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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Comedy and Horror, Terror and Laughter, Fear and Humor – There is an inescapable link between them, almost like they sit at opposite ends of the same spectrum.
The two states can even look strikingly similar in extremis.
I would go farther than saying it’s OK for humor in an horror game, I would say it’s preferable.
Laughter in a game, even a tense one, can serve to heighten the plunge into the depths of horror. Light and shade provides the contrast needed to feel real fear. After all, life is rarely (if ever) entirely one or the other.
Personally, there is little more satisfying than turning a laughing hopeful band of investigators into a shrieking horrified mess. 😈
On a side note, I was both stunned and disappointed that none of you, English men all, used the phrase ‘Titter ye not’ in this episode.
Oh! I also think a mention of The Laundry would have been in keeping with this episode, it is definitely a combination of humor and Cthulhu.