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    Absurdity, zaniness, puns, and other funny stuff
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    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 30, 2017
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    Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:07 pm  
    Absurdity, zaniness, puns, and other funny stuff

    Greyhawk includes, as we all know, a number of joke-names, anagrams, zany NPCs, and even a couple of funny and bizarre gods (Wastri, Zagyg).
    Some D&D monsters that are part of the setting are ridiculous by design, clearly meant to elicit a chuckle even as they murder, rob, or just mess with the PCs. Gelatinous cubes may be the best example.


    So, how funny or absurd is your Greyhawk?
    Anything published that you leave out or downplay for a more serious or grim tone?
    Anything funny or strange that you add for in-game comic effect, metagame jokes, absurdity fantasy stuff?
    Encyclopedia Greyhawkaniac

    Joined: May 29, 2018
    Posts: 316


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    Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:35 pm  
    Re: Absurdity, zaniness, puns, and other funny stuff

    NorkerMedic wrote:
    Greyhawk includes, as we all know, a number of joke-names, anagrams, zany NPCs, and even a couple of funny and bizarre gods (Wastri, Zagyg).
    Some D&D monsters that are part of the setting are ridiculous by design, clearly meant to elicit a chuckle even as they murder, rob, or just mess with the PCs. Gelatinous cubes may be the best example.


    So, how funny or absurd is your Greyhawk?
    Anything published that you leave out or downplay for a more serious or grim tone?
    Anything funny or strange that you add for in-game comic effect, metagame jokes, absurdity fantasy stuff?


    Im not good at humor. There has always been humerous happenings during the game nights over the years but Im not a zany DM. Zagyg, in my campaign, is a good example. He is erratic and random, helpful and downright sinister, but he isn't a clown or clownish and I don't care for the castle greyhawks I've seen published or heard about used in Gygax's home campaign. No alice in wonderland levels.

    Those April Fools issues of Dragon always made me feel like Id been cheated.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:48 pm  

    I'm fond of stuff like Bath-time for the Hopping Prophet and Vote for the Goat.

    Marvelous Talking Goat Party!

    Cool


    I also like Dungeonland and Land beyond the Magic Mirror quite a lot.


    I'm seldom amused by contemporary pop culture references and I don't care for corporate office satire. I liked Puppets just fine, but the 'Jason' and 'Freddy' bit didn't make me laugh.
    Poking fun at Gygax in the joke-module Castle Greyhawk, after what happened in real life, has always looked to me like a nasty move. Thumbs down.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 17, 2017
    Posts: 51
    From: 41°6'53"N, -73°24'21"W

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    Thu Dec 05, 2019 6:47 am  

    My group's not very familiar with GREYHAWK, so the closest to an intentional injection of humor is my cleric character, Kóri Brewster, worshiping Wenta and looking as if she belongs in Oktoberfest.
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
    Posts: 2495
    From: LG Dyvers

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    Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:27 pm  

    My campaigns include everything from serious horror to tongue-in-cheek humor. Rarely do I include something so ridiculous that it stretches the player's ability to suspend disbelief (though I suppose that is a matter of opinion).

    For example, I like my NPCs to have names that mean something. They don't always, because I don't want my players assuming that the name is a clue about the NPC, but frequently I will use names that provide a clue (e.g. 'Akkub' - the undercover Iuzian cleric residing in the Keep on the Borderlands), names that simply reference an interesting bit of pop culture (e.g. 'Kharma' - the chameleon familiar), or historical (e.g. 'Aspinet' - one of the first American Indian (a shaman) that helped the Pilgrims when they landed.

    I had Nix and Nox and Fenseq speaking in rhyme when my players encountered them in White Plume Mountain. Box and Cox even danced a jig while speaking in rhyme. It meant nothing. I just thought it was funny to confuse the players and cause them to believe there must be some important reason for them to act that way. Laughing Razz
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    SirXaris
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    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
    Posts: 389
    From: Canada

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    Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:25 pm  
    Re: Absurdity, zaniness, puns, and other funny stuff

    NorkerMedic wrote:
    Greyhawk includes, as we all know, a number of joke-names, anagrams, zany NPCs, and even a couple of funny and bizarre gods (Wastri, Zagyg).
    Some D&D monsters that are part of the setting are ridiculous by design, clearly meant to elicit a chuckle even as they murder, rob, or just mess with the PCs. Gelatinous cubes may be the best example.


    So, how funny or absurd is your Greyhawk?
    Anything published that you leave out or downplay for a more serious or grim tone?
    Anything funny or strange that you add for in-game comic effect, metagame jokes, absurdity fantasy stuff?


    I'm generally much more in line with Game Of Thrones than I probably would be with something like Discworld, in that I generally go for the grim, serious drama and hard action. Like Jason Zavoda, humor is not my strong suit.

    That said, I actually don't mind humor or in-jokes that don't wreck suspension of disbelief, as SirXaris touched on. Keoland's embarrassing military history is a running gag in my Canonfire writings, as is my depicting the Wild Coast as the metaphorical garbage dump of the Flanaess (and Narwell is a literal garbage dump!). I've also tried to think of adapting various real-life songs and poems into Greyhawk-a popular if lowbrow song could be "Rhennees, Tramps and Thieves", with the real-life references replaced with Greyhawk ones.

    Like you, I really can't stand blatant pop culture references. The reason why Gary Gygax's various pun names and anagrams work for me is because they aren't apparent to people who don't know about them. I never picked up on the references to Keoghtom, Tenser or Melf until they were pointed out to me, and I simply assumed he made the names up.

    I've done some of these types of pun names in my own Canonfire writings. If I quote "Sargent Silver", I'm referring to something written by Carl Sargent ('argent' being the French word for 'silver'). "William Of Skipperton" would be a reference to something Skip Williams wrote, and so on. I also envision the grand sage known only as the Lady Darlene as having founded the Greyhawk Cartographer's Guild, and in the near future one Annabee Mier will take up the position, being the most skilled member of her union. These of course, are references to Greyhawk geographers Darlene Pekul and Anna B. Meyer.

    Basically, while I'm generally pretty serious, there are a few moments of levity here and there that I think still fit in with the world. I really don't like anything too silly or absurdist that seem too out of place. It's actually conceivable that someone polymorphed into a goat could still talk, as things like that are common in old fairy tales. On the other hand, having Murlynd run around dressed as a Wild West gunfighter really doesn't do it for me.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Fri Dec 06, 2019 12:36 pm  

    I would happily run a Boot Hill crossover.
    Which, of course, is what happened with Murlynd and company in the Greyhawk campaign. The PCs went to the Old West.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 09, 2003
    Posts: 1239
    From: Clarksville, TN

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    Sat Dec 07, 2019 1:01 pm  

    Boss Dhaely of Chicago, uh, I mean, Stoink. Wink

    Post-Gygax, but Atonosoff, the gnomish cleric of Murlynd:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Vincent_Atanasoff
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 29, 2006
    Posts: 468
    From: Dantredun, MN

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    Sat Dec 07, 2019 4:17 pm  

    I don't add too much intentional humor. Laughs happen naturally when players live and die by their wits and dice. A couple exceptions:

    1) The players found an animated toy doll in a relatively-serious Dungeon Magazine module I'm forgetting that became a henchman. I used him to deliver one or two bad jokes every session that went over fairly well. Eventually the doll was crushed by a giant's boulder throw and that was the end of that.

    2) I ran WG7 for two groups. One loved it and played through L4; the other hated it and stopped at L2.

    3) some of the various rules and tables for "carousing" are pretty zany and entertaining. I used them for a couple years and the players burnt down an entire quarter of Nevond Nevnend.

    4) I almost never plan encounters so much that NPC's have a prepared script, but one week the players ended the session by buying a bunch of donkeys to go back and clear out the remaining loot in Quasqueton. Having placed the dungeon on the edge of an extremely lawful country (Tenh), I prepared an encounter with tax collectors in case they stupidly returned via the highway.

    The next week, the town guards duly noted the impoverished sellswords leaving town on their umpteenth expedition, with a train of new, unburdened mules. Thus, the tax collectors intercepted the predictable murder hobos as the returned with many fine furnishings and tapestries. When the party begun to protest the 50% tax rate and argue their benefit to society, I read a short speech I had prepared for the taxman "Aye, but who in turn protects YOU from monster and brigand, as you traipse wounded across the green fields of Tenh, your asses laden with treasure?"

    As fate would have it, the greedy dwarf PC immediately presented his character sheet. The party's most valuable gem was noted as being hidden in his "butt." His posterior was literally "laden with treasure." The game stopped and the entire table died laughing for about ten minutes and the party evaded taxes on their most valuable item.
    Encyclopedia Greyhawkaniac

    Joined: May 29, 2018
    Posts: 316


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    Sat Dec 07, 2019 7:38 pm  
    Re: Absurdity, zaniness, puns, and other funny stuff

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    NorkerMedic wrote:
    Greyhawk includes, as we all know, a number of joke-names, anagrams, zany NPCs, and even a couple of funny and bizarre gods (Wastri, Zagyg).
    Some D&D monsters that are part of the setting are ridiculous by design, clearly meant to elicit a chuckle even as they murder, rob, or just mess with the PCs. Gelatinous cubes may be the best example.


    So, how funny or absurd is your Greyhawk?
    Anything published that you leave out or downplay for a more serious or grim tone?
    Anything funny or strange that you add for in-game comic effect, metagame jokes, absurdity fantasy stuff?


    I'm generally much more in line with Game Of Thrones than I probably would be with something like Discworld, in that I generally go for the grim, serious drama and hard action. Like Jason Zavoda, humor is not my strong suit.

    That said, I actually don't mind humor or in-jokes that don't wreck suspension of disbelief, as SirXaris touched on. Keoland's embarrassing military history is a running gag in my Canonfire writings, as is my depicting the Wild Coast as the metaphorical garbage dump of the Flanaess (and Narwell is a literal garbage dump!). I've also tried to think of adapting various real-life songs and poems into Greyhawk-a popular if lowbrow song could be "Rhennees, Tramps and Thieves", with the real-life references replaced with Greyhawk ones.

    Like you, I really can't stand blatant pop culture references. The reason why Gary Gygax's various pun names and anagrams work for me is because they aren't apparent to people who don't know about them. I never picked up on the references to Keoghtom, Tenser or Melf until they were pointed out to me, and I simply assumed he made the names up.

    I've done some of these types of pun names in my own Canonfire writings. If I quote "Sargent Silver", I'm referring to something written by Carl Sargent ('argent' being the French word for 'silver'). "William Of Skipperton" would be a reference to something Skip Williams wrote, and so on. I also envision the grand sage known only as the Lady Darlene as having founded the Greyhawk Cartographer's Guild, and in the near future one Annabee Mier will take up the position, being the most skilled member of her union. These of course, are references to Greyhawk geographers Darlene Pekul and Anna B. Meyer.

    Basically, while I'm generally pretty serious, there are a few moments of levity here and there that I think still fit in with the world. I really don't like anything too silly or absurdist that seem too out of place. It's actually conceivable that someone polymorphed into a goat could still talk, as things like that are common in old fairy tales. On the other hand, having Murlynd run around dressed as a Wild West gunfighter really doesn't do it for me.


    I'm just reading a book of Fritz Leiber short stories and he has managed to work the name Seabury Quinn (a well known adventure pulp writer) into the character names. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith both did the same and worked each other's names into their stories.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 10, 2003
    Posts: 232
    From: Harker Heights, TX

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    Mon Jan 27, 2020 3:18 pm  
    spell puns

    I agree that the best humor is the type that just comes naturally in the course of gaming, rather then be forced. Pop culture references become dated fast, but for around the gaming table, they can lighten a mood.

    And sometimes the more under the radar puns are the best. I had a discussion thread where I discussed some of the more subtle hints in the spell components. Worth a chuckle on this site.

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=4669&highlight=
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 16, 2019
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    Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:40 am  

    My Greyhawk is quite a grim, low money, low magic place but I find that the odd bit of well-placed silliness helps to lighten the mood & stop it from just being a grind.

    My personal favourite was a challenge to the party of one-on-one combat by a goblin chief. The party's barbarian steps up & confidently starts laying into him, only to find the goblin growing bigger every time he hit it. Nilbog! Cue panicky retreat & exit stage left, pursued by goblins!
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