D&D Ideas — Comedy
Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is comedy, which we discussed in our weekly live chat. We hangout every Monday evening at 8 p.m. EST on Nerdarchy Live to talk about D&D, RPGs, gaming, life and whatever nerdy stuff comes up. Speaking of comedy in Wooden Dragon clever kobolds use a quirky magic item and ingenuity to make their way in the world. Kobolds pilot a wooden dragon construct to terrorize travelers and exact a toll to pass along with 54 other dynamic scenarios in Out of the Box. Find out more about it here. You can get the Nerdarchy Newsletter delivered to your inbox each week, along with updates and info on how to game with Nerdarchy plus snag a FREE GIFT by signing up here.
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Find and enter the week that was! Tap into places of power, play a know it all character, light your way with a sentient infernal turnip and so much more plus new live chats with creative folks and industry pros and live game play rounds out this week’s Nerdy News. Check it out here.
Delving Dave’s Dungeon
Comedy in tabletop roleplaying games like fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons is something I’ve never taken part in specifically. What I mean is they weren’t comedic games. The reason I’ve never played in the comedy genre in RPGs is because the typical D&D games I’m involved with include plenty of joking and messing around during the sessions. Maybe if our games were more serious then I would have been more driven to seek out comedic games. Funny moments seem to spring up both in the game and just around the table.
One kind of comedy that does show up in our games a lot is puns. Whether it’s a player who creates pun characters or the Dungeon Master sneaking puns into the game via encounters and storylines. As a player and DM I’ve never been at a table without at least one punster involved.
A couple of areas where I see humor sneak into the game are silly NPCs and magic items. Not long ago we did a video about a magic item Ted created called the Croak Cloak. You can check out the video here.
Thinking about comedy as a D&D trope got me thinking about magic items. Therefore I give you Monster Feet.
Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)
The appearance of these boots varies by the type of monster they represent. There are 14 kinds of monster feet based off of creature types. They always appear as the feet of a monster from a particular type of creature based on monster type.
While you are attuned to monster feet you can use your bonus action to change the appearance of your feet to that of any creature of your monster feet type. Anyone tracking you while monster feet will determine them to be that particular monster up to and including extra limbs. Senses like truesight can pierce this ruse. You also have advantage on Charisma (Deception, Intimidation, Persuasion) checks made to influence any creatures of your monster feet type. In addition once per week you can cast the shapechange spell limited by your monster feet type (including undead or constructs).
While attuned to monster feet you acquire one of the following quirks:
- You take on the eating habits of one of the creatures of your monster feet type
- You become a hoarder or trophy taker
- You have a distinct odor based off of a creature of your monster feet type
- Your eyes take on appearance of a creature of your monster feet type
- You either attract or repel domestic animals
- You give off a false aura of creature type to divination magic
- A tattoo related to a creature of your monster feet type appears on your body
- Your skin takes on the texture of a creature from your monster feet type
From Ted’s Head
Comedy is a topic near and dear to my heart. I love to laugh and truly treasure those who frequently make me laugh. There’s a few things in the mechanics of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons with tones of comedy. Tasha’s hideous laughter and vicious mockery spring right to mind. In Critical Role Matt gave out a wand of smiles, which is a common wand that makes a creature smile if it fails a saving throw.
Comedy can be taken up as a theme for a 5E D&D game where silly antics are the norm and the goal is to keep everyone laughing. You could play a comedic character whether it is through humor or just bad decisions. These can be really fun and funny characters to play.
When I look back to the shows of my childhood the antics of them can be ridiculous. How many stupid things do the villains say, plan and do? I look at Megatron and Starscream from Transformers. They had poor plans and always retreated when things started to go poorly for them. This concept is not used often in 5E D&D but still doable. I look to Skeletor from He-Man and his stupid minions who seemed to fail at everything.
If you are looking to run a 5E D&D game like this the actions and goals should be bigger and the failures need to be spectacular — on both sides. Looking at these old ’80s cartoon shows no one ever dies. So if you take up this concept with the fear of losing a character removed players are free to get into describing the failures. They can even use the opportunity to take it upon themselves and fail at things just for the comedy value. Dave is really good at owning failures when he rolls poorly.
You can take just about any typical campaign concept and make it humorous. A haunted house scenario could take after an episode of Scooby Doo. If you wanted to do a political game it would be easy to add in those over the top personalities and accents that would get people laughing at the table. Plot lines could either be direct to add more layers of comedy or you could still have a complex game bouncing back and forth between higher levels of thinking and some slapstick levels of humor. It all really depends on the experience being sought by those at the table.
From the Nerditor’s desk
Comedy is entertainment consisting of jokes and satirical sketches intended to make an audience laugh and when it comes to fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons or just about any other tabletop roleplaying game I am all about this life. Like any other aspect of a 5E D&D campaign you can think of comedy as a dial groups can turn up or down and for me the default setting is pretty high.
Incorporating comedy into games doesn’t by virtue of inclusion mean a campaign or story doesn’t have stakes and serious moments. Many of the most highly regarded comedy and comedians in our own real world tackle serious issues and topics through the lens of comedy. Like it’s opposite tragedy (next week’s newsletter topic) comedy can be cathartic for both the source and the audience.
When Dave began this live chat asking me if I enjoy comedy in my RPG experiences and if I’ve ever played a comedic campaign. To me the question itself is comedic because heck yes I enjoy it and there’s always elements of comedy. What can I say? I’m a funny person who likes to laugh and elicit laughter from others.
The impetus for suggesting comedy as this week’s topic came from recently binge watching the fantastic Amazon original series Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Of course like countless other nerds out there I wondered what I could takeaway from the show for 5E D&D inspiration and as it turns out there’s quite a lot! We discussed the possibilities in the chat at Nerdarchy Live and Dave’s idea for an Otherworldly Patron inspired by my spirited advocacy for the show planted itself in my mind. So here’s a new eldritch being 5E D&D warlocks can strike a bargain with and don’t worry — they only take 15% of the cut.
Your patron guides your adventuring career. They are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day business affairs of their warlocks, advising and counseling such individuals concerning professional matters, long term plans and personal decisions which may affect their career.
“Managers have relationships that agents don’t have — relationships that allow you to meet writers, producers, and other people that aren’t just based in a specific project. These are people who are planning to do things, who could put you in their plans. They can connect you with writers who can write specifically for you. And they do put pressure on agents to produce and bring you more work. Or they’ll help you find an agent who can do that.” — Samuel L. Jackson via MasterClass
Expanded Spell List
1st level Manager feature
The Manager lets you choose from an expanded list of spells when you learn a warlock spell. The following spells are added to the warlock spell list for you.
Manager Expanded Spells
- 1st. Alarm, Tasha’s hideous laughter
- 2nd. Augury, find steed
- 3rd. Catnap, motivational speech
- 4th. Divination, Mordenkainen’s private sanctum
- 5th. Geas, mislead
1st level Manager feature
Starting at 1st level, you learn the message cantrip, which counts as a warlock cantrip for you. You also gain proficiency in the Performance skill.
1st level Manager feature
Starting at 1st level your Manager handles a lot of business behind the scenes to help ensure your performances proceed without any problems. As a bonus action you can target one creature within 30 feet who can see and hear you. The target must succeed on a Charisma saving throw or have disadvantage on the next ability check, attack roll or saving throw they make until the start of your next turn.
You can use this bonus action a number of times equal to your Charisma bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
6th level Manager feature
Starting at 6th level, you learn the sending spell, which counts as a warlock spell for you.
In addition as an action you can choose one of the following magical effects: a witty anecdote, a dramatic anecdote or a boring anecdote. Any creature within 60 feet that can hear you must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or be affected as described below. Creatures that can’t be charmed are unaffected. An affected creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to your Positive Exposure for the next 24 hours.
- Witty Anecdote. The creature is charmed by you for 1 minute. If you or any of your companions harms the creature the effect ends immediately.
- Dramatic Anecdote. The creature is frightened for 1 minute.
- Boring Anecdote. The creature falls asleep and is unconscious for 1 minute. The effect ends if the creature takes damage or if someone takes an action to shake the creature awake.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
10th level Manager feature
Starting at 10th level whenever a creature within 60 feet of you dies you gain temporary hit points equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1) and have advantage on all attack rolls, ability checks and saving throws until the end of your next turn.
14th level Manager feature
When you reach 14th level you are a headliner! Even your enemies show respect and deference to your talents. You can use your action to assume the persona of a star performer for 1 minute. During this time any creature that attempts to damage you must first succeed on a Charisma saving throw or be charmed until the end of their next turn. A creature charmed in this way must use its action praising you. You can’t regain hit points, including through magical healing, except in response to another creature dealing damage to you, which is reduced to 0 and you regain 1d6 hit points.
You must finish a long rest before you can use this feature again.