G.M.’s, Don’t Be Afraid To Be Funny.

dnd abed

Trevor plays a lot of D&D…but recent experiences have reshaped the way he plays…

I play a fair amount of Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder and other pen and paper RPGs. Somehow, I hadn’t even realized that I’ve gotten into a rut until a few nights ago. Currently, in my Pathfinder campaign, the adventure path is called Hell’s Vengeance and starts out with the party being nothing more than a bunch of thugs for a local Baron. It really feels like Robin Hood only from the perspective of King John and his minions. It’s an Evil campaign and my party is having lots of fun playing scheming, blood thirsty villains.

Hell's Vengance

While playing it, something interesting happened. My party was putting up edicts in the name of the of the evil Baron and one of them was a curfew. They put an edict on a local tavern and once the tavern owner read it he became infuriated. You see a curfew would kill a tavern, and this enraged him. He attacked my party with a pot of hot chili, blinding one person. Had they not let him be he would’ve used his wooden spoon, which also had chili on it. It was a ranged touch attack that dealt 1d2 fire damage and blinded them. I laughed just reading the stats and combat behavior and my party was laughing so hard I thought they would pass out.  I mean someone throwing a pot of hot chili on a cleric of Asmodeus, who is also Lawful evil, modeled after the bad guy from Pocahontas…who then screamed like a little girl…I’m smiling just thinking about it.

Imagine this guy covered in chill and screaming like a girl and not laugh
Imagine this guy covered in chill, screaming like a girl, and trying not to laugh

Another funny encounter, a buddy of mine and fairly green G.M. (Gamemaster) was running Mutants and Masterminds. I was playing a mutant with healing powers who was running a faith healing tent. I was doing my healing thing when a man in Iron Man like armor, showed up. He called himself the Jimanator and he was going to run this town now. My character was confused, even more so because he had no interest in running anything. A band of Heroes showed up and rescued me from…the Jimanator. What made this encounter even better was how tough he was. That armor was really good; he slung us around like we were jokes. Which, since a member of the party was from a sacred order of Janitors charged with watching powerful people, wasn’t too far off. The bad guy made sure to refer to himself as the Jimanator whenever possible and it was one of the funniest things I seen in a game.

These two encounters really changed my outlook on being a good GM. I always try to build epic encounters that push the party to their limits with villains you can’t help but hate and want to put in the ground. Yet there is something to be said for just being goofy. I wanted every encounter to be Helm’s Deep or the Battle of Amon Hen, but not even Lord of the Rings was serious the entire time.

A GM’s number one job is for the party to have fun, but as a GM I forgot the easy way to have fun wasn’t killing epic bosses but in trying to sneak a baby red Dragon though a Dark Dwarf city. Its not always about the most challenging encounter but about the most entertaining. Maybe I am not the only one to make this mistake but if I’m not, then take my advice: don’t be afraid to throw in joke encounters, don’t be afraid to make a villain look hilarious and foolish. Bring the silly guys! Bring the cute creatures that even the most hardened adventurer can’t help but be won over by. “Its a freaking talking cabbage patch kid that gets drunk!” Table top RPG’s can be hilariously quirky and we should embrace it whenever possible. But most importantly keeping things fresh and interesting isn’t always about making the encounter harder, but entertaining. After this, I know I will be rethinking plenty of encounters and I won’t be afraid to make something funny, when otherwise it could be hilarious.

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