"We try things. Occasionally they even work."
Erfworld is a webcomic written by Rob Balder of PartiallyClips and theFUMP fame and illustrated (so far) by two different artists: first Jamie Noguchi for the duration of book one, followed by Xin Ye for book two. The comic is at times a fantasy-action hybrid, at others a work more on the scale of The Hurt Locker or Saving Private Ryan for a Dungeons & Dragons setting, and at all times a surprisingly deep and complex deconstructive psychological analysis of a world shaped by different forces than our own.
Erfworld takes its name from the in-universe world that the majority of the comic takes place on. This world is governed largely by the rules of many tabletop games and other strategy-based videogames, and much of the series is built around deconstructing many of the tropes associated with these mediums. From turn-based combat to the total lack of children, the comic plays with many established elements of fantasy gaming and takes a hard look at how life would be in a world that plays by the rules we design.
The comic focuses on the adventures of Parson A. Gotti, a typical loser-gamer who lives in a world very similar to our own. However, near the start of the comic Parson finds himself pulled into a tabletop setting he was creating, and as Parson slowly learns to adjust to the peculiarities of Erfworld, Erfworld slowly starts adjusting to the stranger in its midst. The comic then follows Parson and his new kingdom, Gobwin Knob, through an unwinnable battle and the future afterwards.
The comic is notable for being surprisingly deep yet very accessible. While the comic deals with a very complex system of magic and revolves around a central theme of the importance of fate, it also provides compelling characters and shows the tolls that the constant warfare of Erfworld has taken on their relationships over the years. Every element of the story functions as a Chekhov's gun, and every character or location named is a pun on at least one level. The comic also has a tendency to break barriers; not only is it a genre-blending nightmare to describe, the comic often also updates in short story format with minimal imagery, and for one section was presented as both a short fiction/comic hybrid with an audiobook piece narrated by Arthur Chu.
Erfworld is a very enjoyable and very repeatable read, and is currently hosted at this website. While there is a "book 0", this is a text-based prologue which is not the actual startpoint for the comic. New readers should instead go to the beginning of book one to start.