Oh, Right, Humor!

I learned something new today: game is just plain different when I’ve got a character without a name.

It’s something I’ve sort of known for a while. We’ve had games where the character was thrown together at the last minute, and the less we’ve backstoried, the sillier we’ve gotten. I almost wonder if it’s the point at which the character gets a personality for me that I stop being able to do truly silly; once they’re real, I start thinking about dignity, and there goes the neighborhood. This lot, though—nobody had a name, nobody had a backstory, and nobody cared. We were all too busy teaching the local kobolds to be bankers and working with them so our swag could be gotten to safety while we kept moving.

While I wouldn’t say that being high-immersion and being high-humor are necessarily mutually exclusive, I can’t say that they haven’t interfered with each other in my experience. My humor tends to be incidental, more internal than external; snarky characters, narrative one-liners, the occasional insane plan. But this one was as much external as anything. We used the first plan that came to mind, regardless of how bizarre it was; when something went wrong, our first contingency ended up being even stranger. The tabletalk didn’t hold back—and I think the fact that it was live meant that it influenced the flavor far more. I certainly haven’t seen something this silly in the game I run in a while (all right, except for the time when the hamster was in the mecha and a bunch of constructs were doing Hoka impressions in hopes that that would annoy a being too powerful for the group to actually fight into incompetence), and the GM of the last-but-one really long-running game I played in seemed to think that our occasional absurdities ruined the epic.

Sometimes you just need to goof off. I’ve seen two ways of doing that—either the game is specifically set up so you can just get all the silly out, or you’re just in a position where nothing is making a clear sign not to be silly and nobody really cares how absurd it is. What we had was the latter. No names. No attachment to the setting. Nothing holding us back.

I can’t say it was perfect, but I can definitely say I had a field day.

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