Saturday, May 24, 2014

Greyhawk Had Weirdness, And My Dungeon Does Too

I loved this collection of the published material from Greyhawk and comments from its players that Wayne R. published the other day.

It Was All Weird

Yeah, there are a lot of things that are silly, weird, and dangerous all at once.

Just about the only thing I haven't read from that list is the Bottle City - I missed that one, although I know about it.

Silly yet deadly is a really fun way to go. Greyhawk had Lewis Carroll levels, Diablo II had the Cow Level, so why shouldn't Felltower have something equally groan-inducing yet deadly?

I'm not interested in mixing sci-fi with my fantasy for my DF game, but I can promise some silly weird stuff is down in the dungeons, if you go deep enough, into the right cul-de-sacs, or play with the wrong doors or levers. Rich loot will also be in the weird spots, too - because you should remember plundering Wonderland or Monster Island with a grin.

Still, humor is a bit of a sensitive thing. I've run into "funny" encounters that just made me enjoy it all a bit less. So needless to say what I throw in will be aimed at what I think my players will find amusing but odd. But it is in there . . .


  1. Heh, that's when I remember that I'm really not a funny GM, I HATE that weird goofy , almost burlesque, stuff! Read couple of the modules with this in them, never understood how anyone could play that.

    I'm all for having dinos and chthonian stuff, I like odd, but in the right place, for the right reasons, not just because: "cow level!".
    Lots of people really love that though. Me, I just enjoy things gritty, brutal, serious and in shades of gray...
    ...I'm not funny...ah well, at least I know it! :)

    1. Comedy is hard. It's got to be funny to the GM and the players alike, or it won't work.

      But weird can just work, too. EX1 and EX2, or WG6, all work well even if they're crazy. The Wonderland thing is not slapstick so much as it's just a good themed dungeon. I think you can throw S2 White Plume Mountain in there, too - it's a funhouse, it's weird, but it's not humorous. But it's also well-done lethality. It's a real challenge, it's just not a dead-on serious challenge.

      You can mess it up - we had a "funny" encounter in Castle of the Mad Archmage that just made me sigh, because it was just kind of tension-breaking. The good tension kind of went and it derailed us for a little bit. Conversely, the weirdness of the key room with a brain teaser was fine, and showed the "weird" without being a joke.

      For example, I've never run a group through Dungeonland and had them not enjoy it. There is something about it that stays on the right side of "less serious but serious" and away from "jokey." More "weird" than "slapstick." Yes, we had a samurai in a karate fight with a giant rabbit while the mad hatter was tossing hats at the wizard. Sounds stupid, but it was tense and fun.

      But I like Borderlands 2 a lot, which does a great mix of "funny but lethal" and just "lethal." I've played it through several times and I look forward to re-plays so I can do the funny stuff again. So that might show right there the kind of funny-weird I like, even as my love of White Plume Mountain will show what kind of not-funny-weird I like.

    2. Yea, mad hatter and giant white rabbits, don't think I can do that. Can't do borderlands either, characters look goofy, then there's the robot dude. Just can't get into it for some reason.
      My kind of weird is stuff like Event Horizon or In the Mouth of Madness. That I can do, good fun and actually makes me laugh even, but not "comedy laugh" of course.

      Probably comes down to not having any experience with it really, no references I can draw from to make it work in game or find it interesting today. Kinda wish I could though, just to have more options. Hate it when stuff you did or didn't do 30 years ago comes back knocking :)

    3. I get that regret - it's why I'm doing my dungeon the way I am now. A lot of this is stuff I miss, plus stuff I didn't do because it was out of common use by the time I started in '81.

      Considering your comments, though, I realize that I need to clearly label when the players are potentially crossing into a sillier area, just in case they aren't interested in that and prefer to seek treasure and fun in areas with less silliness.

    4. Pushing your own boundaries, if just to test the water, is good though sometimes.
      For a full campaign full of silliness, then yea, a disclaimer would probably be good, but for just a quick episode during one session, maybe just ONE room somewhere where things just get completely screwed around, just to see how people react, I think it should be fine, especially if the players aren't ready for it.

      Might try that myself sometime, just a little bit, see how it really taste :)

    5. I agree about not liking silliness in DF. When I play I get really involved and I love to solve the adventure. If the adventure makes sense and is fun then that is why I play RPGs. But if it just degenerates into slapstick or roll your eyes jokes then I will quit wasting my time by playing that adventure. Wierdness is different though. If it is done in a Twilight Zone way or with strange laws of reality or powers then I enjoy it.

    6. I'm not a fan of slapstick, either. But humor in games? It's been there since the inception of the hobby, and I'm happy to use it in my games. When I have it's made the game better.


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