In Which I Teach the Jokers D&D: RPG Actual Play

Hey again everybody.

This is a little story from when I was still living in Scotland. Now, to clarify: first, the Jokers of the title are a group of Australians, one of whom is a former comedy colleague of mine from back in the old country. Now, they’d been jetting around Europe on a binge of new experiences, and realised at some point that they had never played Dungeons and Dragons. For privacy, lets call these guys Jerry, George and Kramer. So, in their ignorance, they approached me in the hope that I could DM for them. Now, those who know me know that I don’t really get along with D&D, so for the nitpickers what I gave them wasn’t actually D&D. What I gave them was a lazily reskinned version of the Hollow Earth Expedition’s Ubiquity rules with enough Lord of the Rings and Adventure Time references to make it seem authentic.

So that did away with things like feats, classes, levels, and firm ideas of good and evil that would normally annoy me. What it produced was a sort of deranged psychadelia that was somewhere between Looking for Group and In Bruges. This was not aided by Jerry, my former comedy comrade, having bought litres of Sainsburies budget cider, scotch and Irn Bru.

So, I brewed up these characters over a lunch break at work, and then did a half arsed series of “how do you know each other” questions. So, given the circumstances, this is what the guys came up with.

Jerry chose the thief option, and came to the conclusion that he was a depraved drug dealing Hobbit named (I think…) Lenny. He is deeply dissapointed in his son, Aragorn, for the boy’s lack of adventuring spirit.
George went with the ranger, going with the ever popular name Aragorn, and named his wolf companion Pongo. As it turned out, he was a half elf half hobbit, Lenny being his father. Despite his father’s wishes, Aragorn really just wanted to dance and introduce rhinestone body jewelry to the Dwarf diaspora.
Kramer went with the barbarian option, an Uruk Hai of ambiguous gender who was Lemmy’s current lover, named (perhaps…?) Rok. Ze did not got along with Aragorn, disliking the smell of his soap. Ze had a bear spirit totem, because I was drinking and playing Shadowrun Dragonfall a lot at that point.

So, that was the party we started out with. Not traditional, by any means, but you replace D&D morality with something a bit more relativistic and you can work cider soaked wonders.

Wonders and horrors, as it turns out.

Our story begins with our strange group being summoned by Cerwyn Kneesmasher, Godfather of the local Hobbit mafia, who wanted a group of professional murderers to look into something for him. They were to travel two towns over, to Brookmeadow, and find out why an associate of his hadn’t sent a package. In exchange for this they would each receive a “fuckoff pouch of gold”. Aragorn attempted to negotiate for more, and received the response that Cerwyn would break their legs if they failed in the assignment. So they agreed. Lenny picked Cerwyn’s pocket, finding a ring labelled “totally not cursed” (every hobbit should have one), and threw himself out the window. Rok and Aragorn left by the stairs, stopping to pull Lenny out of the hedge.

Cerwyn had recommended that they stay at the town of Happyhat halfway along their journey, so the gang started hitch hiking. When an old peasant on a cart rolled up,  they promptly killed and butchered the horse. The peasant continued to chew his piece of grass, fairly unsurprised. The party debated what to do now that their only transport was crippled, and Rok ended up pulling the cart. They camped for the night, Rok climbed a tree to go on lookout, and promptly fell down again when Aragorn shot zir in the buttock. Lenny chewed him out while applying ointment to Rok’s wound, until Pongo ate his stash of hallucinogens and ran off screaming into the woods.

In the morning, the adventurers realised that Rok could no longer pull the cart with zir wounded leg. Thus the gang started walking. Aragorn stopped to put an arrow through the old peasant’s head as he sat by his cart. The arrow went through, but the old man kept chewing his blade of grass.

A week later the characters arrived at Happyhat, lost and on the edge of starvation. Lenny decided to sneak in, and when he did not return by morning the others went into the town and find him sharing a chicken with the town’s morbidly obese mayor. Lenny found the mayor’s chatter irksome, and seduced him, Aragorn filming the resulting orgy with the help of a local wizard. As the shoot proceeded, the mayor explained that all was not well in Happyhat, with Heckroaster the dragon returning tonight to collect on demands they could not meet.

After the shoot was over, Aragorn went looking for some repair work. He found Granite, a dwarven smith who was currently working on a dragon restraint collar. Granite was cagey, but Aragorn broached the subject of whether she would be interested in some intimate rhinestone apparel.

He woke up later that night with a hammer wound to the head, hanging naked from the town gate with his genitals covered in rhinestones. Rok and Lenny came to rescue him as Heckroaster approached, Rok chopping down the gate and trapping Aragorn beneath it.

Then, Heckroaster burst through the treeline, fiery breath lighting up the night. Lenny fled in terror, and Aragorn screamed for Pongo. Rok was the only one who realised that the dragon was made of papier mache, and piloted by five gnomes.

After a brief battle in which Rok used zir own flaming, oiled body to destroy the dragon and Lenny returned only to be knifed to death by gnomes. Rok managed to kill the remaining gnomes with zir fuckoff big axe, and prayed that Bear would revive zir fallen lover. Bear, being a fairly forgiving character, returned the depraved Hobbit to life.
Meanwhile, after a still tripping Pongo chewed through Aragorn’s bonds, the eflhobbit began hunting naked through the streets, looking for revenge on the dwarves. He was confronted by Allejandro Montoya, the notorious dwarf ninja, and held at nunchaku point briefly before shooting him through the eye, killing him instantly.
It was around this point that the question was asked what they were meant to be doing here. I responded that Happyhat was meant to be their rest stop.

Having defeated the “dragon”, Rok made it’s head into a cape, and the gang continued to Brookmeadow. Where they found their contact murdered, and descended into a self destructive cycle of drug use and uncertainty. That’s where the session ended.

So yeah, heroic fantasy at its best.

It was interesting to play with newbies, especially with the express idea of making the session as madcap as possible. I inevitably improvise most of what goes into an rp session, and the Jokers latched onto making this fictional world as strange as possible. Veterans of improv games, I knew they would have a good time with the collaborative storytelling element of the game, but I was surprised at how exciting they found rolling the dice. Which was interesting. I suppose I always phrased it like a wager, and it got really good results.

So. That was weird.  Have a good one folks.