Article Header Image
The Joke's On You
Dungeon Editorial
by Chris Youngs

You just don't know where or when the funny will jump out and bite you.

You see, we were looking for a gnome. He had some information we needed, and thanks to some savvy Streetwise checks, we knew where and when to find him. The thing is, when we got to his office, rather than wait in the queue to see our would-be informant, we … well, we kicked down the door.

The gnome panicked. Who wouldn't? If a bunch of folks armed like a medieval SWAT team kicked in the door to your office, you'd likely freak too, right? Well, that's what the gnome did. He hit a snappy button on his desk and dropped through a trapdoor escape hatch, setting off a skill challenge chase through the city streets. Did I mention the gnome had a slave ogre? And that he rode the ogre like Master Blaster through the crowded city?

It sounds absurd, goofy, and yes, funny when I relate the story now. But in Chris Perkins's campaign, this is par for the course. Naturally, we were agog at a gnome riding an enslaved ogre like some bestial warhorse. What followed, however …

You see, succeeding (and we did succeed) at the chase skill challenge was only part one of the equation. Once we'd captured the gnome and rendered him unconscious, we had to slip away into the bustling city and evade the militia bearing down on us. That skill challenge -- that one we failed.

My character is a filthy liar. He lies even when it doesn't suit him, even when doing so might be disadvantageous. As curious onlookers saw us "escorting" our new friend away, now swaddled in a heavy cloak, I thought that dousing him in some ale and claiming he was my drunken companion, passed out after a night's hard partying, would be smart. Only, I rolled a natural 1 on my Bluff check.

Rodney Thompson, who wasn't paying attention to my feeble story, then turned to tell a different passer-by that "the child" had fainted at the sight of so much drama in the streets. Turns out his dice had visited the same pile of suck that mine had, and our back-to-back failed checks were sufficient to seal the deal on that skill challenge.

Of course, the best part was that we weren't paying attention to one another and mixed up our stories, Chris penalized us appropriately (invoking a penalty on Rodney's Bluff check), and we ended up cracking up the entire table with our combined story about buying booze for minors.

In the spirit of April Fool's, humor's been on my brain a fair amount, and one of the regular questions we hear at shows is why we don't do more "funny adventures." I'm sometimes tempted, but this episode really enabled me to put my finger on why I feel that doing so isn't a great idea. The best humor doesn't come from the printed product. In fact, humor integrated into an adventure always feels forced to me. The funniest moments at the game come from the people at the table.

When you're sitting around with your close friends, jokes are inevitable. D&D is no exception. We know that humor at the gaming table will be there whether or not we try to inject it. Plus, sense of humor is about as subjective as you can get. A joke that sends one person into spasms is likely to get a blank stare from another. No, we think the jokes are best left to you and your table. And to April Fool's Day, of course.

What about your group? Do you have a story about events at the table contributing to a humor-based meltdown? Or do you disagree about the effectiveness of humor in published products? Send your stories and opinions to

Follow Us
Find a place to get together with friends or gear up for adventure at a store near you
Please enter a city or zip code