Reviews: Darths And Droids

Starts out Awesome, slides down to Pretty Good.

On the whole, Darths and Droids is a really good webcomic, and I would certainly recommend it. It has a good balance of gaming humor combined with affectionately poking fun at the more goofy aspects of the movies. In particular, the comic is great at twisting the plots of the movies into something that's just closely related enough to see similarities, but casting the events in entirely different contexts. However, despite the fact that it's generally good, it doesn't quite maintain the same level of quality it starts out with.

The prequel sections are definitely the high point, and they're hilarious. The thing is, part of the reason why this section is so great is because the gaming session is, to put it lightly, a mess. Not in the sense that the game is run badly or unfun for the players, but in that the players are almost never on the same page with themselves or with the GM. One player wants to turn off his brain and screw around, one wants to stay in-character as much as possible, another one is The Munchkin, several have no idea how these games even work, and the GM is just (futilely) trying to keep the game on something resembling a track. The mishmash of everyone trying to play the game their own way results in a ton of amusing scenarios as the GM scrambles to get a coherent plot going while they bungle their way forward.

Unfortunately, the problem is that as the comic goes on (starting right around the time it goes from prequels to original trilogy), that confusion is reduced. The characters are all (with the exception of Corey, who learns very quickly anyway) familiar with how the game is meant to be played, and rather than being at odds, start cooperating with the GM more often in an effort to create a story. While this is a perfectly valid way to play a game in real life, in comic form, it just isn't as interesting as watching everyone trip over each other as they meander in the wrong direction while the GM tries to lure them back on track.

It doesn't help that the players' non-game lives start getting more focus, and like the above, their "real life" drama isn't nearly as amusing as the hijinks they get up to in-game. In particular, Sally goes from a Crazy Awesome spanner in the works to a much less interesting "rebellious teenager" type, when the comic could really use her earlier wackiness. The comic also begins to focus more on the "in-universe" plot of the game, and less on the characters actual actions. Multiple pages will go buy of in-universe exposition with no actual roles or anything.

That isn't to say the later portions are bad. They aren't, and they're still pretty good. There are still good jokes throughout and the twisting of Star Wars' plot really must be seen to be believed. But despite the good parts of the latter sections, they aren't quite as good as the earlier sections, which are where the comic really shined.

Not funny because the group is too functional.

Obviously, this series was an attempt to do with Star Wars what DM of the Rings did with Lord of the Rings. It misses, however, what made DM of the Rings funny: the players and the DM were terrible. The DM insists on railroading the players to the point that the game is almost non-interactive, he keeps throwing legions of the same monsters at the players endlessly, and he never gives them any rewards, whether in the form of treasure, magic items, or even recognition of their deeds and their contribution by NP Cs. Meanwhile, the players do not even try to get into the spirit of the game, refuse to pay any attention to the backstory of the campaign, or, indeed, to any of the information that the DM provides throughout the quest, and so on and so forth. No one is having any fun with the game, yet they keep plugging away at it. That is funny.

The problem with Darths and Droids is that this is a fantastic RPG group. The players get deeply involved with their characters and the story, and while they do go off the rails all the time, the DM compensates smoothly, thereby providing them with constant opportunities to participate in the building of the campaign world and the telling of the story. In short, there's nothing to laugh at because this is a great gaming group. As such, there's nothing to laugh at. It's just not funny.

Comic for prequel fantastic. Original is much less interesting.

The comics for the prequel is absolutely fantastic. Funny all the way through.

Now we're well under way in the originals, the quality of the humor and awesomeness has sunk a great deal.

This is not really the writer's fault though.

Like DM of the Rings, this webcomic ports a movie series into D&D webcomic form through a central premise.

DM of the Ring uses the premise that the campaign is run by a hardass railroading GM and the campaign is (for the players) absolutely not fun. They're just there so the DM get to tell a story. It works all the way through.

Darth and Droids uses the premise that all the idiotic decisions in the Star Wars movie were due to a bunch of P Cs doing random stuff and going off rail. They make fun of plot holes, bad character writing, and general illogicality by chalking it up to P Cs stupidity, randomness, or plain bad dice rolls. This works fantastic for the prequel movies because the movies are full of those things: plot holes, bad character writing, and general illogicality. But the originals are well written, concise, and makes sense. This means we get to see a lot less of the P Cs actually fool around now in the comics, which diminishes the humor a lot. But there's no way to write out of this without either a) straying from the movie's plot and/or b) changing the P Cs personalities that were already so well established.

It's a shame really. All in all still worth a read. And the prequel movie comics are definitely a good archive binge.

Great for any Star Wars fan, not just tabletop gamers

I'll admit it, I've never played a tabletop game in my entire life. But that hasn't stopped me from loving this witty, funny, and engaging webcomic.

The premise of Star Wars as a tabletop game, while not exactly original, certainly adds a new flavor to the saga, as well as explaining away much of the bad writing. The interactions between the players are well-written and funny, and helix perfectly with the screencaps and plot of the games they play. The Romantic Plot Tumor between Anakin and Padme has been explained as an awkward relationship between their players, which spilled over into the characters and was used for Character Development. Anakin's Jumping Off The Slippery Slope is a result of his player wanting to play him as Lawful Evil. The plot of the movies has been altered significantly, restricted only by the screencaps of the movies, though I see this as a positive.

Each comic strip ends with a silly blurb that also imports tips and rulings of the tabletop-gaming world. I like them, but I don't know if experienced players will find them annoying. The blurbs occasionally link to This Very Wiki, showing that the author can use tropes as effective writing tools.

Any Star Wars fan, whether or not they liked the prequels, will enjoy the prequel arc regardless. Liked the prequels? The Alternate Character Interpretation of virtually everyone - especially Jar Jar Binks and Palpatine - will be sure to give you a ton of laughs. Hate the prequels? The various Take That moments towards the actual movies, as well as the patching up of virtually every moment of Fridge Logic, will also make this experience enjoyable.

I'm kinda concerned about the original trilogy arc, though. It may end up not as funny as the prequel arc, the originals being "tamer" movies and all. I haven't been disappointed at all by the strips that have been hashed out so far, but only time will tell.

Nevertheless, it will be a great read, so enjoy yourself!

Recommended

This web comic is great! The comic provides witty commentary on the Star Wars prequel but, at the same time, is hilarious on its own. I can't wait to see its take on the original trilogy! A must-read for Star Wars fans and critics alike!
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