Webcomics You Should Be Reading: ‘Darths & Droids’
Though Star Wars fandom is full of disagreements and divisions, most of us fanboys are in agreement about a few things: Jedi, lightsabers and force powers are awesome. Anything Timothy Zahn writes is going to be better than anything Kevin J. Anderson writes. And Lucas probably would have had a better script for The Phantom Menace if he’d hired a seven-year-old to write it.
Enter the Comic Irregulars (Andrew Coker, Andrew Shellshear, David Karlov, David McLeish, David Morgan-Mar, Ian Boreham, Loki Patrick, and Steven Irrgang), who you might recall from their work on the action figure/photo capture comic Irregular Webcomic. Inspired by Shamus Young’s work on DM of the Rings, they ask the question, “What if Star Wars was a roleplaying campaign that went far, far away from what the Game Master intended?”
And thus was born Darths & Droids.
The comic is set in a universe where Star Wars never existed, and the unnamed game master/narrator has designed the world from scratch for his game. Before the game begins, the players don’t know anything at all about Jedi, or Tatooine, the Skywalker family, because they only exist in the GM’s mind. The setting is built up over the course of the story in response to what the players do, and what they do is never what the GM expects, in a classic roleplaying maneuver known as “going off the rails.”
The plot follows Jim (playing Qui-Gon), Ben (playing Obi-Wan), and three other players who join later as they demonstrate why you shouldn’t make laser swords the cheapest available weapons, why you shouldn’t bring your little sister to roleplaying group, and how much more sense the plot of Episode I makes when filtered through the chaotic lens of a roleplaying game.
The introduction of Jar-Jar Binks
The most logical explanation ever for the political system on Naboo
A familiar situation for anyone who’s ever introduced a new player to roleplaying in mid-campaign
And, of course, the explanation of Midi-Chlorians
Drama: Low. This comic registers a zero on the angst-o-meter.
Humor: Excellent, though often requires knowledge of Star Wars, roleplaying games, or both. If you don’t like either of those things, you won’t get it.
Continuity: High. You need to start from the first strip [link: http://www.darthsanddroids.net/episodes/0001.html] and do an archive trawl in order.
Art: No score, as this is a screen-capture comic done with stills from the Star Wars movies. The screencaps are exceptionally well-chosen, though.
Archive: One year, 150 page-sized comics.
Updates: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, reliably.
Risk/Reward: The Comic Irregulars claim that their plan is to do all six Star Wars movies, which will take about eight years at the current rate of storyline progress. If they fail, of course, you already know how things end.