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Dark Humor
In Delta's post about a game we played together recently, he said:

Now, I have a good friend Paul who recently ran an exceptional convention game a few weeks back. Philosophically, we tend to disagree about many of the high-level 'whys and wherefores' of D&D, but I think we almost always agree about whether a given game we just experienced was good or not (sort of an 'I know it when I see it' experience).
...
the [game] he ran the other weekend was one of the most fun D&D sessions I've had in a long time -- hilarious characters, great encounters, well-paced, filthy humor (which I like), great ending.


I like to think of our gaming philosophies as like chocolate and peanut-butter: each one great in its own right, but even better when combined. Dan always challenges me in interesting ways to improve my game, and I hope I have the same effect on him.

One place though where we out-right agree is the humor. I think this is the major draw for me to Warhammer FRPG. Taken on its own, the system isnt' fantastic. It has some nice elements (critical hits are fantastic) and some not so great ones (multiple attacks/parrying slow things down way too much). But clearly the best thing about it is the setting, and how the rules push that setting.

It's not like you can't do dark humor in other settings, but I'm sure it helps that it's right in the subtitle of the game: 'A Grim World of Perilous Adventure.' Setting the expectation before everyone sits down at the table I'm sure must go a long way in pushing that style. The rules themselves also push it, and we saw the pay-off in spades at last night's game.

After playing Warhammer over a long period of time, one of two things will happen to your character: he dies or goes insane. The interesting effect this has is that your party evolves into 50% lunatics and 50% fresh-faced newbies, or perhaps more appropriately comedians and straight men. Last night we had two straight men and three comedians, and it was gold.

The group had just emerged from a challenging dungeon and escaped a near TPK. It was the most dangerous kind of fight: a well balanced one where the bad guys were getting far luckier with dice rolls than the players. The problem of course is that the players correctly assume that they can handle the fight, but things just don't seem to go their way. However, after two near deaths the party actually managed to escape. Huzzah for players smart enough to flee when necessary!

So they wanted to blow off some steam, and the insanities kicked in. The halfling who thought he was a vampire tried to bite the dwarf's neck in the night. The dwarf then stayed up all night, didn't heal as much as he wanted, and then proceeded to locate the graves of two previous companions (the players of which were now playing new straight-man characters) to dig them up and get at a healing potion one of them had. Already in tears about the halfling vampire wanna-be, and knowing he had a new insantiy coming to him, after finding the healing potion the dwarf brought his old friends to meet the new 'Weekend at Bernie's' stye. I'm sure it was made all the more funny by the slight discomfort the other players had at seeing their old characters treated this way.

It got so ridiculous that I could barely wheeze out the next punchline between gails of laughter. The entire table was in tears. Now, I'm not saying I want this to happen at every game, and recovering from moments like this and getting back into the game can be difficult. Still, I'm sure everyone is going to remember this session far better than most, and we'll be cracking jokes about it long after this campaign is over. And that, I think, is what gaming is really all about.
July 29th, 2009 - 08:36 am | Comments (0) | PERMALINK

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