I'm creating a story based on the D&D Forgotten Realms campaign. Considering the main adversary in this case is a balor demon named Bob, an ally of the adventurers is a gold dragon named Joe, etc.

How can I add humor to this story without destroying the action? Can you also add some examples? Also, the characters should have all the abilities and weaknesses of a true D&D character such that I can create a stat block for each of them that can actually make sense.


One easy way to go about portioning humor is picking a comical character (or two) and peppering the story with their wit, ineptitude, craziness, grave pessimism, or whichever other approach that makes them humorous that you like.

In D&D settings that character would traditionally be some kind of bard, a person whose job was to be funny - making all the companions the butt of his humor and annoying them to no end, being a pragmatical coward in face of impossible odds, or opposite, charging bravely on the forefront with a song on his mouth. ("I was trying to bluff!")

While the rest of the team takes the reality of the world in all seriousness, he keeps a healthy distance. Which may get him in trouble or resolve problems in equal proportions. Let's say the dragon introduces himself as Joerniperissimus Nightmare of The Dreaded Gorge and the joker is the one to address him as Joe first.

  • Your Joe nickname reminded me how Mad-Eye Moody called Voldemort in Harry Potter and Methods of Rationality (hpmor.com): Voldie – Honza Zidek Oct 17 '18 at 8:26

You've gotten a good start with the name. Part of humor comes from confounding expectations.

So you have this big snarly demon... named Bob. Maybe the damsel in distress is a guy in drag who was just trying to avoid the draft, and couldn't get out of his lie fast enough. Maybe the hero reveals he's bi, and that he's entirely cool with a male damsel. Maybe the bad guy is four kids operating a suit of armor by remote control. Maybe the hero's mage is Sherlock Holmes.

Go through the D&D tropes and turn them sideways. How much you pile on depends on whether you want it to be merely funny or a rip-roaring parody which still plays by the rules. (Which I would totally read, by the way.)

  • Thanks! However, as I have changed this question a little bit could you add more to this answer? – h313 Dec 17 '13 at 20:36
  • @Randumbness My answer stands. If you want to get more into the nitty-gritty, that's a discussion which is not on-topic for this SE. Try Writers chat. :) – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Dec 18 '13 at 10:56

This question made me think of the Goblins webcomic that has a very cartoony/silly approach to D&D-style fantasy, while still allowing for some interesting story-telling and character development.

Having said that, I feel that in order to find humor in the fantastical I would say finding how far you want to take that humor would be a big part of it. The Hobbit is peppered with light humor of the world and the various quirks of the characters(Especially their races.) while something like say Disc-World is humor-driven unto itself with plays on names, locations, and characters that mimic more "Serious" fantasy settings and stories.

In the end, it just depends how big a part you want humor to play in the story you are trying to tell.

  • 1
    I see your Goblins and raise you Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic and Order of the Stick. When it comes to comics in a D&D-type universe with well-defined rules, actions, character development, good story-telling, and humor, Goblins is ok, but it's kinda the kid stuff. OOTS and YAFGC are really good (and good inspiration for Randumbness; Bob in YAFGC is a beholder). – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Dec 25 '13 at 22:37

I think the paladin and the cleric should be madly in love with each other, and keep trying to convert the other to their religion so they can get married. This gives you a great time to call someone a heretic during lovers quarrels. This can be made funnier if the religions are closely related like Methodist and Lutheran, and the other guys are followers of widely divergent religions like if the barbarian was a druid and the elf was constantly visiting witch doctors and fortune tellers.

I also recommend the web comic "order of the stick" and the book "one quest hold the dragons".

  • Wow that is an awesome idea! However, I still have 1 more question to ask of you: who would be the most suitable deities for each character from the FR Campaign Setting (e.g. a dwarf would worship either Moradin, Claggeddin, or Dumathion, while a Drow would worship Lloth)? – h313 Dec 18 '13 at 1:00
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    I am not familiar with your specific setting, so I picked religions that are well documented. I picked the two protestant religions because they share a common origin, and their differences are minor, the other two religions were picked because they are condemned as evil by almost all christian sects, and then I swapped them giving the elf a barbaric religion and the barbarian a religion often paired with elves. such reasoning can be easily adapted. – hildred Dec 18 '13 at 1:08
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    urg. Can I veto this? The "People's Liberation Front of Judea vs. Judean People's Liberation Front/Splitter" jokes are only funny for about five minutes, if you're as talented as Monty Python. Then it becomes painful. Using religion to keep people apart just isn't funny at all. If you want to give one character a deliberately silly religion like Pastafarianism, go nuts, but please don't make it a bone of contention. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Dec 18 '13 at 17:59
  • @LaurenIpsum what makes it funny is that they are ignoring the big questions and concentrating on the details that don't matter, specifically in that they are not trying to convert the heathen. – hildred Dec 18 '13 at 18:04
  • @hildred Sorry, does your post above not explicitly say "and keep trying to convert the other to their religion"? That's the part I'm not going to enjoy. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Dec 18 '13 at 19:05

I'm not suggesting migrating the question, and of course this is several years old. But I've noticed in the RPGs.StackExchange they often discuss balancing humor and action, and that may be another way for anyone finding this question from the future to address it.

Some Q&As there that may be relevant: https://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/8002/how-do-i-get-my-pcs-to-not-be-a-bunch-of-murderous-cretins - the Question lists some satires, and also how horrific the game would is if things are taken literally -- sometimes ultra-realism can be darkly humorous.

https://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/134590/how-do-i-deal-with-players-who-make-friends-with-goblins?noredirect=1&lq=1 -- I love this question because I'm doing my first D&D this weekend, and my character is a rogue dwarf with a sage background, and I'd totally rather make friends with everything, instead of being a murder-hobo. My friend picked my weapons and battle-stuff because it's so beyond my own worldview. For YOUR writing, this could imply having some characters who are genre-blind, and don't "know" that Combat Is The Goal, or other assumptions most take for granted.

https://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/140796/how-can-i-play-a-dumb-and-un-charismatic-character/ - just that question alone is almost as brilliant as "How much mayhem can I wreak as a sentient fish?" (I think from worldbuilding? It was on the Hot Network Qs page). But another great option for humor -- whatever the dominant trait should be, this guy has the opposite. Like Rincewind in the start of the Discworld series -- a wizard, but he couldn't do magic. Have a weak fighter/barbarian (brave, but can barely lift a bag of flour, so has to attack differently.) A clumsy, not quite charismatic Rogue. A Dyslexic wizard, so their spells come our "wrong"? (Since it's a story, not a game, you're not bound by stats limitations!)

I hope you come back and comment with a link to your finished work!

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