Friday, October 2, 2009
In Which Trai Reviews 'On the Origin of PCs'
The Book: On the Origin of PCs
The Author (And Illustrator): Rich Burlew
How I Found It: Carrie Vaughn plugged the online strip in a blog entry. I spent the entire weekend glued to the archives. I've been caught up since the summer and ordered this book-exclusive prequel.
The Review: I don't play Dungeons and Dragons, but I do enjoy epic fantasy stories a whole lot, and I'm game for parodies of the things I love. I started reading the comic as a way to kill time, but I soon found myself absorbed in how it took on the cliches of epic stories and roleplaying games.
The basics of OOTS is that it follows the exploits of six adventurers, The Order of the Stick, on their quest to defeat Xykon, a "lich". The Order consists of Roy, a Fighter with an MBA, whose father's Blood Oath is what leads to the quest to destroy Xykon in the first place; Haley, a Rogue who acts as the second-in-command; Elan, an annoyingly peppy and slightly dimwitted Bard; Durkon, a Dwarf Cleric who's been with Roy the longest of all and is convinced trees are out to destroy us all; Vaarsuvius, an androgynous Elf obsessed with arcane power; and Belkar, a Halfling Ranger who's pretty much psychotic.
They're a ragtag bunch, but they're wildly funny. Burlew made this book to explain their backstory, and though it's short, he does a great job of keeping the backstory true to the characters. We learn how Haley abandoned the thieves' guild, how Roy came to take his father's challenge of defeating Xykon, why Durkon left the Dwarven lands, just why Belkar joined the Order, how dense Elan could truly be, and how Vaarsuvius was still ranting away prior to joining the Order.
My only complaints about the book are that I wish it was longer, and that I'm STILL waiting on an explanation of why Haley and Vaarsuvius are so close.
Anyway, if you're a fan of the series, it's definitely worth a read, even though I'm late to the OOTS bandwagon and most have read it already. But if you've never read the comic, I have to agree with Mr. Burlew and say read the online strip first-- Origin of PCs will be so much funnier when you know the little jokes, such as an ink blot covering Vaarsuvius' answer about his gender. ('He' is just an arbitrarily assigned pronoun-- what I believe V is. Word of God states that just like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world will never know.)