Literature / Binder of Shame

And that was how our party ended up being a dwarven fighter with a piece of broccoli for a head, a chick in a chainmail bikini, two wizards, the luckiest fighter in the world and a ninja brandishing the dreaded halfling on a stick.

Al Bruno III's series of allegedly-autobiographical stories about the Tabletop Games group he endured throughout his college years. Al himself, known as Ab3 on RPG.Net, is led to the group by his friend Weasley Crusher and rapidly finds himself forced into the role of the Only Sane Man of the group. Arguments, dysfunction, and Total Party Kills abound as they systematically ruin every game they can find, from Dungeons & Dragons to Call of Cthulhu to Rifts.

The title of the series comes from the philosophy of the Killer Game Master Psycho Dave: "Every D&D game has many binders but each D&D game must have a Binder of Shame and a Binder of Glory. The player characters that die heroic deaths are saved forever in the page protectors of the Binder of Glory. The characters that suffer, humiliating, soul-crushing deaths go into the Binder of Shame. It's a sign of quality GMing to have a Binder of Shame three times the size of your Binder of Glory."


This provides examples of:

  • AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: Biff Bam is an exCELLerant example of this trOUPe.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Most of the session's player characters are either Chaotic Neutral done specifically be malicious to the GM, which would technically make them Chaotic Evil eventually, or straightforwardly Chaotic Evil simply because they commit heinous acts and have no regard for the law.
  • Ambiguously Gay / Armored Closet Gay: Biff Bam; the one time he runs a game at his house he suggests that they deal with the heat by removing their shirts (and he's quite insistent on that); and he deals with players not liking his rulings by wrestling them to the ground; and he rules that failed SAN checks make the character act increasingly swishy.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different - Vaguely, in "The Good, The Bad, and The Feces." The entry centers around Ab3 testing out a different group, only to cause a problem with one of the other people's toilets and feel guilty about it. Later, he realizes that the plumbing in the house has had to be fixed numerous times, when he goes back to apologize to the Game Master at the time.
  • Angrish: Surprisingly, an averted trope. While it's clear that anger is a dominant emotion within the group, everyone is still linguistically comprehensible when they're in such a state.
  • Anticlimax: What normally happens within each entry of the Binder of Shame. Oftentimes, it's because Ab 3 decided to eject himself from the session completely, and other times it's because the campaign or session of note had to be destroyed in the most simple, efficient way possible.
  • Apocalypse How: Usually the end result of the campaigns or sessions which Ab3 partakes in.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: True to form for El Disgusto. In "The God Trip," it's explained he had been discharged from Harvey Whitstein's Martial Arts Emporium with a black belt. Of course, it's also explained that he was discharged because the rest of his clothes also became black from biological festering. Rather than acknowledge the black belt as being given out of pity and a want for El Disgusto to never return to the Emporium, it became an ego twist and El Disgusto legitimately thinks himself to be the reincarnation of a long deceased ninja: "Shinobi."
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Johnny Tangent, and Short Attention Span Larry.
  • Awesome McCool Name: El Disgusto's character "Lord Baron Whoopass Von Badass".
  • Berserk Button: The author, when he GMs, doesn't care for Monty Python quotes, and now twitches violently every time someone mentions the word "ninja".
  • Big Bad: Implied to be Psycho Dave. When his presence from the group is no more, the tabletop group as a whole begins dwindling, up until the finale, where Ab3 departs. It's noted in Second Edition that most of the time spent with Psycho Dave and the others was almost exclusively told in flashbacks.
  • Big Eater: Blobert Smith; in spite of it being hazardous for him to continue a largely gluttonous diet, he continues more or less due to wanting to be free to eat as he chooses.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Cheating Bastard compares stealing milk crates to "tearing the tags off of mattresses, trading bootleg videotapes and bestiality."
  • Butt Monkey: Weasley Crusher, and possibly Ab 3 himself. El Disgusto's dog Lamont gets this treatment as well.
  • Canon Defilement: In-universe, any and every game based on an established setting.
  • Chaotic Stupid:
    El Disgusto: “We’re Chaotic Neutral, that’s practically a get out of plot developments free card.”
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Most of them have their moments, but Johnny Tangent is probably the winner.
    Ab3: Night Ranger was a bitchin' band.
    Johnny: Really? I hate them, I just wear the T-shirt to remind me of my character class.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Part of the Cloud Cuckoo Lander nature in most of the people, with the surprising exception of Johnny Tangent, stems from this:
    • Collateral Darren, who believes resumes are useless except to make the paper manufacturers more money. Distressingly, no one can actually think of any reason why his logic is wrong.
    • Psycho Dave indulges in conspiracies against his would-be foes should they be of a minority or a group against his Neo-Nazi beliefs. This has led to him mocking Ab3's NPCs.
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Multiple people in Ab3's ex-group:
    • Biff Bam likes to think himself eloquent when, in reality, his quirk of phonetic pronunciation comes off as incorrect and tryhard.
    • El Disgusto masks his simplistic spite of Weasley Crusher and Ab3 with "ninja eloquence."
    • Blobert Smith comes off as someone who abuses a thesaurus, without irony.
  • Dirty Coward: Ol' Yellowbelly is aptly named. Ab3 lampshades it by mentioning how Yellowbelly's personality does not fit with any system that the group plays.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Psycho Dave turns Yoda into one of these in "Trapped in Jedi Academy."
    "Yoda force chokes you until you black out."
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe, Ab3 gets up and walks out once he realizes that Psycho Dave expects the group to help Hitler.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The entire damned group with the exception of Ab3
    • At one point it mentions that Ab 3 went into deep denial and actually convinced himself that this was just what a roleplaying group looked like, that this is how friends treated one another. The epilogue and the extra chapter, both happening several years later, reveals that he's come to his senses and has found a group of of supportive, likeable people to play with instead.
  • Embarrassing Slide: Deviant Boy and Asenath's photos from a gaming convention include some of these. Though Ab 3 seems to be the only one who's actually embarrassed by them.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Psycho Dave's games.
    • El Disgusto's house, too. It's littered with bottles of...post-consumer Mountain Dew. And one day the group comes in and notes that the walls are a completely different color, which El Disgusto mentions is because his parents had them cleaned; apparently the previous color was the result of toxic mold.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: One player is known as "Cheating Bastard". He is.
  • Extreme Doormat: Weasley Crusher is bullied by El Disgusto into buying pizza with the money he needed for insulin.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Psycho Dave. At the start of Ab3's tabletop adventures, Psycho Dave was seen as someone who, while eccentric, was relatively decent at GMing. When the session proper actually starts, it's made known that Psycho Dave is a white supremacist by The Amazing Boozehound. While during the first game Psycho Dave seemed to be affably awful, the facade was dropped in every other session since.
  • Funetik Aksent: Biff Bam's "habit of randomly mispronouncing things". The mispronunciations are capitalised so they're easy to notice.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Comes up from a discussion on homophobia, no less.
    Cheating Bastard: "...and that's how Biff Bam got thrown out of the Gen Con tournament."
    El Disgusto: "He was so robbed."
    Me: "Robbed? He was being offensive."
    El Disgusto: "Here goes Mister Politically Correct!"
    Me: "He said that Homosexuals should show up when you cast a DETECT EVIL spell. Does that Whack-A-Mole game you use for a brain register what that means?"
    Cheating Bastard: "Well he may have a point, I mean after all that kind of behavior goes against cultural norms."
    Me: "So it's OK to hack and slash non human races but it's evil for people for the same sex to fall in love?"
    El Disgusto: "Works for me."
    Psycho Dave: "Except for chicks. It's OK for chicks to make out."
    Cheating Bastard: "As long as they're hot."
  • Girlfriend in Canada: El Disgusto. It turns out she does exist—in fact, she's Asenath.
  • God-Mode Sue: In-universe (or in-game, rather) Biff Bam's favourite NPC, "Dick Marvil".
    • El Disgusto maintains that his ninja survives attacks because it hides in the shadows. Every. Single. Time. ("There are shadows in the afternoon!")
  • Gratuitous Ninja: El Disgusto's philosophy.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: The Amazing Boozehound's wizard character used a cat on a string as a weapon, and El Disgusto's ninja used Weasley's character.
  • Groin Attack:
    • El Disgusto apparently lost the tip of his penis when he frightened the dog into biting him.
    • Biff Bam's "PinchUrPeePee!", which is exactly as painful as it sounds.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: El Disgusto's temper flares up at perceived slights at the beginning, which culminate in spiteful aggression towards Ab3, the only person to normally be defiant with his ninja characters (on principle of them being the only type of character normally played). Said temper is exacerbated after "Reservoir Torgs," where it's learned exactly how bitter he is about his injury, to where he perceived the word "half-cocked" as a jab against him.
  • Helicopter Blender: In "Reservoir Torgs," everyone has derailed the campaign and is on the run from the law. El Disgusto's ninja finds his path blocked by a police helicopter and attempts to jump his motorcycle over it using a crashed police car as a ramp.
    "But my character's a ninja!
    "Correction. Your character was a ninja. Now he's confetti, wet red confetti.
  • I Am Big Boned: Biff Bam was kicked out of the army because he was "a little too manly" and they were "intimidimated" by him. He's not fat, it's untoned muscle, and he's as strong as Olympic weightlifters...honest!
  • I Call It "Vera": The "Stick of Pain". Word of God is that the Stick of Pain was a wooden yardstick.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Psycho Dave couldn't deny being "crazier than a crapfight in a monkey house" but objected to being called a "lousy Dungeon Master".
  • Incest Is Relative: On a few occasions, Deviant Boy has gotten away with Kissing Cousins as an excuse for perversions. At least two instances were cited: The first was with Weasly Crusher's character, and they had matching toe rings; the second was with Asenath during the "Trapped In Jedi Academy" episode and was mentioned as merely a footnote of the campaign.
    • In "Trapped in the Jedi Academy," Psycho Dave had mentioned bloodline purity regarding the Force when explaining why Darth Vader would want to marry Princess Leia. While it's possible this was just a reoccuring jape at the expense of Psycho Dave's Nazism (and Asenath's flipper arm when she "understood" Psycho Dave's version of Darth Vader), this and Deviant Boy's cousin-type characters suggest that Ab3's group had no regard for the negative repercussions of incest.
  • Intoxication Ensues: "Once More With Filking."
  • It Tastes Like Feet: El Disgusto apparently smells "like clowns crying."
  • Jackass Genie: Discussed during "A Night at the Inn, a Day at the Racists," when discussing how Psycho Dave (ab)uses his authority as a Game Master.
    "As you can see I soon realized that Psycho Dave ran a game in roughly the same way that Warwick Davis in the film Leprechaun granted wishes. Everything you said your character did was scrutinized for some way to screw you over and the dice ruled all. He was the only guy I know who used a random monster encounter chart for Call of Cthulhu. You haven't lived until you've had a character go mad because he saw a nightgaunt sitting in a restroom stall reading a copy of the Necrnomicon (sic)."
  • Jar Potty: The end of "A Night at the Inn, a Day at the Racists" reveals that El Disgusto has stashed a whole collection of bottles of Mountain Dew under the stairs, except it's not Mountain Dew in the bottles — as he explains, he doesn't like to go upstairs to the bathroom when he's watching TV, so he just goes in the bottles with the intention of throwing them away later. He hasn't thrown away a single one — some of them are crusted with age and other substances, which is exactly as disgusting as it sounds. This revelation, which capped off a truly nasty bit of gaming, was the "rock bottom" moment for Ab 3.
  • Jerkass: Everyone. Arguably the Ab 3 himself, with a hint of Unreliable Narrator, since it's clear his mindset wasn't too different before the end and he seems similarly willing to look down Asenath for her appearance. He has stated in a comment that he now views his past self as sometimes "worse than Blobert".
    • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: What ultimately separates Ab 3 from the rest of the tabletop group, outside of him being the point of view in each story, is that he actively tries to do good. He always had a delusion that maybe there was some good in the group he was with after all, only to be repeatedly proven wrong as even some of the more tame individuals - notably Blobert Smith and Weasly Crusher - show that they're ultimately unpleasant people in the finale.
  • Kick the Dog: Literally. El Disgusto is neglectful of and abusive toward his dog Lamont.
  • Killer Game Master: Mostly Psycho Dave, but everyone gets their turn.
  • Lame Comeback
    Blobert Smith: "Your xenophobic gibes grow wearisome."
    Psycho Dave: "And your ass smells like cheese, what’s your point?"
  • Large Ham: A majority of the tabletop ensemble act overly melodramatic, whether they're G Ming or not. Blobert Smith himself is more emphatic about vocalizing his woes and authority whenever he makes characters.
  • Life Embellished: Admitted. The first page of the Binder explains that some of the campaign sessions were far too traumatic for him to accurately remember everything, so when a lot of it is abridged as it is in later installments, Ab 3 has to fill in the blanks himself from either the muddled memories of his or from what he assumes happened.
  • Literally Minded:
    Blobert Smith: "I am afraid that I am still lost in my considerations of these damnable drama cards. Please explain it to me again."
    Me: "Look. It works like this. The cards let you do things that give a little extra 'oomph' to the game. They help your character to do things they might not be able to do ordinarily. Remember that scene in INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE where Indy shoots through like 8 nazi's? If that had been a role-playing game he might have done that by playing a Coup De Grace card... or rolling a heck of a lot of twenties."
    Blobert Smith: "So what your saying is- the Indiana Jones Movies had no scripts? That Steven Speilberg and George Lucas utilized drama dice and d20's to make story decisions?"
    Me: "That's not what I said! I said that if the movie had been a role-playing game those events might have happened because of Drama cards."
    Blobert Smith: "But it wasn't a role playing game. It was a movie."
  • Monochrome Casting: We don't get much information on what they look like (which is probably a blessing), but considering Psycho Dave's proclivities, we'd probably hear something about it if any of them were something other than White.
  • Munchkin:
    • El Disgusto wants to play a Ninja with a motorcycle in every damn game he's in, regardless of appropriateness for setting or theme. The type of Munchkin that he represents is "The Troll." His eccentricities and wanting to play a Ninja would ordinarily just be harmless and an extreme case of The Loonie, but El Disgusto's inflated sense of self-worth have constantly put him at odds with Weasly Crusher and Ab 3. El Disgusto never thinks of himself as in the wrong, instead surmising Weasly as just an easy target, whilst Ab 3 being rational just infuriates him. Whenever it's El Disgusto's turn to get comeuppance, he tries to Rules Lawyer his way through the problem and, when he can't, says Hastur's name or whines about it.
    • Cheating Bastard has an obvious nickname; as a Munchkin in practice, he was a supreme mixture of Gamebuster and Rules Lawyer. When he was exposed as a cheater, he pretty much was just not allowed to be in the group anymore since he refused to co-operate with the other player characters.
    • Ab 3 himself has had to Metagame his way in some of the more painfully brutal sessions. Of course, when such sessions involve Homebrew Hell, he doesn't seem like much of a Munchkin in comparison to Cheating Bastard or El Disgusto.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: See above. Most of the RP characters have at least a dash of this - see Deviant Boy and Weasley's incestuous lesbian stripper naval officers with matching toe-rings.
  • Noodle Implements: "Weasly had recently been expelled from college due to a freak accident involving a moped with faulty brakes, a Take Back The Night rally and an inflatable bath pillow."
  • Noodle Incident: "I don't owe you anything, I told you not to eat that damn salad in my car."
  • Nose Shove:
    "My character deals with his post-traumatic stress disorder by putting porridge up his nose on moonlit nights."
    "Why would he-"
  • Occidental Otaku: El Digusto's habit of playing ninjas implies this. When not allowed to play a ninja directly, as long as it relates to martial arts (such as a professor of occidental mythology) or at least the delusion of being a ninja in El Disgusto's character's mind, he does not seem to mind. Given El Disgusto's affinity for martial arts extends to outside of the tabletop game, one can assume he relishes in Japanese culture (or, at least, the Western perception thereof).
  • Off the Rails: "The God Trip."
    • In "The Dammed Treasure of Lord DeGreasey", the first installment of The Second Edition, Psycho Dave's character, a Deep One thief with 18/00 Strength, snaps the ribbed staff that used to be Weasley's character in half in order to destroy the tower and put a decisive end to Deviant Boy's utterly creepy campaign.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: To protect the author.
  • Only Sane Man: Ab 3 is supposed to be the main person who is the only sane one.
    • Weasly Crusher himself would have been this before Ab 3 was introduced to the group, as evidenced by some of his comments in various episodes.
    • Asenath also counts as zig-zagged variant of Only Sane Woman, if we discounted the fact she often encouraged Deviant Boy; she tried to tell him about her previous relationship with El Disgusto but only got the chance during "Reservoir Torgs," seems to react appropriately to Blobert Smith saying the wrong name in bed when they were a couple, and brought cleaning supplies to one of the tabletop games El Disgusto was hosting.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: Cheating Bastard's system from the chapter Monty Python Mishaps in the Deepest Pit of Homebrew Hell, which involves inverse drag coefficients, slide rules, and algebraic calculators. It takes two hours for the group to finish one round of combat.
  • Pet the Dog / Fridge Horror: Psycho Dave mentions that "even with the sniveling and whining" Ab 3 has been his best player.
  • Porn Stache: Deviant Boy has an "abnormally thick moustache".
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Psycho Dave (an actual Neo-Nazi), full stop. Especially when he's playing NPCs as blatant stereotypes.
    • Most of the other boys have their moments as well. This is especially obvious in "The Last Straw Trilogy Part Three: Once More With Filking," where they go after the author's future wife for being chubby:
    Ab 3: "And you’re not a Goth of size?"
    Collateral Darren: "Women always put on weight when they’re in a relationship; this girl already has weight to spare. Stick around too long and they’ll be taking off the side of her house to load her into a flatbed truck to take her to the hospital."
    Weasly Crusher: "Look I don’t mean to be mean but you know how it is. The hotness of the girl you end up with is a symbol of how well you’ve succeeded in life. If you end up with a model it means you’ve got it going on, if you end up with a plain Jane it means you’re middle management. A fat girl, Ab 3, that’s trailer park, man."
  • Pun: Schindler's Lich.
    • Puns actually frequently used for titles of various entries.
  • Punny Name: Weasley Crusher, Blobert Smith, and Collateral Darren (named after his Champions character Collateral Damage).
  • Rail Roading:
    Ab3: “Anyway, I am not running a game where you run around like a bunch of kill happy lunatics.”
    Blobert Smith: “In our defense it is what we do best.”
    Ab3: “No. In fact the god Boccob appears before you and says that for your crimes you must go to the Tomb of Shartok the Unattractive and retrieve the Xenon Codex. If not he will destroy you and the world utterly.”
    El Disgusto: “What’s in it for us?”
    Deviant Boy: “Now let me get this straight, we’ve got the god Boccob ticked off at us.”
    Ab3: “Yes.”
    Deviant Boy: “That’s Boccob the Uncaring.”
    Ab3: “For the last time yes. And he transports you all into the dungeon.”
    El Disgusto: “Fine we leave.”
    Ab3: “And he teleports you right back.”
    Deviant Boy: “Again this is Boccob the Uncaring doing this.”
    Ab3: “Must be having an off day I guess.”
  • Really Gets Around: By the final installment, Asenath has slept with every member of the group except Ab 3 at least once.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: Most notably, "The Day I Killed The Entire Party Before The First Combat Encounter", involving an incident with a character's motorcycle.
  • Rule 34: Deviant Boy's "Unified Porn Theory" involves attempts to find a single pornographic image which will appeal to everyone in the world. His first attempt:
    "It's a green-skinned large-breasted elf chick dressed like a Catholic schoolgirl ... and she's peeing on Mayor McCheese!"
    "Yeah, but it's missing something, isn't it? Maybe if it was two elf chicks ..."
  • Rule of Three: Invoked in the titles for the last six entries of the First Edition: The Prequel and The Last Straw entries both come in three parts each.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Most of Psycho Dave's sessions end in this from Ab 3. Those that don't often have a hefty consequence of some sort, such as him being late for work.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Blobert Smith indulges a charade of cerebral enlightenment, with Biff Bamm offering something similar. While Biff's verbosity and mannerisms bestow a neat discrepancy entertaining the possibility he's being self-aware of his Delusions of Eloquence, Blobert does not offer anything equivalent. Mr. Smith seems to have overloaded his cranium with radical liberalism which would, at least, put him at odds with Collateral Darren and Psycho Dave. Else, Blobert and Ab 3 seem like they would have engaged in camaraderie as diamonds in the rough.
  • The Scottish Trope: Invoked when El Disgusto's ninja summons Hastur when Cheating Bastard tries to kill him.
  • Stealth Pun: Weasley claims that if he met his D&D characters he would take them to Denny's "to apologise for the terrible rolls I make".
    • Most other people make these on the regular. An exaggerated instance of this was when The Amazing Boozehound became Rehab Boy for a while, which led to his quirk in "The Great Gamma World Death March" being making these and going "Ha-Ha!" at the end of them. Most of the puns made aren't as hilarious.
  • Stripperific: Asenath's outfit is described as "part schoolgirl outfit, part leatherwear".
  • Suicide as Comedy:
    "I trip and fall on my sword-"
    "Roll for it."
    "I fall on my sword again and again UNTIL THE HURTING STOPS!"
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: The basis of "With A Pinch Of Assault" was to play a D&D game without informing El Disgusto about it. Playing a game without him in the group seemed to be no small task, as he somehow knew where any game played within Albany was. With him, it goes even beyond the group Ab3 was in:
    "There was a time right after high school where he was involved in an rpg every night, and more frequently than not ruining them. He and his ninjas broke the faith of the Schenectady Christian Gaming Club yet also sent a group of guys that played Runequest in an old cemetery at night retreating to their church of choice. El Disgusto single handedly did so much damage to our the gaming community that some people suspected he was secretly a stamp collector trying to destroy our hobby from within."
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Psycho Dave.
  • Too Dumb to Live: "So you want to take a shortcut through the Desert of Certain Doom?"
  • Total Party Kill: Their record is three in one night - Ab 3 left when Psycho Dave suggested they try for a fourth time.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Ab 3 puts up with the group because he thinks the bickering is their way of showing friendship. He comes to his senses and kicks them out when they start badmouthing his new girlfriend. The fact that they allegedly slipped him acid that same day probably didn't help.
    • Although he may have been in denial about that; one early story mentions that, in spite of having sworn off gaming at the end of the last story, he came back because his only other option was another group of friends who liked to go to crappy strip clubs, and gaming with these freaks was the cheaper of two evils.
  • A Wizard Did It
    Psycho Dave, regarding the broccoli-head incident: "It's magic, I don’t have to explain it."
  • Work Off the Debt: Ab 3 is forced to wash dishes in a restaurant after the other members of the group leave without paying.
  • You Do NOT Want To Know: In regard to parts of Blobert's insane character backstories, among other things.

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Alternative Title(s): Binder Of Shame

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/BinderOfShame?from=Main.BinderOfShame