Dungeon Critters - cover title

TTRPGkids GRAPHIC NOVEL review: Dungeon Critters!

I had heard of Dungeon Critters before in recommendations and had been meaning to grab a copy when… I saw one at my local library!  Needless to say, I checked it out immediately and had a great time reading this awesome tabletop RPG-vibed graphic novel together with my kid! 

*caution – though I tried to not give away much, may contain some minor spoilers for Dungeon Critters*

*art posted with permission from the creators*

Jump to:

What is Dungeon Critters about? 

Dungeon Critters is a graphic novel that follows the story of four intrepid heroes who adventure across the land to stop evil plots (and plants) and face perilous trials (both in their challenges and in the courtroom).  

Dungeon Critters - chirp's nemesis

Dungeon Critters is based off of an actual tabletop RPG party, and the vibes definitely shine through in both the characters and the story.  

Dungeon Critters - descending into the dungeon

There’s Juniper, the anxious healer, Rose, the chaotic caster, Chirp, the rogue prince, and Goro, the strong and sensitive friend.  All of them come together to create a dynamic and fun group who work and grow together, persevere through inter-party conflicts, and face danger to save the day!  

Without giving away details, the story is a fun trail that leads through swamps, ballrooms, dungeons, castles, gardens, and the royal courtroom!  There’s action, intrigue, and a bit of romance all splashed together to create an exciting adventure for the story’s heroes to tackle and for keeping readers captivated.

There’s also AMAZING illustrations.  Because Dungeon Critters is a graphic novel, every page is covered in art that helps describe scenes better than words ever could, held my kid’s attention way better than any other book, and gave us some good laughs with the awesome facial expressions that conveyed such a mood so many times!

Who would Dungeon Critters be great for?

Dungeon Critters would be great for anyone!  

I think middle graders and up would REALLY click with this, but, also, my kid, who is 4 years old, loved the art and story so much that we covered the whole 250+ page novel in two sittings.  For older kids and grown-ups, there’s a great balance of action, comedy, and adventure that make this an amazing read!

Dungeon Critters - goro and the snake

I am a firm believer that graphic novels are one of the best ways to tell a story with how they mesh art and dialogue.  I love my giant pictureless sci-fi tomes, but I also really love graphic novels because they connect in a different, and, often, more effective way.  

Dungeon Critters - juniper saving rose

For both kids and grown ups who are finding it hard to read large books, having part of the story come from visuals can be so engaging!  Plus, you get moments like here where it would take a paragraph to convey just some of the meaning in this panel, but just reading one line and looking at the facial expression tells you EVERYTHING you need to know about how this particular interaction went.

In short, anyone, from kids to adults, would have a fun time reading Dungeon Critters, but I particularly recommend it for people who already love graphic novels, are looking for a new way to engage with literature, or are sharing with kids who love illustrated books!

What Dungeon Critters shows about tabletop RPG parties

I loved the interactions in Dungeon Critters, and I felt that it was a perfect showcase of how tabletop RPG parties interact and grow.  

The story covers general party shenanigans and mayhem, inter-party conflict and support, and how character personal backstories play out within the overall group.  There’s situations where the party gets split, either because they wandered apart in a dungeon or because of conflict between group members, and it shows how things can get resolved – characters find each other again, repair the damages, and move on together.   

Dungeon Critters - burning up the dance floor

There’s also situations where party members get closer by talking about backstory or build up a bit of romance, and there’s awesome queer representation from all of the main characters.  These are really important details to showcase to anyone, but, particularly to new tabletop RPG players. It can help show know what they can do with characters in game and can feel more comfortable playing the character that they want.

So, for anyone new to tabletop RPGs or for experienced players looking to get a bit of a reflection to connect and laugh about their own past experiences, this is a great place to discover those stories.

Our favorite parts from Dungeon Critters

For me, I loved the party dynamics going on in the final act – there was so much drama and such an epic and fulfilling conclusion to the story and character arcs (plus a great cliffhanger for more)! 

Dungeon Critters - juniper at the party

I also really enjoyed Juniper trying to get through the ball despite having no social skills – something like that has happened in one of my games before, and my kid probably thought I was just laughing at the funny faces.

Like I said before, there is queer representation in Dungeon Critters as well, and, as someone who grew up with no queer rep and then figured myself out later in life, I’m glad to see characters who are openly themselves and accepted by others.

For my kid, he was enthralled with the party scene (we reread several of those pages a few times), and he absolutely loved Rose! 

He kept calling her “The Fire Kitty ” afterwards and acted out some of the scenes with his kitty stuffed toy as Rose.  He particularly liked one scene that involved Rose and the repercussions of her pyro side:

Dungeon Critters - rose lighting stuff on fire

My overall thoughts on Dungeon Critters

Dungeon Critters was such a fun read!  I loved the characters, the story, and the art, AND it gave off amazing tabletop RPG vibes.  I think this is a great novel on its own, but also is a great introduction for new tabletop RPG players to get some ideas for characters and RP or see examples of how a tabletop RPG party can interact with each other.  This was a fantastic book, and I hope there’s plans for more (gotta find out what’s going on with Horseboy)!

Find a copy of Dungeon Critters

You can find out more about this book here, on the Dungeon Critters website, and you can find a copy at most online book sellers or potentially at your local library, like I did!

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Dungeon Critters - cover title

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