The Bloodbowl 4e post with the actual rules is taking longer than planned to finish and the Ennies application process deadline came and bit me in the a$$. Instead of posting part 4 of my Dungeon Reality Show this morning, I’m posting another of those Friday questions. I’ll post the DRS one as soon as I’m done with the application.
I’ve spent the whole week discussing a D&D adventure concept that doesn’t even try to take itself seriously. I don’t know how many DMs are like me, but I don’t shy away from injecting some silliness in my games. Be it silly voices, or dropping a pop-culture reference in-game, or having a NPC make a crude joke about something that happened at the table and outside of the game.
In my long running (and rarely posted) review of Robin Laws’ Book on Good Game Mastering, I discussed briefly about a campaign’s tone. This is the general feeling that you campaign takes. When you talk about Grtty realism or Heroic cinematics, that’s usually Tone.
In that sense, a silly tone is one where things aren’t taken seriously and many conventions, clichés and tropes are played for laughs.
I don’t think that you can build a long lasting campaign entirely based on silliness because chances are you won’t be hitting the motivations of some players. Players who like to be Outliers and troublemakers would probably get a big kick out of it, however, players who are really into story-telling and Psychodrama probably won’t find what they’re looking for.
Yet, in controlled doses, I think that silliness can be a add a new fun dimension to a game and even serve to increase immersion. For example, in Paizo’s first adventure of the Rise of The Runelords Adventure Path, goblins are protrayed as homicidal clumsy clowns. The DM is encouraged to play them as silly as possible. When I ran the adventure , I played them like they were taken directly from the Muppet Show and directed by George Lucas!
The players ate it up and loved it. Even after almost a decade of playing D&D 3.x, we had turned a tired encounters of goblins into a laugh fest.
I believe that a big part of the fun of Roleplaying games is that they can elicit strong emotions. The game you remember the most are the ones that made you go through a gamut of emotions. Laughter is one such very strong emotion and when laughter is created from a situation “in-game”, I believe that it leaves a lasting impression.
I strongly think that in controlled doses, once in a while, silliness can be a boon to an otherwise serious game.
What do you think? How does silliness manifiest itself in your games? Do you have examples when it was used (intentionally or not) that improved a game session? Do you have examples that causes sessions to crash or nearly so? Tell me!
Have a great weekend.
Image Credit: ~malta at Deviant Art