I didn't really intend to have a monthly theme for these slightly-more-in-depth-looks-at-things-I-enjoy, but February certainly had a pretty powerful Science Fiction vibe. Actually, with the exception of January's one DC HEROES entry, they've all been largely Sci-Fi focused. That's not surprising I guess, as Science Fiction, and SF gaming, is probably my favorite genre, and subject.
More surprising is that it occupied so much of Thorough Thursday, a series focused on things I haven't talked about enough. How is it that there are so many Sci-Fi things I haven't posted much about in the last 6 years? What the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks?!
For March, I thought I'd go a different way, and talk about one of my favorite RPG genres (or perhaps subgenres) that I haven't given much attention to recently, and which, in my humble opinion, gets very little internet love at all. Since that is the true theme of Thorough Thursdays, I figure I'm on the right track.
Let's talk comedy, shall we?
The one trait I undeniably inherited from my parents, and grandparents, is my sense of humor. Yes, we Dicksteins, and Einsteins, are genetically funny.
Appreciating a good comedy is appreciating the skill, dedication, and natural talent it takes to unite witty dialog, physical performance, and of course crackerjack accurate timing to create something truly spectacular. Yes, to me at least, comedy is art, and I fancy myself an artist dontcha' know.
So it is that I have a very strong affinity for comedic Role Playing Games. Finding a way to make a game cohesive as story, functional as a game, and consistently milk-out-of-the-nose inducingly hysterical is no easy feat.
Billy Murray looks eerily like my dad in this shot.
Over the years (and there's been a lotta them) I've run a fair amount of humorous RPG campaigns, and one-shots. I don't feel I am exaggerating, or boasting (OK, maybe a little boasting), when I say I've probably run more campaign length comedy RPGs than the average GM out there.
I might be wrong, but it never seems like anyone talks very much about comedic gaming, and when they do it's largely short campaigns, and one-shots. If anyone knows a blog, or other site that talks about humorous campaigns in detail, please send the info my way!
My approach to humorous RPGs is, like many things I do, possibly a little off the beaten path. I am hoping at least one of my old players will pipe in to confirm that, while unorthodox, our way of coming at the subject always works.
It is usually too much pressure to be funny all the time. A major league false assumption when running a comedic game, is that the GM needs to be hysterical. This is not completely true (although it helps). What a comedy game GM needs is a good sense of humor. That is not always the same thing as being funny.
You need not be as proactively comedic as you are good at recognizing comedy. You need to get when things are funny. Comedy, like so many things, is subjective, but if you are playing with a group of friends, chances are you're all going to be laughing at the same jokes more often then you're not. If you don't share someone's sense of humor, your relationship with them (regardless of what kind of relationship) isn't going to last.
Once you know when something someone does, or says is funny, you'll start to realize that gamers are constantly being funny. We can't help it. It could be the use of puns when naming characters, the ever present Monty Python quotes, or just our appreciation for the moments where we poke fun at ourselves. Whatever the cause, the effect is that no gaming session goes by without at least 45% of your session time lost to laughter.
To me, that's the way it should be.*
Throughout the month of March, expect posts on comedy RPGs, comedic game advice, and some Thorough Thursdays entries that truly near, and dear to my heart.
As always, questions, and comments are welcome. Share your experiences running comedy games, ask me about mine, and see what the future holds for the Barking Alien blog.
Remember, "Death is easy, comedy is hard".
*Unless you are running some whiny, angsty, emo game full of pain, and despair. Then by all means, do not be funny. Avoid chuckles, giggles, and especially guffaws at all costs. Do not, under any circumstances, 'lighten the mood'.
Enjoy. I mean, don't. Your welcome.