'Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons'

A crossover between Rick and Morty and Dungeons & Dragons might sound like a shameless mashup of the old nerd and the new nerd, aiming to please the widest possible audience while alienating the core fan base for either franchise. But against all odds, the Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons crossover comic is on par with the best Rick and Morty episodes in terms of core storytelling while also capturing what it’s really like to play D&D. Specifically, we’re all Morty when he almost has a mental breakdown trying to figure out how to play.

Take it from a guy who just had his second session of D&D ever two days ago, one that lasted almost seven hours.

Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons hits store shelves on August 29, offering one of the best Rick and Morty comics stories to date, no doubt thanks to writers Patrick Rothfuss and Jim Zub. Art from Troy Little also captures the distinct Rick and Morty style incredibly well.

Most of the first issue has no science fiction whatsoever but still manages to feel Rick and Morty-AF because the writers understand and appreciate the characters so well. The core premise is that Morty wants to learn Dungeons & Dragons, so he goes to Rick for help. But the adventure they embark on takes a crazy sci-fi turn that threatens both their lives. Without spoiling it here, the twist will make fans of both these crossover properties very happy.

'Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons'
'D&D' is so cool that people are clamoring to get into each other's groups.

When Morty overhears a bunch of cool kids at school talking about some thrilling adventure, but it’s not an interstellar space battle like the kind Morty goes on regularly. It’s just a standard D&D campaign. In the world of this comic, D&D is for the cool kids. They say things like, “Kelly sounds like a baller DM.”

In this world, kids in Morty’s school swoon over Griffin McElroy, a D&D podcaster, like he’s a hot actor. Are there actual high school girls that do this in real life? Maybe. But even if this is an exaggeration, it still captures the rising popularity of the tabletop game in 2018. Dungeons & Dragons has risen above its reputation as a game for basement dwellers in 2018. Maybe the cool people were playing it all along?

Either way, Morty wants in on whatever it is. His first step is ultra-relatable: He Googles it.

It’s here that Morty finds Critical Role and Acquisitions Inc., two of the most popular D&D live-play podcasts in our dimension — and his, apparently. Morty bumbles his way through learning about this game. Once someone gains legitimate interest in playing, it becomes like trying to get invited to an ultra-exclusive party. How does one even find a group? Where do you get a Dungeon Master? What steps do you take to make this happen? Because Morty doesn’t really have any friends, he inevitably winds up at a gaming store, where something Morty-AF happens to him.

He sees a cute girl and his motivation increases tenfold.

'Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons'
When a cute girl gets involved, Morty is instantly much more motivated.

True to life, the deeper Morty delves into Dungeons & Dragons, the more confused he gets. He doesn’t even know what he’s looking for in the store, and when he randomly picks up a 1st Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide, the girl — named Annika — compliments him for going “old school.” Things go from bad to worse after he charms his way into her group for a legitimate session, committing to being a Rogue without knowing what that means. So he has mere days to become a full-on expert.

That’s when the most relatable comic book panels I’ve ever seen happens:

'Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons'
Any 'D&D' newbie will recognize these faces.

Dungeons & Dragons is a totally overwhelming experience at first, and it’s one that will totally trigger anxiety in the faint of heart. It’s not a casual game you can dip into. Studious people will fare the best as they pore over player’s manuals and various guidebooks and tons of resources online. But once you reach a point where you at least vaguely understand what’s going on — and you try it out for real — it becomes a thrilling and intense experience.

All that being said, trying out the game not something nobody can really embark on by themselves. Which is why Morty eventually tries to force Rick into teaching him the game with a Morty Adventure Card. But Rick doesn’t even need to be forced because he loves the game.

Rick walks Morty through the process of rolling up a character and refreshingly admits D&D’s “dirty little secret,” that everyone re-rolls for their characters. But of course Morty dies seven times while playing classic 1st Edition with some of Rick’s elderly friends. Watching them get super into the role-playing aspects waving their magic staves and investigating shimmering pools of magic water is pretty chuckleworthy.

All of these carefully planted details genuinely capture the experience of playing Dungeons & Dragons, and that’s perhaps the best thing about this crossover. Things go from great to even better when Rick cooks up a way to up the stakes even further, and things get more dire than they’ve ever been when they enter what’s essentially Dungeons & Dragons world.

But that’s mostly a story for the next issue.

Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons will be available on August 29, 2018.

Photos via IDW Publishing