Monday, July 25, 2011

Is Vanilla D&D More Fun?

As I've lately been wracking my brain over what sort of game I would like to run next (even though all my choices are only slight variations), it struck me like an epiphany that vanilla D&D with humans/dwarves/elves/hobbits might actually lend itself better to actual fun.

Sacrifices and silliness: can they co-exist?

I've been looking a lot at a more S&S or Carcosa-style game, but I find myself getting very self-serious when I start going down that path. Perhaps it is more of an issue with me than the genre. Sure, S&S makes for the best novels and such, but personally, I have the most fun when people are joking at the table and goofing around and doing crazy shit. When there is the ever-oppressing and uncaring Outer Dark in your game, is it still possible to have such antics? Does having an all-human campaign remove the opportunity for jokes at the expense of the effeminate elf, or the short dwarves and hobbits? Is it possible to run something a bit gonzo like Anomalous Subsurface Environment using only barbarian/sorcerer/thief-type characters?

I've never really run anything too far from vanilla D&D, with the exception that we tend to have a lot of monster PCs, which certainly don't detract from the silliness, so I'm curious about this. I would love to hear from anyone that's run an S&S-style game that could give me some insight on the matter.


  1. I've been having a similar dilemma. Dwarves and elves, however much I'd like to erase their presence have a bunch of great in-jokes associated with them.

    What I've been trying to do instead, is create new jokes within my dungeon. For example, I have one of apprentice's quarters in the first level with a letter of expulsion on the desk and hidden needle in the bed.

    Similarly, I have a gold plated sculpture of the solar system in another room. One of the planets has been stolen. The berserk are using it for now using as a ball for sports.

    It's the little details that can lighten up the mood. As long as the players don't think its inappropriate to make jokes, they will flow as normal.

  2. I agree. As long as the jokes are all in the context of the gameworld, these things can really help make a setting come alive. If, on the other hand, the berserks were playing baseball with the planet, I'd be grinding my teeth.

    It all comes down to what the players want. Personally, I hate anachronistic jokes (bye bye wall) but some of my table-mates love em.

  3. I think the humor comes from the players, not the props - if you've got a fun group, you don't need the dwarves and elves for comic relief, something else will pop up.

    I would have dropped the demi-humans from ASE except my players like them, so yeah, they're not integral at all. Some "history" goes away, but it's not like the players are going to know that.


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