Comedy in RPGs

Episode 127: Comedy in RPGs

We’re back and we’re splitting our sides, busting a gut and otherwise rupturing ourselves in the pursuit of comedy. It’s rare to find a gaming table where no one is laughing, even if the subject of the game is grim or horrible. Whether we like it or not, humour is a big part of RPGs. We may play Call of Cthulhu to scare ourselves, but more often than not, we dispel that fear with laughter. Sadly, the converse is rarely true, otherwise, games of Toon would end in glorious, screaming terror.

Toon cover

Or even more so, in Matt’s case.

Main Topic

It may seem odd for a horror podcast to discuss comedy in RPGs, but as we’ve mentioned in other episodes, humour and horror often go hand-in-hand. Both rely on build-ups of tension, released by an unexpected, absurd or extreme revelation. And, obviously, both involve clowns.

Unsettling clown

Mr Tickles wants to play a game with you.

We talk about the role humour plays in our games, what it is that makes a game funny and how this can all go wrong. Sometimes we really don’t want a game to be comedic, and while we can never cut out those moments of release, we offer some ideas about how to encourage a more serious tone. There are also types of humour we might not want in our games, and we talk a little about how to address this when it comes up.

News

Matt recently received his long-awaited copy of the Temple Edition of Call of Cthulhu 7th edition. This might be the most expensive RPG book ever produced, and Matt talks a little about what makes it so special. He has also written a detailed article about his new precious, accompanied by plenty of photographs.

Covers of the Temple Edition

Possibly the most expensive RPG book in the world.

As we mentioned recently, The Lovecraft Tapes podcast has been running through Scott’s scenario Hell in Texas, from The Things We Leave Behind. Gabe from The Lovecraft Tapes interviewed Scott about the scenario, Call of Cthulhu and some other, rather strange things. Be warned that this interview contains mild spoilers for Hell in Texas.

Other Stuff

Laughter can be musical, like the chimes of delicate bells cascading in delight. Sometimes, however, it is nasal, braying or discordant, grating upon the nerves, leading the listener to imagine smothering the person laughing, or ripping out their vocal cords. The same is true of singing. We leave it to you to determine which applies to our latest efforts. Once again, we have two new $5 Patreon backers to thank in our own exuberant manner. We certainly laughed during the recording session, although maybe not in an entirely wholesome manner.

There was a major omission in the show notes for episode 91. During the episode, we discussed the use of ambient music to build atmosphere in games. I recommended the music of Brian Lavelle and promised to link to his Bandcamp site. I then forgot to do so when writing the notes. Apologies for that! You can find his work here.

night-ocean

Being old and out of touch with such things, I am not sure which musical genre would best describe Lavelle’s work. He describes himself as a Scottish sound artist, which leaves the field pretty open. His music is electronic and ambient, often unsettling without being overpowering. Most of the tracks I’ve heard would make perfect background music for sessions of Call of Cthulhu or any other horror game. The Night Ocean and his most recent release, Rune-Filled Eyes, strike me as especially well suited for this.

rune-filled-eyes

All of Lavelle’s tracks can be streamed from his Bandcamp site, allowing you to try them before committing any money. If you do decide to buy, the downloads are priced extremely reasonably. Listeners from overseas will also doubtless benefit from the weak British Pound!