Friday Favourite: Embracing the Silly Aspects of Fantasy Gaming

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on June 13, 2014

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From October 25, 2011, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Embracing the Silly Aspects of Fantasy Gaming.

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.

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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.

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1 Crossems June 13, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Although I cut my teeth on DM’ing with the old B2 Keep on the Borderlands back in ’80, It wasn’t until I started running Castle Grayhawk, that I found a level of games, that fostered fun, and lasting tales combined with the silliness.

When we were kids, everything seemed Silly. It was easy to game. But then for some reason aroudn AD&D 2nd edition, things turned more serious.

Castle Grayhawk, gave us just the right dosage of silliness needed to return our games to their child like state of fun, and to this day, I still keep in close contact with the players I ran through it.

Thanks for bringing this topic up.

2 Brian Criswell June 17, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Silliness is a core part of our games. In my opinion, you not only remember the awesome moments but also the funny stuff. We have a good, hard laugh probably once every two weeks or so, and that makes gaming a great stress reducer from real life.

Some examples:
The party finds a baby owlbear that they determine is valuable, so they name it “Payday.” The player of a Tiefling mage was not there that week, so they leave it with his character back at their base. After getting caught up on events, the player decides that his character is going to have spent the last week’s session making a Tiefling delicacy. He emails me to say his character has picked up a bunch of chickens and made a delicious stew using every part but the feathers. When the characters got back to the base, they are irresistibly drawn to the stew. To their horror, they see a back and eyeball floating in it. The half-gnoll who bonded with the owlbear is horrified but cannot stop eating the delicious stew. When the party accuses him of cooking Payday, the Tiefling says that he is safe in the basement.

A later week, the player’s had seen a picture of some dirt cups I had made for my daughter’s school birthday. They joked that I should bring some in (I had previously brought in a chocolate cake for a player that was heading out on deployment). So I worked with the Tiefling mage again. After returning to base from a battle, he got started on dinner. Some characters noticed he went out the back door and started digging up mud, worms, flowers and bugs and mixing it up into cups before performing some unknown ritual. When he brought them in the house, the characters were disgusted at the thought of the ingredients but failed their saves and were drawn in by the delicious smells. At this point, I pulled out the dirt cups that I brought for the players.

The halfling rogue declares that she does not believe in things coming back to life. This is after she was mysteriously brought back to life by an artifact, but she does not realize that she died. Over the next few sessions, she is confronted by a ghost and an animatronic zombie dinner party.

The half gnoll finds a ball pit of iron balls and gets distracted from the combat encounter. He takes some balls to make bolas, but when he leaves the dungeon, the balls are magically returned to the ball pit. While getting chewed out by his garrison commander who wants to know what happened to him while he was AWOL, he blurts out, “I lost my balls.”

The half-gnoll convinces the garrison commander that he cannot go out on patrol (thus separating him from the rest of the party) by telling him that he is “on a mission from God.” (Heironeous)

The fighter is not all “there.” She rolls percentile dice whenever she meets something new. 50% or below and it is “cute,” and it is probably going to die.

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