Sunday, December 13, 2020

What's so funny about Felltower: Humor & my DF game

I was reading a book of magic items to see what would fit my DF game. Which one doesn't matter at the moment; maybe I'll review it on the blog at some point. The magic items in it are a mixed bag. Some really fit the tone and feel of Felltower just well enough to be worth consideration. Others don't. Still more are more "story book" magic items, where simply having them should greatly affect the plot and flavor of a game with them, enough to be part of the story in and of themselves. A good number have hidden puns or jokes built into their names or operation.

More than anything else, the ones created around someone else's humor are the tough ones.

That's a big stumbling block for me.

I'm a big fan of humor in my games. Silly weirdness and not taking the whole thing too seriously? DF Felltower is about that. We've had a whole sub-section of the campaign centered on the, ahem, "bells of D'Abo" thanks to the confessed infatuation one of our players had with Olivia D'Abo. The PCs have fought meat-like pink slime, I mean lean finely textured monstrous slime, and leaping leeches, and slugbeasts (created off of the name thought up by Sir Bunny's player), and trolls with pet rust monsters. They fought the dreaded Rangol Grot, whose ridiculous name was coined by a kid name Eiji who I taught English to. The main religion's exclamation "Good God y'all!" (and the name of the diety) is pulled from an Edwin Starr song. Sir Bunny Wigglesworth and Mo (his momma call him Kle) are both movie references, and a few other characters have been references to "Beyond the Black Walnut" by Mark E. Rogers from his Samurai Cat books. Drum circles of druids, no one knows what they were doin', and the high druid is Warlock from "The Young Ones." Even more items, monsters, and names have come from silliness or in-jokes. This list isn't vaguely exhaustive. And they haven't even dared the Jester Gate, which leads to out-and-out silliness.

It's not a serious game.

But it's hard to fit someone else's jokes in. Someone else's puns. Someone else's sense of humor. As much as Sean Punch and I share a brain sometimes when it comes to monster design, I'm not going to stick the magical leggings from DF6 into my game. Some things I will, though. I won't promise that there isn't a ninja wearing the Sho Kosu Gi in it somewhere. Heh.

It's tough enough for someone else to have written something that feels like it belongs in my game. It's even tougher to be the right kind of funny for my game, too. So even if I do think some author's pun is amusing, it's not mine, and it's not likely it'll resonate with my players as much, either. So generally bits that depend on humor have a tough time making into my game.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, comedy is weird. I don't tend to enjoy 'comedy' or 'super-serious-business' rpgs, but the inbetween. A game run seriously but with allowances for comedy. And certainly the occasional well-placed or played joke or pun from the GM.

    And not every joke is for everyone. Frex in one game I ran the PCs hired a guide named Sere who had a pair of pack ponies named Alice and Mollie. One guy in my group got the giggle-snerts every time he thought about them (ex-army grunt), no one else cared (or even noticed until after the joke was explained by the guy who found it funny - Sere - SERE = Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape. Alice and Molly, ALICE = All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment and MOLLE = Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) despite the whole crew, with two exceptions*, being ex-army grunts and specialists (and of course once a joke is explained, it'll never be funny to the people you explained it too). (*Me, I went through Air Force JROTC but never joined, and the "and girlfriend" who was way more into political/social gaming than the guys once she got used to roleplaying - but she never did get the rules down)

    Anyway, I don't know where I was going with that, but comedy, it's subjective. I've been in games that were lighthearted laugh riots and I played in the game that puns killed.


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