My group just met the enemy they’ve struggled through the Underworld oceans to destroy. She is old, she is scary, and she wields deadpan sarcasm as a secondary weapon. The players love it; I can’t figure out where it came from.
Part of it is probably my tendency to fall back on certain character types. I have a friend who does hot-blooded a lot, and another who tends toward the straight man in any group—I play deadpan snarkers armed with razor wit. I try to vary them up; one will be more in the humorous vein or played for laughs, one will be more irritable, one will favor backhanded compliments. But they just keep sneaking in.
Part of it was the door incident. It had started the previous session, when the group reached her underwater station. Malice wanted to minimize damage to her submersible (she can fix it absurdly efficiently, but it’s better to never break it in the first place), so after the group took out her servant, she left the approach to the docking bay open. To her irritation, they decided to ram her anyway; living up to her title, she decided to try to maneuver them into breaking more than they’d bargained for. Then the group got in, was unopposed making it to her central chamber, and after a half-hearted attempt to push the door open, demanded that she open it. Insulting their intelligence was pretty much inevitable at that point.
And then there was the potential for lampshading. Let’s face it, if something seems narratively improbable to me, I can’t help but hang a lampshade on it—and if I’ve got a character on the scene, particularly an antagonist, it’s usually their job. Between the group forgetting to actually walk in the door when she opened it, and their apparent insistence on treating her underwater research station like a dungeon crawl (they had a rather low opinion of her explanation that putting traps on the door really wasn’t necessary, particularly as isolated as she was, and only interfered with her lackeys’ work), Forged in Malice had a field day pointing out all the dubious genre assumptions and picking on the group’s basic reasoning.
Besides—the group wouldn’t stop talking. I admit, I love them for it—but while they tend not to want to start a battle, I’m not too fond of it either. So instead they dueled with insults, and how else could I get a character taken seriously but by making it clear that she’s a master of the weapon of choice?