Alternate Character Interpretation: Heidi Jackson is a person all of the Hard 8 staff loathe with a passion and consider something of a cougar in human skin. She treats the staff like crap, tears through their businesses, and speaks through a combination of lawyers as well as yellow. Except, of course, we find out that Gary Jackson married Heidi for her looks and dramatically mismanaged his company's assets. His Bunny-Ears Lawyer antics also led the company into financial ruin despite the fact it ran the equivalent of the world's World of Warcraft. Oh and he also got them involved in The Mafia. That's before he faked his death and appeared to their child on a regular basis without telling her (resulting in him getting years of therapy). Heidi's exasperation and dislike of her husband's True Companions makes sense.
Bizarro Episode: The strip "Heroes on the Town" shows us a world where Bob, Dave, and Brian fully roleplay their characters, treat NPCs with respect, and are generous to a fault. In short, they live up to a lawful good alignment instead of just paying it their usual lip-service. Sara's behavior remains unchanged from canon universe. It can be quite bizarre to any reader used to their normal behaviors. The altered behavior is explained at the end when B.A. wakes up.
Colbert Bump: This very wiki page was mentioned in a recent article!
Complacent Gaming Syndrome: And they work hard at it. The Knights abuse the protege rules to keep slightly lower level versions of themselves trained and ready to go. Brian even keeps a meticulous journal and contingency spells to make sure his protege gets the journal upon his untimely death to make sure his new character always retains all his knowledge. Sara doesn't usually follow this trope, and B.A. sometimes forces the players to play something other than their standard character types.
B.A.: "I'm not forcing you to do anything, guys. You can create new [4th level] characters under the guidelines I've provided, or you can crank out the same old cookie-cutter characters and start at first level."
One early strip involves Nitro taking over B.A.’s game for a night. It’s never shown exactly what happened, but Dave later says Nitro ran a game based off Deliverance, of which Bob’s character appears to have been the victim. While Sara and B.A. are sympathetic to Bob (Sara even calls Nitro a ‘disgusting pig’), the incident is still Played for Laughs.
Sara and Sheila are the two main offenders as far as this goes. Sara regularly grabs Dave by the shirt collar (once ripping out his chest hair) as retribution for an ill-advised remark. Sheila appears to have punched out just about every man in the strip at some point. They have both drawn a degree of ire from some fans for this reason. This has been evening out somewhat in recent years – in that Sara has been receiving as much abuse as she’s been handing out.
In "A Scolding This Way Comes" (Issue 163), Sheila brings Bob to the gaming table and demands that Brian, Dave, and B.A. apologize for abandoning him to Colonel Prowler's lair in the previous issue. This strip reveals that Sheila had gut-punched Brian, wedgied Dave, and given B.A. a swirly in the restroom when she learned what they'd done, before going to rescue Bob from the cat herself. Sara tries to convince the clearly humiliated Bob that he has nothing to be ashamed of, to no avail. What is particularly ironic about this strip is that it is presented as an Aesop against sexism, in that it criticizes the double standard that a man rescuing a woman from danger is viewed as heroic, while a woman rescuing a man from danger is viewed as embarrassing ... and yet, the comic seems oblivious to the equally sexist double standard that if three women had abandoned a friend in this manner, and were then beaten up by her angry boyfriend, it would never be considered acceptable, let alone viewed as righteous punishment the way Sheila's actions were.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Gordo is very popular with some fans, especially with the recent strips that focus on his awesome home gaming setup.
Crutch has also amassed a respectable fanbase. Many fans reacted favorably to the sympathetic portrayal of his criminal past, and his attempts to assemble his own gaming group.
Patty is very popular with readers. One of the most common requests from fans is "More Patty's Perps!"
Growing the Beard: KODT was initially a short, fairly shallow series of one-off jokes featuring Flat Characters, no ongoing story, and crude art. Over the many years of its publication, it's evolved to a lengthy, deep series featuring fully-fleshed out characters, long story arcs, and...slightly less crude art. The turning point was probably when it stopped focusing on every strip being a brief joke ending in a punchline, and started truly dwelling on the narrative of the campaign, as well as the lives of the denizens of Muncie.
Iron Woobie: B.A. No matter how many times the Knights trash his lovingly-crafted campaigns, he refuses to back down and keeps coming back for more, week after week.
Jerkass Woobie: For all his selfish and manipulative behavior, Brian is still a deeply insecure, rather lonely man who lost both his parents in a car accident, has an unrequited crush on Sara, and, as was revealed in a flashback, had a father who was verbally (and probably physically) abusive to him.
Misaimed Fandom: No matter how horribly Heidi Jackson treated the Hard 8 staff, there were always some readers who insisted that the only reason the men disliked her was because they resented having to take orders from a woman.
The Scrappy: Some readers of the magazine hatedNoah Antwiler's column "A Gamer's Rant on the Movies". It drew a number of complaints, largely from readers who seemed to be taking the column seriously. For a while, its page was printed with a dotted line down the side, with instructions to readers on how to cut out the page if they did not like it. Despite the support of Jolly Blackburn, who thought Noah's rants about bad sci-fi and fantasy movies were funny, the column was canceled after an on-line poll on the Kenzerco forums declared it the most hated part of the magazine.
The replacement column, Gaming The Movies, qualifies as well. Ignoring the fans of Noah Antwiler's original column who are still petitioning for his return, there is a vocal portion of the fan base who claim that the column is little more than an instruction manual on how to rip-off things you saw in a movie and use them in your game.
As one comic book critic noted regarding the Gaming The Movies column in KODT #158, ...they discuss the Underworld movies and how you can use them and other resources for your Vampire/Werewolf themed role-playing games. (sarcasm) I'm sure this is wonderful news for all of you numerous White Wolf players who had NO IDEA that these movies were here. (/sarcasm)
Strawman Has a Point: Bob's dad seems harsh and unreasonable for forbidding Bob to game, but given that Bob ultimately gets fired from his job for feigning illness too many times to game, it seems he has a point, at least about Bob.
As of Issue 194, Bob's dad reveals that he knows that Nitro is teaching his grandson Hunter gaming and actually COMMENDS him for giving Hunter lessons in assertive self-reliance. This, combined with his objections during the Cattlepunk game he played, indicates that he's objecting to Bob's Comedic Sociopathy and personal irresponsibility, not to gaming in general.
What turned out to be a clue to the audience. Bundle of Trouble 17, which reprinted the issue featuring Gary's death, also showed Gary holding his son Timmy's hand with him looking up at his dad smiling as they walk into the sunset. It would later turn out that Gary is alive and that he had surreptitiously visited his son periodically during the period of his supposed death so this probably represents one of those visits.
The nature of Brian's relationship with his father was left ambiguous for many years, until being made painfully clear in a flashback. The scene consists of 12-year-old Brian in his room with his back against the wall (looking adorable with his too-big wizard hat and Green Lantern T-shirt), surrounded by toys and games. His father (off-panel) is bellowing at him at him about his poor grades and "living in a dream world." All Brian can do is feebly mumble "Y-yes, s-sir," to which his father responds "ARE YOU LOOKING FOR THE BACK OF MY HAND?" The scene sheds a great deal of light on the reasons for Brian's current...issues, and was so effective that even some of the readers who hated him reported wanting to give him a hug.
Unintentionally Sympathetic: In "A Quiet Evening" (Issue 172), Bob and Sheila are watching a movie together in their apartment. After sitting in absolute silence for nearly an hour, Sheila asks Bob, "How was your day?" and Bob exclaims, "Geeze Loueeze ... What's with the third degree?!" The audience obviously isn't supposed to be on Bob's side in this little exchange. Some readers were, however. Although they acknowledged that Bob was being unreasonable, they were nevertheless pleased to see any sign that Bob might stop letting Sheila ride roughshod over him.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Bob, Dave, and Brian's reluctance to let Sara GM a game is consistently portrayed as nothing more than a sexist prejudice on the part of the boys. For this reason, the audience is always expected to be on Sara's side. The problem with this is that Sara actually is a terrible GM. She adopts a "my way or the highway" approach to the game, instead of taking the boys' particular playing styles into account. She forces them to play characters they don't like or can't identify with. And worst of all, in her Muffy the Vampire Slayer game (Issue 101), she commits the cardinal sin of having an NPC be the driving force of the story, with the players' characters relegated to supporting roles or merely observing the NPC performing all the action. Because of this, it is sometimes difficult for readers to sympathize with her when she fights to sit behind the GM Screen. Even some female readers who normally root fervently for Sara have stated that they would never want to play a game under her as a GM.
Values Dissonance: The comic spoofs an era of Tabletop Games which had a much more adversarial relation between the players and Dungeon Masters than modern games. Players of more modern RPGs might end up being confused at the Comedic Sociopathy that takes place on both ends.