Having a funny game without making it a joke


Advice


Hello, i am a relatively new to pathfinder, i am the GM of a homebrew campaign, which i play with some friends.

I'm having some trouble, it seems the more we joke around and have fun, the more outlandish and funny character's i make, the less serious do the player's take the whole game. I want to have serious and meaningfull moment's in my campaign, and i also want the players to have allot of fun.

Do any of you have some suggestions on how i can keep a balance, on how i can switch from funny to serious within a session, so that my campaign can have a serious impact in some moments and we can laugh in others?


Ah, the very best games I've played and ran have this quality of sharing joking/serious times! Try making a mental separation between the situations. Join in on the jokes! When you are ready to get back to the serious stuff, a simple, "Alright, let's get back to the story..."

If its really difficult to separate the two, talk about it a little beforehand. Tell the group that joking and enjoying yourselves is PART of the fun, but that you'd also like to have a serious effort at the story itself. If everyone is on the same page, it will probably be easier.

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I think the first step should be to just talk to your players about the kind of game they want. Are they in for The Two Towers badassery or leaning more towards Battle of Five Armies light & fun? Just make sure you're all on the same page as far as expectations.


CrusaderWolf wrote:
I think the first step should be to just talk to your players about the kind of game they want. Are they in for The Two Towers badassery or leaning more towards Battle of Five Armies light & fun? Just make sure you're all on the same page as far as expectations.

I'll do that the next time we play then. Good idea. Still open for more suggestions!


Terronus wrote:

Ah, the very best games I've played and ran have this quality of sharing joking/serious times! Try making a mental separation between the situations. Join in on the jokes! When you are ready to get back to the serious stuff, a simple, "Alright, let's get back to the story..."

If its really difficult to separate the two, talk about it a little beforehand. Tell the group that joking and enjoying yourselves is PART of the fun, but that you'd also like to have a serious effort at the story itself. If everyone is on the same page, it will probably be easier.

Yes, i will have to some way or another talk to them about this... I'm not sure of how i will phrase it, i don't want to tell them how to play their characters, but i still want the best of both worlds...


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We've had a similar experience to you - when we dip into silly/humorous for a while, it tends to quickly spiral so that nothing in the campaign matters anymore (including the PCs). Perhaps it's worth making a clear distinction between comic relief characters and everyone else who will always be serious/respond in character.

I think another thing worth looking at is that comedic moments doesn't need to include "joke" in character comments. That was one of the killers for us - people insulting the king or mocking some potential patron and then immediately saying "I don't really say that, of course".

For our group, we also tended to get carried away with silly nicknames for NPCs/places/deities. Once that gets entrenched, I've found the players never really treat that entity with respect.

I'd recommend listening to a couple of episodes of the Glass Cannon Podcast. In my opinion, this is something they do exceptionally well - they have serious moments of roleplaying but they also regularly dip into joking around (both in character and at a more meta level). They also break both of the suggestions I made above, but they still manage it well.


We often ask questions to which we already know the answers but are having trouble coming to grips with the answer.

It sounds like you don't like the dynamic and want to change it.

So change it.

Easier said than done. Many of us have a joking personality. It's how we relate. We find it funny. It comes naturally. As DM, you need to set the tone and prepare yourself mentally to be serious. Players usually follow suit. Be prepared also to slip and joke and have fun. I am in the same boat with you and want to run a serious campaign. However, it wouldn't be a session between friends if someone didn't sing The Final Countdown and someone didn't declare someone's power was over 9000 or ask, "Do flowers grow here?" in an Austrian accent. We get it out of our systems and move on. There is no perfection.


Ok, so for the next session there's gonna be a new character which is basicly comic relief. In the same session something really big is gonna happen, a monastary, which they've visited allot, and done several quests for is gonna be destroyed by the villain, which i'm gonna introduce for the first time.

I'm wondering wether i should put in the comic relief character or not, since i really want the event to impact them...

1. Should i keep the comic relief?

2. If yes, how specifically should i switch between comic relief and serious time?

I know you've answered this, but i want something specific and applicable, i'm having a tough time putting it into practice.

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I have a lot of luck by GMing as the straight man.

What I mean by that is that my campaign notes, adventure outlines, etc. are all written seriously. I plan the game as though it is a serious fantasy campaign and let the PCs add the comedy.

This allows for zany moments as the PCs do wacky things. At the same time, however, since the setting/adventure is designed in a serious manner, there's room to snap back to something more dramatic when appropriate.

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