Skip to main content

H is for Humor

Either the delight or the bane of a GM's existence, humor seems to be almost omnipresent in roleplaying games, or at least in their implementation.  I've played "serious" games before, games where the plot was grim, the tone dark, etc.  But it is hard to sustain, particularly over time.  At some point, someone cracks a joke or does something wacky and everyone is laughing.
For some GM's, this is extremely frustrating. I saw a Call of Cthulhu game at a convention get wrecked because two of the players were complete clowns.  I've seen tense moments get ruined by people who rely on humor to manage discomfort.  That's some of the difficulty of the craft there.  (It's also a good reason to get the social dimension diffused by eating dinner first, as I mentioned in my last post.)
But I for the most part just roll with it.  I tend to run fairly light-hearted games without a lot of adult or serious themes.  For one thing, my son is in the game, and he is still a little young.  I also just like to laugh myself, probably more than I want to tell a gritty story.  It's a great payoff when you can do a serious game that really sucks people in, but I don't find such games a joy to run long-term.
By the other side, I'm not a huge fan of silly games like Toon or Paranoia.  Those likewise seem to have little long-term appeal to me.  For me, the sweet spot is something akin to the television show Burn Notice--serious plot, mixed humor/serious action, humorous interpersonal dialog.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A First Look at Prowlers and Paragons

For a long time I've been in the market for a new supers RPG.  Since running Marvel Heroic Roleplaying a few years ago, I've been looking at other games, including some that had been passed by the general public, e.g. DC Heroes Third Edition or Silver Age Sentinels.  This was based on the notion that supers RPG's are so niche and so under-performing as a general part of the RPG world that just because the game wasn't making a splash didn't mean it wasn't good.

Plus, I have my own tastes about what I like in a supers RPG, which I've touched on from time to time here, but to summarize I like a game that feels like a comic book, doesn't get bogged down in too much detail, but allows for PC growth and development in a tangible game-system way.  I also don't want to spend hours on character creation using a spreadsheet.  For that matter, it would be an added bonus if it could also accommodate a large number of players and didn't have glaring options…

Large modular dungeon tiles

I made five 4" by 4" dungeon tiles, which is 80 square inches, almost twice my usual batch of tiles.  When added to what I've done already, this is how big a single room I can make:


14 by 14 squares, with four squares to spare.  That's a pretty big room (70 feet to a side).  If I wanted to mix it up, I could build something like this:


I'm probably going to take a little break from this project.  It has turned out well, but until I'm closer to doing a fantasy game I'm going to focus on the games I'm actually doing.
Speaking of which, it's game night tonight...

Review: the Valiant Universe Roleplaying Game

Capsule: A near-clone of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying that throws out the good while keeping the bad.  Useful if you're a fan of the Valiant Universe.



I've been looking forwards to this game ever since Free RPG Day this year, although with some trepidation.  The rules were sketchy, and the free booklet promised more detail when the main rulebook came out.  I also snagged most of the additional free material Catalyst Games had put out as PDFs on DriveThurRPG, which gave me most of the major characters from the Valiant Universe.

Quick side note about Valiant comics, for those who don't know.  Originated in the 90's during the whole big indie comics movement that spawned Malibu, Image, and a host of others small publishing companies.  The early Valiant characters included a pseudo X-Men mutant youth team (Harbingers), a archtypal "Iron Age" gun guy (Bloodshot), the high-tech alien armor guy (the bizarrely named X-0 Manowar), and a quirky no-capes duo (Archer and Ar…