6d6 Fireball

D&D Humor

D&D Is No Joking Matter

I can’t remember a game session where at some point everyone was not laughing. Playing D&D is fun and the wise-cracking and joking that goes with it are as much part of the session as rolling dice. Yet there is not the great repository of RPG jokes or Dungeons & Dragons cartoons you would expect. Why is it a hobby that can create so much mirth and be filled with so many creative people, produce so slittle written D&D humor.

The Joke is on Us

There is no doubt that role-playing gamers are geeks and nerds to the core. Even those of us who haven’t seen every episode of Star Trek:TNG and don’t work in the computer industry are pretty geeky by everyday standards. And there is one defining feature of a geek or nerd – poor social skills – and telling jokes is about all social skills and having the art of developing a rapport with your audience. It is hard to tell someone else’s jokes let alone develop our own brand of D&D humor without these skills.

RPG Jokes

There are D&D humor and RPG jokes out there but most are either pretty poor or just so geeky it is embarrassing to admit you understand the jokes. However a few people have brought role-playing and humor together.

Murhpy’s Rules

D&D Humor Murphy's RulesThe first and possibly most successful take on D&D humor genre is Murphy’s Rules. Originally appearing Space Gamer magazine, these cartoons poked fun at those little inconsistencies in the rules of RPGs, wargames and board games. The cartoons now appear in Pyramid from Steve Jackson Games and a collected Murphy’s Rules is available.

Snarfquest

D&D Humor Snarfquest Appearing in Dragon magazine during the eighties, Snarfquest was the first D&D humor comic, long before Knights of the Dinner Table or Dork Towers. Written and drawn by Larry Elmore, who went on to produce some of the most memorable D&D artwork, Snarfquest followed the hapless adventures of Snarf. Mostly slapstick humor, it wasn’t specifically D&D humor or even general RPG jokes, but a gentle riff on the whole fantasy world idea. Sadly, the collect book of Snarfquest is no long available.

The Geek Humor Revolution

Prior to 1997 Murphey’s Rules and Snarfquest were pretty much it for D&D humor but then the internet started to bring geeks together. Suddenly there was a market for geeky comics and titles such as Knights of the Dinner Table and Dork Tower took off. Unlike previous attempts at RPG based humor, these comics focused as much on the life of the players as it did on the game itself. It wasn’t until 2003 and the web comic The Order of the Stick that D&D jokes came back into focus. Since then there has been an explosion of web comics covering every aspect of a gamers life and some of them even managed to be funny.

The Written Word

Its notable that everything above is comic or cartoon humor. None of it is the written word. Authors like Terry Pratchett have taken off the fantasy genre but it seems that much of the D&D experience doesn’t translate into the written word very well. Certainly not if you are trying to find humor as well. On the net there are some very occasional gems, such as Celebrating 30 Years Of Very Stupid Monsters.

A D&D Joke

When is comes to straight jokes, the sort a stand-up comedian tells, they are very scarce. Fortunately most jokes are very adaptable so you can produce your own D&D humor. For example this classic:

Person 1: My dog has no nose!
Person 2: How does he smell?
Person 1: Terrible!

can easily be adapted, e.g. “My dragon / orc / troll / etc has no nose!” though I recommend you start with a better joke. Check out Laugh Lab for scientifically proven better jokes.

Professional D&D Humor

Even for professional comedians, such a geeky subject as role-playing is hard to make funny. In Tough Gig with Dara O’Briain, Dara has to spend two days with a bunch of live-action role players and at the end, perform a gig based what he has learnt. You can watch parts 1& 2 but part 3 below contains the actual performance.

Die Laughing

Whether it is because the sort of people who play D&D lack the social skills necessary to tell jokes or whether D&D is simply not a very rich vein of comedy I don’t know, but we seem to lack a large body of D&D jokes. Having no illusions of my own ability to tell jokes I will pass over the opportunity to fix this state of affairs and leave you with this pure D&D cartoon from Murphy’s Rules.

D&D Humor Murphy's Rules

13 thoughts on “D&D Humor

  1. admin

    There may be some truth in that. Certainly all the fit, energetic ones did. Running around in the woods was to much like hard work for me.

  2. Al

    Have you met a LARPer ?! I don’t think extrovert geek works as a description. Deeply disturbed nutcase with serious reality issues is what I’d call one. And drinking our of a pewter tankard does NOT make you a viking. ;-)

  3. keithehlert

    not all gamers are ”geeks”! i am a 49 yr old ex-marine ( 12 yrs ) and a journeyman carpenter , matter of fact i’m a redneck at heart and a active civil war reenacter.i’ve been playing r.p.g’s since 1981 and my group consists of construction tradesmen and none of us are geeks , so stick your ”geek” comments up your bunghole!
    maybe you consider yourself a geek , oh well , but dont try and profile everybody , gamers are a diverse lot , one of the guys in my group rides a harley.
    nuff said!

  4. DANN

    my group consists of: an ex army infantryman, an army combat medic, an electrician, a construction worker, a professional ballet dancer, an agricultural inspector, a truck mechanic, and two college students. in short, we are not these geeky losers you think most gamers are. And I’ve been gaming since 1995.

  5. kihaz

    its a fact that most roleplayers aren’t geeks at all
    the average dnd player is quite intelligent but has nothing to do with the geek or nerd type

  6. Nshado

    I think in the past when computers were hobbies of “geeks” it may have held true…but when PC’s hit the scene it changed. Our gaming group played every Saturday for 20 years!! A more diverse group you’d never find. Why play? It’s more fun than the weekly card games (boring!) and cheaper than therapy!

  7. Don

    I think nerd, or geek was just a generalized term for the RPG’er when there wasn’t another term available. When I started playing in the mid-nineties D&D and the like were still underground and in some circles D&D was still considered evil, or satan worshipping. Now, though, D&D is largly accepted and better understood. Vin Deisel and other big name celebs have helped put D&D and gamers in the mainstream, and have shown its not just “some geek game”. My group are anything but geeks, and while we do have 2 college kids in our group, they are not the typical college gaming geek. One is in business management, while the other is studing to be a doctor.

  8. mnky

    yes, you are geeks. all of you posters here looked for, found, and posted on this site. you are indeed a geek and the fact that you defend against it so angrily only makes you appear more geeky :-) (oh and especially the civil war reenacter guy.)
    and yes, me too :)

  9. Aidan Blant

    I am an avid cross-country and track athelete, and an outstanding FFA member, my favorite hobby being roleplaying games.

    I am a geek.

    I am a geek, as you all are, geek is not wearing hitched up pants, pocket
    protectors, and using an inhaler every five seconds, it’s being a person that cares more about their interests than they care what others think about them. Whether it’s roleplaying games, LARPing, being a history buff, or video games (think 80′s 90′s more than today), we ignore conformity and do what we like to do simply because we like to do it.

    It usually carries with it the stereotype of introvertedness and intelligence mostly because it’s true. Geeks are smart, and smart enough to know that being popular and following trends means nothing in the end and you should do whatever you find enjoyable.

    Also: saying that you or your friends are studying medicine, are veterans, or own a harley does not make them “not geeks”. Look at your friends when you play, that excitement you see when they play, the enjoyment when they discuss their characters and campaigns is what makes them a geek.

  10. ST Intervention

    Q. Why did the skeleton not want to fight the 8th level Barbarian?
    A. He didn’t have the guts.

    Q. Why did the half man half dragon usually arrive late?
    A. His tail was always draggin (Dragon). (Work with me on that one.)

    Q. Why do Dwarfs and Halflings hate amusement parks?
    A. They are too short to ride any of the rides.

    Ok that being said Ive been gaming for about 13 or 14 years, I story tell (DM) many different kinds of games and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say all us gamers are geeks…. although there is a good chance I am…. We ARE a diverse lot and not everyone I have met that is a gamer is a geek. Not at all. I will admit many of us have certain tendencies that would lead people to think we are all geeks but that certainly isn’t isn’t true of all of us. We are just a very imaginative lot. Anyhow, till next time, take care and make sure to wear all your +1, +2, +3, ect items of protection. They could save your life. Yeah… no geeks here. LOL!

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