Debuting in 2003 as a way for Rich Burlew to drive traffic to his RPG resources site Giant in the Playground Games, The Order of the Stick is one of the longest continuously running comics on the web, clocking in at issue #1151 as of this writing. What started as an excuse to crack wise about RPG and fantasy tropes has grown since then into a small publishing empire churning out comics, graphic novels, card and board games and even calendars and X-mas ornaments. Thanks to his plucky stick figure band of heroes, Rich has grabbed the brass ring that every gamer has reached for since Gary Gygax drafted his friends to help him staple together and ship the first D&D box sets off into the world, to make a life from his passion.
The story follows the eponymous adventurers, gathered together by Roy Greenhilt the Fighter, as they travel the land on a quest to fulfill the blood oath Roy’s father had failed to complete before his demise, to destroy the Lich Xykon before the undead wizard completes his quest to unlock the reality destroying Snarl and wreak havoc across the universe. They were also a regular feature in the late lamented Dragon Magazine, where they poked fun at the hobby with wit and flair. Those stories were collected in Snips, Snails and Dragon Tales, along with tons of new material. The final Dragon Magazine strip is a love letter to the legendary publication.
Far from being just a series of puns and gamer inside jokes, Order of the Stick has addressed a surprising series of interesting issues. Durkon Thundershield, loyal cleric of Thor has to deal with prejudiced humans and the moral failings of himself and his comrades. Haley Starshine has a secret mission to rescue her father that she has to weigh against the greed that makes her a good thief. The casually homicidal halfling ranger Belkar Bitterleaf learns that there are consequences to his actions he hadn’t imagined and the high elven wizard Varsuvious discovers that power is not always worth the price. Elan the Bard invents a religion all his own.
It’s worth starting at the beginning. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.