embarrassing First Name: Leslie.
- Heel–Face Turn: When introduced, he's an ex-con who still seems willing to engage in criminal behavior but he makes an earnest effort to go straight for his old lady and eventually becomes an honorable Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- The turning point comes when he winds up locked up in prison with the Black Hands and insists on playing the Western RPG Cattlepunk. These were his earliest days in the hobby, so the Black Hands spent most of their time rolling up new characters and trying to avoid being gunned down by Crutch for their starting money - even Stevil.
- Killer Gamemaster: He couldn't get accredited to run Hackmaster, but found his niche running an old gang-violence RPG called Crime Nation. The body count is so high that even Weird Pete thinks it's high. A lot of cast usually found at other tables have turned up at Crutch's Crime Nation game, apparently for love of the challenge.
MoA middle aged widow/ex-housewife living off life insurance and inheritance, Mo met Patty volunteering at an after school program and was excited about trying out Hackmaster. At the table, she's very outspoken and blunt but nice, which makes it all the more surprising when she kicks your teeth in and steals your loot.
Ladies of Hack
An all-female gaming group that meets separately from the male-dominated Muncie gaming community (though nearly all of them have other groups they play with regularly and for tournament purposes). They're also part of a larger organization of the same name that lobbies Hard 8 and the Hack Master Players' Association to change the sexist depictions of women and some of the more chauvinistic rules (such as the Strength penalty for female characters.) The local group is run by Patty Gauzweiler. Although the Lo H are only rarely shown actually gaming, their membership includes most of the strip's prominent female gamers, including Sara, Patty, and several others.
Sheila HorowitzFirst mentioned offscreen as the female gamer who beat up B.A. over an in-game dispute, Sheila didn't become an on-screen character for a long time. For a while she was nearly a nemesis of the Knights: then she rather unexpectedly started dating Bob - partly out of admiration for Bob's commitment to the game and partly because he needs mothering. Tends to play Knight Errants.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Played straight most of the time: subverted when she wound up dating Bob, of all people.
- The Real Man: Gender-flipped. Possibly the only thing she and Bob have in common: they're there to kill things.
- Sitcom Arch Enemy: Has been this to B.A. and to Sara, but nowadays she regards her feud with Brian as Serious Business.
- Tsundere Used to game with the Knights until B.A. accused her of cheating and they got in a fist fight. Sheila was the big reason the Knights were leery about letting Sara join the group.
Bridget KeatingFirst introduced when the Knights players one by one get caught up in a Vampire LARP. Bridget was a clan leader and tended to use her *ahem* assets and her willingness to Cosplay along with her clan authority to get the guys to do whatever she wanted. Though she's calmed down she's still almost always seen in some kind of sexy cosplay outfit.
- Art Shift: Most strongly in early appearances. She's still drawn a lot less googly-eyed and scribble-fingered than the rest of the cast.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Most of the time, though hilariously subverted when she tried to charm her way past a Knight Templar guarding the door at Gary Con.
- The Vamp
TrishAn escort introduced to gaming by Tank. Basically nice.
- High-Class Call Girl
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Technically an escort with a heart of gold. She's nice to Tank and even stands up for him to his friends. Later, she buys him some really nice gaming merchandise which, to judge Weird Pete's reaction, offset a good chunk of what Tank paid for her services.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Sort of. There was a lot of head-scratching in Muncie when Trish started showing up in public with Tank and appeared to be dating him.
Squirrely (aka Squire Lee)A chimp formerly used as a military research subject, who wound up being adopted by Weird Pete. He seems to have a solid grasp of spoken English, the ability to read and operate a cash register (although he's never mastered the art of making change), and has even sat in on games. He's a chain-smoker with a wide mean streak. Several characters have suffered Amusing Injuries as a result of crossing him.
- Berserk Button: He has several, but they seem to change over time.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys
- Heroic Comedic SociopathPete: He stole Stevil's wallet and inhaler and crawled into the heating duct.Gordo: Stevil didn't crawl in after him, did he? I tried that once and he stole my glasses and gave me a reverse wedgie.Pete: Nah, he's trying to flush him out with the fire extinguisher.
- The Unintelligible: Though able to understand English very well, Squirrely only speaks in ape noises.
- Lampshaded when Weird Pete - and to a lesser extent, Dave and Gordo - seem to get the gist of everything Squirrely attempts to communicate. Gordo even manages to understand him well enough to successfully play "I Spy" with him.
- Nearly Normal Animal: Chimps are already pretty humanlike, but Squirrely takes it to the next level.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: A chimp tending the cash register at your local game store? No big deal.
Croix and HunterBob's Niece and Nephew respectively. Bob occasionally tries to run games for them and sometimes has to borrow Croix's laptop to play World of Hackcraft. Croix has an innocent crush on Dave.
- "Awesome McCool" Name: Hunter's first Hackmaster character: Yoda Squarepants the Destroyer.
- Precocious Crush: Croix has a crush on Dave. She's probably ten. It makes him a little uncomfortable.
Ty FerfelNitro's nephew. A young gamer that hangs out on the periphery of the community and is often involved in under the table dealings.
Earl SlackmozerA rival gamemaster who gets a lot of buzz when he first comes to town, having had a module published by Hard 8 (something B.A. has long tried and failed). At first seems to be the superstar but eventually loses his shine and after being humbled, he and B.A. become friends. Earl currently works at Weird Pete's shop.
- The Ace: At first, in relation to B.A.. Earl is a Gamemaster in high demand and the Knights threaten to leave B.A. for him.
- Out of Focus: He still has a gaming group in Muncie, but he hasn't featured in any stories to speak of for a while.
Johnny KizinskyA Knight of the Dinner Table who left before the strips began, and has turned up a couple of times to sit in on a few games. The Knights are fond of saying "the man could play" but one day his luck ran out and he left the gaming scene. He moved away, got married, has children and runs a Big Juices. A shameless flirt and an opportunist, his overall mentality highlights how the Knights acted before Sara joined.
- Bald of Awesome: Or maybe just bald. In flashback strips, he still had his hair.
- Born Lucky: Until the Noodle Incident when his dice turned on him.
- Casanova Wannabe: And he's married.
- Fallen Hero: This was the attitude B.A, Bob, Dave and Brian all had toward him before his return to gaming.
SwitchCrutch's "friend" and former partner in crime before Crutch went straight. Switch is still a criminal and shown to be disloyal, self serving, and a jerk. He'll commit a crime then sell out his friends for reduced sentences. He's the one who gets Bob to help him plan his heists letting Bob believe it was for a roleplaying game.
- Too Clever by Half: Bob's gaming experience and commitment to roleplaying thieves certainly gives him a good mindset for planning heists but Switch was pushing his luck continuing to rely on Bob. Switch must not be savvy about games the way Bob is.
Cody WinkleSeen at a number of game tables but has never fit in with a group... not even the Black Hands. He's a local actor who likes to use his acting skills at the table and is known for his commitment to story and characterization over game play.
- The Roleplayer: Carried to an extreme that makes him intolerable!
- Talking to Themself: Not in the usual way. His elf bard, Raphael Hoolizar, inherited a brownie familiar (and hand puppet) named Hodgy from Brian.
Bob Herzog, SeniorBob's father, occasionally referenced offscreen as an obstacle to Bob's gaming before finally appearing in the comic.
- Tough Love: Forbids Bob from gaming because he considers it a bad influence, but relents after Bob gets a job. When Bob loses that job because he gets caught malingering once too often, he throws Bob out of the house. Once he appears on panel and we see things from his point of view, it's clear that he does care (for instance, he slips Weird Pete some money to give Bob as a "bonus", on condition that he not tell where it came from), and considers it the only way to get Bob to take some responsibility.
- What the Hell, Hero?: After getting into a game of Cattlepunk (after losing a bet with Weird Pete), he objects to the other players' Comedic Sociopathy — his impression was that the characters were supposed to be larger-than-life Western heroes, not lowlife bushwackers:Mr. Herzog: Ever see the Duke shoot a man in the face? Ever?!! And without so much as a word of warning? I don't think so.