Embracing the Silly Aspects of Fantasy Gaming

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on October 25, 2011

Sometimes we focus so much on the serious aspects of D&D that we forget the importance of the humorous and ludicrous. This is a fantasy game in which magic is commonplace. So with that kind of framework doesn’t it seem right that there should be some outrageously silly things that are just accepted as a part of the fantastic world?

That’s not to say that things shouldn’t make sense. There needs to be some explanation for the unbelievable and the unexpected within the established framework, but the players don’t always have to take it so seriously. By throwing in a few humorous things every once and a while the players come to realize that just because they think something seems bizarre and out of place doesn’t mean that their characters feel the same way.

Case in point is the classic adventure Castle Greyhawk. Each of the 12 levels in this dungeon crawl featured a different humour-based theme. In many cases these were drawn from aspect of real-life popular culture. The adventure was incredibly ludicrous taking parody and satire to an extreme never before seen in D&D. Many people hated the very concept of such a ridicules exercise, but the idea of inserting more humour into adventure design was good then and is still now. I’ll admit that this kind of thing can go too far (which I think was the reason a lot of people disliked this adventure), but there is good reason to visit and revisit this idea more often than we do now.

Remember that D&D is a fantasy game so be creative and explore the fantastic. Sometimes going to a silly extreme is a good creative exercise for the DM and can insert some much needed brevity into a campaign that might be taking itself too seriously.

Taking this idea of something totally unexpected, humorous, yet still explainable and possibly even plausible in a fantasy setting were magic is perfectly acceptable, I’ve come up with a fun locale that you can use in your campaign the next time you need to take things a little less seriously.

The Dungeoneer’s Delight, a Spa for Experienced Adventures

Rescuing princesses, slaying dragons and exploring long forgotten dungeons is hard work for any adventurer. When it’s all over you need to relax and unwind before your next quest. Take more than an extended rest, spend a weekend at The Dungeoneer’s Delight, a Spa for Experienced Adventures. We understand your needs and can make you feel like a brand new hero.

Our staff is specially suited and uniquely qualified to pamper you in ways you’d never expect because everyone who works at the Dungeoneer’s Delight is a monster. But these aren’t your typical, kill-the-adventurers kind of monsters. Every monster working here is an exception to the evil stereotype of their race or has seen the error of their ways and decided to turn over a new leaf. The extensive experience and knowledge their brethren have used for generations to slay adventurers is now put to good use making you feel pampered.

While there enjoy any or all of these featured services.

  • A therapeutic massage from one of our Marilith massage therapists. Let her six arms work your knotted muscles in ways only a beautiful six-armed woman can.
  • A deep treatment scalp massage from one of our Illithids. They know how to make you forget about your problems and focus on the positive things life has to offer.
  • Sip on a potion of acid resistance while soaking your feet in a basin filled to the brim with a Gelatinous Cube. Let the ooze take care of those nasty calluses, dead skin and the dirt under your nails.
  • Visit the grill where a team of Quicklings prepare exotic dishes right in front of you at lightning speed. Food is cut, chopped, and sliced so fast you’ll think it was magic.
  • Listen to the soothing melodies of the Satyr Pipers as they play soothing melodies during your stay. These are songs you’ll be glad you can’t get out of your head.

Our prices are very reasonable. Book your next stay now!

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1 Martin Flockhart October 25, 2011 at 10:20 am

This is a great idea. When thing start to get a bit stuffy I’ll bring this out and try it on my Party. They are mostly newbies and they play in a very lighthearted manner anyway. When things are getting too serious I think this is just the thing they will need to rekindle that immersion of fantasy.

2 Quirky DM October 25, 2011 at 11:01 am

OK, that was funny. You made me laugh. Illithid deep scalp massage. *chuckle*

Here’s another example from Order of the Stick:

I used this in my own campaign:
Overland travel via giant catapult! Good for taking days off your travel time. Tonnes of leg room and no wait in line for bathrooms. Just remember to hold tight to your potion of Feather Fall and drink it quickly when over your destination. (no refunds or Raise Dead provided to those dropping or misplacing their potions) Don’t forget to visit the duty free boutique on your way out for valuable travel items like insect wards, bird warning amulets or a cloak of Fire Shield.

3 BeanBag October 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Terrific! More and more of these items push D&D away from the “Encounters” to the “Role Playing” aspects of the game.

Before my heroes embark upon their next mission, they will have to settle an ongoing dispute between an owner of the Brothel (an Angel who tries to save as many wayward souls as possible) and the owner of the Mageware shop (a mean spirited Succubus who would run the Brothel very differently if she were in charge).

The patrons of the businesses, the PC’s, the owners, and the local government will all show up with different goals in the encounter…

But the environment and characters will end up being visited again soon and will bring real life and depth to the story.

4 Kiel Chenier October 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm

OK…thank GAWD for bringing this up! This kind of stuff is mah bread and butter in D&D. Slight parodies of the typically grim and gritty setting of “Dark Fantasy”.

Screw dark fantasy! That stuff’s old! Wizards shouldn’t brood! They can shoot magical lightning and brimstone from their fingertips! These should be some very happy people.

My favourite example was a Drow spelljammer pilot who ferried the PCs across the astral sea. He wore all black, plus an eye patch, and his name was Grimm Felldark. He spoke like Christian Bale’s Batman…

…until the PCs learned his true name…which turned out to be Yancy.

5 DelayedSession October 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I once ran a session where the heroes had to chase a bunch of imps around a dungeon to collect some key gems the imps had adopted as necklaces. I opened the encounter with “Yakety Sax.” I also once played in a campaign where a whole session was styled as a direct parody of the board game clue. And another session where we fought a rock-band of bards and their rave-monkey minions in the middle of a concert. I’m a sucker for that sort of thing. 🙂

6 Sunyaku October 25, 2011 at 10:25 pm

I’m glad you kept this post rated “G”. I can see ways that the rating could, however, go up very quickly. For example, I’ll just say one word: shapechangers.

7 Thorynn October 27, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Very nice! One of our more memorable “silly” encounters was an adventure with a thanksgiving theme. Our party of intrepid adventures laid waste to cranberry “slimes” and the dreaded Dire Turkey. A good time was had by all!

8 Catalina March 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm

haha once we had a character (that happened to be a giant badger) pole-vault over a 20-foot break in a brige we were fighting trolls on. And then my character, having a super-high ride skill, just had the horse jump over the gap, no problem. It was so funny we all just started cracking up. Oh my, that badger did some ludicrous things… Once the badger disguised himself as an enemy (we were fighting pirates) and then trailed gunpowder around, dropped the spark they were using to light the cannons, and then shot himself out of another cannon as the ship exploded behind him. All the while shouting “for love!!!!!”

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