Web Video: Counter Monkey
Hail and well met, welcome to Counter Monkey. I am your humble storyteller Spoony, and I am here to tell you of my own epic adventures of the past, so that you might laugh... and maybe learn.
Counter Monkey is a Web Video
series hosted by Noah Antwiler, also known as The Spoony One
. In this series, Spoony recounts various amusing
stories from his Tabletop Game
days, as well as offering helpful tips and tricks for other GMs
. Also featured recordings of regular weekly Pathfinder
sessions played over Skype, based on the Kingmaker adventure path and starring many of the same players from his other campaign
. The name of the series comes from his days of working at a tabletop gaming store: "counter monkeys" was the employees' name for people who would hang around on the counter, never buy anything
, but just tell long rambling stories about their characters and campaigns.
Spoony originally wanted to publish it in a book, but it later morphed into a blog (which can be found here
, it also has a WordPress site
) and eventually into a video series hosted on The Spoony Experiment along with his other reviews. Spoony has also mentioned hosting a weekly podcast or still trying to publish the stories, but these have not yet materialized.
The series can be viewed here
or here on YouTube
- Aborted Arc:
- The Pathfinder campaign has effectively been cancelled as a result of Spoony leaving Channel Awesome.
- Even within the session this ended up happening; the character Gustave apparently had an extensive backstory along with a plotline that would involve clearing his name and avenging his family's murder. For much of the early campaign, Gustave acted as the leader of the group, and was clearly meant to be important. He ends up dying in the second session, during the fourth combat encounter the group faces, bleeding to death after being mauled by zombies.
- The plan for Spoony's group in his Thieves' World game was for Tempus Thales to be The Team Benefactor, setting them up with missions and loot and eventually taking over the city with them and making them his lieutenants. A well-aimed flask of acid quickly derailed those plans.
- A sequel campaign fastforwarding to the Baysib's conquest of Sanctuary was considered, but never came through due to a combination of the players going separate ways and the original campaign already having a satisfying enough conclusion.
- The dragon scroll plot from Shadowrun: The Code got aborted when the party tripped the alarm and, rather than doing the sensible thing of grabbing the scroll and bolting, they turned it into a senselessly brutal hostage situation that ended with a Godzilla Threshold Rock Falls Everyone Dies.
- Accidental Truth: Tandem the Spoony would boast of being 'the Greatest Swordsman in the World' just as part of his Awesome Ego character and it wasn't intended to be serious. When a sword specialist got offended by this and repeatedly got him into duels in an attempt to disprove it, though, Tandem managed to always beat his opponents by sheer luck, effectively becoming the Greatest Swordsman in the World. In the live session where he brings back the character the streak continues, all of his rolls are insanely good.
- A Fate Worse Than Death: A minotaur Player Character in "Thou Shalt Not Fuck With the Lady of Pain" did, indeed, fuck with the Lady of Pain, purely on account of a Bragging Rights Reward. He wanted to get mazed so that he could use a misremembered racial ability (Spoony is a bit hazy on the details in the video, but in some editions, minotaurs can intuitively navigate through any maze) to find his way out. That didn't help him when the maze turned out to be a single, hundred million-mile long hallway. Furthermore, the Lady of Pain's pocket dimensions are impossible to die in.
- All Men Are Perverts: A possible reason Spoony suggests for the fact that even experienced players fall for obvious traps in "Beware the Woman, For They Come From Hell".
- Alternate Continuity: He recommends doing this for any adventure set in an established continuity, such as comic books or television shows, because the DM will be able to freely change whatever aspects of the setting they wish. This solves several problems, mainly players familiar with the work calling out the DM on fudging facts about the setting, and the DM can counter players trying to be Genre Savvy by using their knowledge of the work to influence their decisions when their characters don't know what the player knows. He notes in a game about Babylon 5 that it didn't happen often, but if a player tried to use their knowledge of the show to influence decisions, he would turn it Wrong Genre Savvy by going against their expectations.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Any woman interested in sex, according to "Beware the Woman, For They Come From Hell." Spoony advises against running games this way, partly due to Unfortunate Implications and partly just due to how predictable it's getting.
- And That's Terrible: After relating the tale of the Toilet Pizza: "But honestly, that was like the worst thing I've ever done to somebody... because that was horrible. That was really bad."
- And the Adventure Continues: "Tandem's Last Ride" ends with Tandem and his party sailing off to explore unknown worlds.
- Angrish: During the Thieves' World campaign, nemesis Tempus Thales is about to give a public address announcing a price on the party's heads, but he's still so furious over being hit in the face with a vial of acid that he winds up pacing back and forth for several minutes muttering incoherently before he can bring himself to speak.
- This was also essentially Crazy Mike's reaction in "The Jedi Hunter" when Spoony first demonstrates the titular character's techniques via lighting his Sith Lord on fire.
- Anti-Climax Boss: The Dragon from the ConBravo campaign. The DM intended for it to require an army to defeat, it was hyped up throughout the campaign, and a four player party kills it. Moreover, one of the players is incapacitated for two turns after drinking poison, and the Dragon not only fails to hit any of the players, but it ends up falling flat on its face.
- April Fools' Day: 4/1/2013 featured a video where he continues a story from a long-previous video, which turns out to just be a retelling of Army of Darkness with Spoony in the place of Ash, masquerading itself as an interview with Gary Gygax. He purposefully accentuates all the things someone could dislike about his show, he swears often and nonchalantly, he tells Oreo to be as disruptive as possible, suddenly reads from the NC-17 cut of the Zantabulous Zorcerer of Zo movie from The Eighties starring David Warner as the Zorcerer, an RPG that requires owning a different, rare, expensive, and likely otherwise unrelated book, cost Spoony over 400 dollars, and has images of naked children, which he of course cannot show. He then tries to show the camera the pages tiny text, so as the audience can read it, while shaking the book. At the end he claims that Crazy Mike, the DM, died. He was struck by lightning indoors, leaving only some kind of green gelatinous blob, then leaves, saying he's going to masturbate furiously to a stuffed dog toy.
- The moral of the story is; have a character with a high intelligence and an alchemy skill, and you can figure out the recipe for gunpowder.
- Ascended Meme: Two years after The Squirt Gun Wars, Shadowrun 5th edition core book includes squirt guns for DMSO, as well as chemical protection modifications for armor to protect against it.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: He will often talk about something, then start going through his sourcebooks to find what he's referring to so he can show the camera, only to be distracted by something else he's seen while looking through the book and start talking about that instead.
- Author Vocabulary Calendar: Spoony really likes quoting the phrase "become king by his own hand" from the ending crawl of Conan the Barbarian.
- Awesome but Impractical
- In Age of Manure, Spoony warns against specializing in exotic weapons, as most DMs will not think to have things like Halberds, Nunchucks, Double Hammers, or similar as loot at the end of a dungeon.
- In "Dem Bones" he notes that some dice may look cool, but rolling with them is detrimental to gameplay due to them being hard to read or being shaped in a way that they don't roll properly.
- Awesome McCoolname: In "The Age of Manure", Bennett The Sage says that the D&D character he played when he was 13 was named Scythe Goemon.
- Awesomeness Is Volatile: In "Dem Bones" he relates the story of a player who rolled an oversized D20 die that rolled to a stop and then split apart. The DM didn't see the number but pronounced it a crit, because "if you roll so hardcore the die explodes, it's a crit!"
- Badass Decay: In-Universe, Spoony criticises DMs who don't play monsters intelligently from the POV of the monsters in "Circle Strafe". When DMs don't play them intelligently from the POV of the dragon, instead just doing it to provide an encounter for a party in a way that lets them all attack the dragon and often weakens the dragon in other ways. Spoony believes a dragon should always be a Final Boss and shouldn't be degraded in this way.
- Badass Normal: In "The Jedi Hunter", he recounts when he joined a Star Wars game, but didn't want to be a Jedi like everyone else. So he thought about what a non-Force-sensitive character could do to fight someone like Darth Vader who can deflect blasters and similar weapons with lightsabers and the Force (Spoony notes that this was before the prequel movies came out, so many pieces of media like Knights of The Old Republic that nowadays show how to beat a Force-Sensitive didn't exist yet). He reasoned that the best strategy would be to use weapons that Jedi can't block or deflect, as well as rely on the predictability of the other players and the DM, Crazy Mike, in the Force skills they likely haven't taken. In the end he created a Jedi hunter armed with dual armor-mounted flamethrowers, an armor-mounted electric net launcher (the net being capable of knocking people unconscious), a deck-clearing blaster (which he describes as a blaster shotgun), smoke and stun grenades, and he's rigged the hallways of his ship with explosives. He deals a Curb-Stomp Battle to two Sith Lords, blows up a third, and completely incapacitates Sith and Jedi alike at once, pissing off DM Crazy Mike with his antics. He also had additional weapons that he'd utilize in later fights, including spore-based tear-gas grenades that had a small percentage to kill instead of stun.
- Balance Between Good and Evil: Deconstructed in Laundry Day at the Tower of High Sorcery, wherein Spoony expresses confusion over why anyone would devote their live to maintaining neutrality. His argument is basically that if you consider keeping the balance to be a desirable thing, doesn't that make acting to keep it a good act in your eyes, and therefore you should view yourself as good?
- Baleful Polymorph:
- The players of "Vegan Steve & The Djinni of Jengai Fomogo" sought the eponymous Djinni to wish away a curse that would turn them into beasts.
- Manure golems in "Age of Manure" turned everything they touched into manure (or fellow Manure Golems, post-edit).
- Batman Gambit: In "Die a Hero & Die Long Enough to See Yourself Become the Villain," how Strahd manipulated Sir Stark (Spoony's paladin) into working for him, playing the To Be Lawful or Good card by reminding him that innocents will die if he didn't act.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Encouraged in "The Bardic Knock Spell" as a way to get past obstacles without resorting to violence or sneaking. Comes with a warning that the DM will probably only let you get away with it once.
- Berserk Button: Spoony attests that stealing from the party is so very much this that it can work as a railroading device.
- Beware the Nice Ones: "Vampire: Spoony's Jyhad". Victory for the Carthians, bitch.
- Big "OMG!": In Shadowrun: The Code, Spoony replicates his reaction to the Villain Protagonist Stupid Crooks deciding to Prove I Am Not Bluffing.
- Bleached Underpants: In "The Dirtiest Book in the Game" (discussing the Book of Erotic Fantasy), Spoony points out that while the list of adventure hooks all have something to do with sex, they're fairly mature and seriousnote and not at all explicitly pornographic, and thus could be easily be used in a "vanilla" campaign.
- Boring but Practical:
- In Age of Manure, Spoony warns against specializing in exotic weapons, it's better to go with swords, daggers, bows or similar "boring" weapons because DMs will use those as loot at the end of the dungeons.
- In "Don't Be That Guy" and other videos, he says it is the simplest thing in the world to carry a club, it's a big wooden stick, even a tree branch lying around can be a club. But you'd be amazed how often it comes in handy, especially if skeletons show up.
- Born Lucky:
- Vegan Steve. Out of a shuffled Deck of Many Things that has 11 good cards and 11 bad cards, he draws 11, and the first 10 are all good cards. Subverted with the 11th card.
- Spoony himself when playing his bard character Tandem the Spoony, as seen in "Tandem's Last Ride" and "The Greatest Swordsman in the World" (at the start of the ConBravo segment - or, for that matter, the ConBravo campaign itself). He consistently wins battles that on paper he would be expected to lose, just because his rolls are always so good and the enemy's are so bad.
Big Mike:note What is it with you and your fucking character?
- Spoony proves himself to be this again in Nightstake, when he rolls straight 10s on 6 10-sided dice to stake Invisible Jason's Assamite Ninja vampire with Celerity through the chest with a thrown sharpened police nightstick; the odds of this succeding being literally 1 in 1000000.
- Born Unlucky:
- The subject of the "Botchamania" video.
- Spoony's friend Crazy Mike, who failed to connect a to-hit roll in two months, and that's while Dual Wielding, which doubled his number of to-hit rolls.
- The Black Dragon Final Boss from ConBravo 2012 - D20 Live part 2. First he misses with his breath weapon, misses his bite, misses one claw attack, critically fails with the other claw and then collapses face first onto the ground, while the party kills by hacking away at its spinal cord.
Big Mike:note I am the unluckiest dragon in the world. I had cannons shot at me and now everyone's hitting my spine!
- Similarly, in the Live D20 Linkara botches almost every roll
- Bragging Rights Reward: The only conceivable reason Spoony can derive for a minotaur player disregarding the tenet of "Thou Shalt Not Fuck With the Lady of Pain."
- Break the Cutie: Vampire: Spoony's Jyhad really reads like this, both for his character and him as a player. He played a Carthian with poor combat but good utility skills so as to be a friendly, helpful character, in hopes of socializing more with the other LARPers. When his character is jumped and kidnapped, he's actually optimistic and excited about it, thinking this was a special adventure for the newbie, having previously been worried about being ignored as a side character. His hopes are then crushed as his character is tortured with a blow torch and made a slave of the much less friendly vampires that make up the bulk of the LARP, and he proceeds to bomb them all to hell in revenge. Spoony admits he reacted poorly to the railroading, though still considers them to have been out of line.
- Brick Joke: In the ConBravo - D20 game, Spoony's character makes sure to steal a bunch of glasses from his employer, crush it and put it in a bag, before his party goes on their mission. Later, when they encounters an ogre-like beast, Spoony's character shoves the team's tank out of the way to attack the monster, with the sack of crushed glass to the face.
- Bullying a Dragon/Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: In the ConBravo D023 game, the party eavesdrops on a massive, but wounded, black dragon. And as it begins to fly away.
Spoony: Excuse me... Seven hells you're one ugly lizard... Hey, yo, Puff! Why don't ya come down here and see what a real man's made of? If... you've got the guts.
- Essentially what the Minotaur player was trying in "Don't Fuck With The Lady of Pain".
- Spoony advises against players doing this to the DM. If the player pointedly tries to make the DM angry, or to derail the story, or plays in a way that they know annoys them, the DM will start to fight back, and they will win. By contrast, playing cleverly and intelligently but going along with the story and having fun will make the DM happy that their campaign is being enjoyed, and they will repay the kindness if the players need it by helping them out or sending good loot their way.
- But Thou Must/Stupidity Is the Only Option: Discussed in "Beware Women For They Come From Hell", when he says that even if a player knows that any food they're offered in the game is poisoned, getting on the boat will result in being attacked by aquatic monsters, and that the woman giving them the quest will turn out to be evil, they still have to go along with it because otherwise the adventure would end there.
Spoony: There's a point where you have to ask yourself, "do you want to play D&D or not?"
- Butt Monkey: Jinx the gnome druid in the Pathfinder campaign, as played by Pushing Up Roses, on account of the character having an intelligence score of 9.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Discussed in "Laundry Day at the Tower of High Sorcery", where graduates of the titular tower wear white, red or black robes to identify themselves as good, neutral or evil. Spoony brings up that unless you have mental instabilities or are already known as a bastard, he doesn't understand why someone would advertise themselves as evil and thinks it would be more pragmatic to try and play it cool to trick people easier. In this particular story, he doesn't see why even someone who was aware they were evil would wear black robes to advertise their alignment and intentions to others.
- Catch Phrase:
- When something bad happens; "You're fucked! You're just fucked!"
- When a player or DM makes poor gaming decisions; "By the way, if you're <that thing>, you're doing it wrong."
- The Cavalry Arrives Late: Tempus Thales. This turned out badly.
- Chunky Salsa Rule: He mentions this trope in the Thieves World video, when describing his thought process during the aftermath of the acid-in-the-face incident. The example he uses is that if your jugular vein is cut, it will most likely be fatal regardless of how many hit points you have or how much damage the cutting weapon normally does.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Gary, who knew the game's rules but never could show up on time for any number of reasons, including one occasion where he left the house, then realized he forgot to put on pants.
- Cold-Blooded Torture/Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: In "Shadowrun: The Code", one of the players takes a guard who lost his leg to another PC's Dragon's Breath rounds and punches him in the wound while demanding information. Needless to say, Spoony was horrified.
- Combat Pragmatist: "Circle Strafe" covers how various enemies, particularly dragons, would and possibly should use their natural advantages or intelligent tactics. Why let Conan whack you in the shins when you can circle overhead and blast the party with your breath weapon, particularly those pesky ranged combatants? Other thoughts include lizardmen attempting to sink a boat instead of board it, and hobgoblins (who are military-grade combatants) using such formations as a phalanx or a shield wall.
- Conscience Makes You Go Back: He expects this of players who are playing evil-aligned characters. Even if a character would normally run off and leave people for dead, Spoony wants them to have "that moment" when they have a moral epiphany, turn around and go help the party.
- Cool Versus Awesome: Discusses this as the big draw of the Cyberpunk spin-off Cthulhupunk. In the usual Cthulhu stories, weapons are of course useless against a Great Old One, but that's in the early 20th century, while Cyberpunk is in the 21st century. What happens when all the enhanced cybernetics, energy weaponry, genetics research, and other technological advances of the time are used by characters to battle a Great Old One? Only one way to find out, but whatever the outcome it's going to be badass.
- Corrupt the Cutie: Sir Stark, Spoony's paladin in "Die a Hero & Die Long Enough to See Yourself Become the Villain", suffered from this when Strahd gradually manipulated him through Batman Gambits and playing the To Be Lawful or Good card over and over, gradually turning Sir Stark into his equivalent of Darth Vader.
- Compelling Voice:
- The Caterpillar in "Tandem's Last Ride" was using this to secretly alter the party's alignment, though Tandem caught on and broke with Countersong.
- The Ventrue in "Nightstake" used his Presence and Awe abilities to this effect, salvaging a severe Masquerade-breaking fiasco by diverting the majority of investigating cops away from the scene.
- Conscience Makes You Go Back: While he doesn't expect his players to be all out noble, goodie two-shoes, when it comes down to it he expects his players to at least adhere to this.
- Martin/Brendan, the wizard of the Thieves' World campaign. Spoony describes him like Batman; he would prep massively devastating spells in advance, he knew how to disguise his nature (including wearing a shield that served as backstab protection), and he made devastating alchemical grenades for when he needed to act quickly.
- Especially during the big final battle, where he spent time going around the rooftops of the city, laying out the elements needed to cast powerful spells like Fireball, so that when the time all he had to do was trigger the spell, then Parkour'd to the next building and do it again.
- "Don't Be That Guy" evolves into Spoony advising players to be this. If you need to cause a panic to evacuate a building, have something that will create smoke or a bad smell, have utility spells like flying and walking on water, when fleeing from enemies or stopping charging enemies, bring caltrops or use a Grease spell to disrupt their movement. Bring sacks if there's something you might need to carry but it's too heavy or you don't want to touch it, and empty bottles to carry liquids. Bring multiple types of weapons in case you run into a monster that's resistant to one type, like the various types of undead. On the final note, Spoony reflects he's known players who carried with them a blunt weapon, a slashing weapon, a silver weapon for lycanthropes, a magic weapon (or spell to make a weapon magic), and a cold iron weapon for fey creatures.
- Spoony's "Jedi Hunter" character. Not only did he get pretty much every weapon he could effectively use against Jedi and Sith, including dual flamethrowers and an electrified net launcher, but he also installed remote controlled explosives in the corridors of his ship just in case he ever needed to "get rid of" Force-sensitive intruders.
- Crippling Overspecialization: a.k.a. "being that guy" as described in "Don't Be That Guy." Don't be the pyromaniac wizard loaded with fire spells who will thus be useless against fire monsters, don't be the fighter with the rapier who tries to kill zombies by stabbing them, etc.
- Also, in "The Problem With Superheroes":
"What will you
do this turn, Cyclops
(dry & detached) "I shoot it with my Eye Beams
- Spoony and Sage discuss this trope when talking about the double club, including that if you find a magic weapon, it's probably going to be a magic sword, a magic shortsword, magic bow, a magic longsword, occasionally a magic greatsword. But you'll never come across a magic double sword, a magic glaive, a magic poleaxe, or any of the exotic weapons, so don't expect to find one if you specialize in such weapons.
- This is partially why Spoony's "Jedi Hunter" was so effective - the party, and consequently their opponents, had pooled practically all their skill points into lightsaber combat and completely neglected stuff like precognitive sense and energy absorption that would hinder (if not completely negate) his Badass Normal tactics.
- Cycle of Revenge: In "Thieves' World", the party resort to what Spoony refers to as "The Chicago Way" - when Tempus Thales and the Stepsons start using brutal tactics to suppress rebellions in the cities, the party escalate to even more brutal tactics against the Stepsons.
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: In "Vampire - Spoony's Jihad", he explains this trope is why he dislikes the new Vampire setting — all the tribes are some measure of evil bastards who want to conquer the world, massacre the innocent, or both. Spoony is a believer in playing good guys in a game, and when there's no good guys to root for and everyone is evil, he finds it difficult to get invested.
- Deal with the Devil: Vam the Digger unintentionally did this after his leg was cut off, prompting to drink werewolf blood and sew his leg back on, hoping the regeneration would fix him. Thanks to Gameplay and Story Segregation and how the Dark Powers of Ravenloft would permit it because It Amused Me, it worked and he survived the battle, though eventually the werewolf blood took its toll and the party was forced to put him down.
- Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Attempted in "Thou Shalt Not Fuck With the Lady of Pain" where one player creates a character build with the specific intention of pulling thisnote , only to get Out-Gambitted by Spoony in a bit of quick-thinking as GM. Spoony even name drops Cthulhu when describing the Lady.
- Dirty Coward: Discussed, Spoony thinks this is the best type of villain to use if you want a recurring antagonist over a series of campaigns. If the villain actually tries to confront the party, the party will either refuse to back down and lose, or they'll get lucky and kill him before you want him to die. Making him a coward that flees from danger solves that problem, as long as you have a foolproof way for him to escape like a Teleport Ring or hidden passage.
- Disorganized Outline Speech: Frankly you're lucky if he stays even remotely on topic, besides jumping into background, setting mechanics, and other stories in the setting he can also jump into completely different topics with no connection at all; for instance the Dragonlance discussion started on AD&D's Ninja class. The most extreme is the set of The Trouble With Superheroes, If You Stat it They Will Kill It, Because He's There, and Hey Fatty, Let's Go To Mordor! which are all just one multi-hour ramble that got cut up for time. He starts off talking about superheroes, moves on to talking about Darth Vader and Cthulhu, and then ends on Lord of the Rings.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: As a corollary to the above, he describes The Lady of Pain as this, since under no circumstances should you fuck with her, and if you do she will either straight up kill you, "maze" you or generally fuck back.
- Double Weapon: The double club and other impractical weapons from the "Age of Manure" video. Spoony and Sage come up with a bunch more at the end of the video.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: "Tandem's Last Ride."
- Likewise, the Thieves' World players who earned their victory over Tempus Thales. Though in this case it was more "earn your Bittersweet Ending", as several members of the party died, and they had to abandon virtually anything resembling morality to achieve even a partial victory.
- Enemy Mine: The Shadowrunners of "The Squirt Gun Wars" become such a nuisance that the Mega Corps unionize to fight against them.
- Spoony also states that this is one of the few justifications of having a Token Evil Teammate, where said teammate is willing to cooperate with the group primarily out of hatred for the villain due to some personal slight of some sort.
- Escalating War:
- The "Squirt Gun Wars" ended up as this by way of Lensman Arms Race, going from mere squirt guns to sprinkler drones, aerosolized grenades, and water cannons.
- The Thieves' World campaign mutates into this after going Off the Rails, the heroes using every brutal trick in the book to fight back against Tempus' elite forces.
- Eureka Moment: During "Tandem's Last Ride", when he realizes Compelling Voice is at work and uses Countersong to drown it out and save everyone.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In "So You Want To Be Evil" he says this is the reason why he thinks the only way you could play an evil character in an RPG group is if the character was Lawful Evil, since while you're still evil you still have some lines that you won't cross.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Discussed in "Dungeon Mastering a Great Game". Spoony is a big fan of roleplaying and doesn't like when players address each other by their race or class, I.E. "Elf, go identify that magic item" and "Thief, go pick that lock". He discusses causes for it and how you can avoid it in your RPG session:
- Some players have difficulty getting into character, or they find roleplaying uncomfortable, or they haven't loosened up around a group of strangers yet.
- Players not taking an interest in other player's characters or, conversely, a player making a Flat Character not worth being interested in.
- He recommends giving your character a memorable name, while warning against using an overly-long and hard to remember name. Why remember a name loaded with syllables that takes eight seconds to say when you can point and say "Hey, Thief"? He notes that elves are a frequent offender here.
- He recommends giving your character an In-Game Nickname. It builds opportunities to build character and roleplay.
- He actually does it himself in "Shadowrun: The Code" when he tries to remember which player took a Dragon's Breath-loaded shotgun to a simple B&E job and ended up blowing off a security guard's leg and laughing about it. Spoony briefly chastises himself, then changes his mind and says that a Jerk Ass that big doesn't deserve to be recognized by name.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Dungeonland, a D&D module based on Alice in Wonderland, along with other modules penned by Gary Gygax. The GM for the game recounted in "Tandem's Last Ride" buffed up the enemies to provide a challenge for the higher-levelled player characters, but the Mad Hatter and March Hare were still fairly high-level in the original module.
- Evil Is Cool: Deconstructed in "So You Want To Be Evil"; when the big question of "why do you want to be evil" arises, the answer inevitably boils down to "I want to behave in a manner that would be disruptive to the party/campaign". Spoony explains that either you want to be a Stupid Evil Sociopathic Hero who does evil things because they can, or you'll play a relatively benign evil character like a Noble Demon in an Enemy Mine situation, but you'll become The Friend Nobody Likes that will always be suspected of betraying the party because of your alignment. Personal biases aside, this is a major reason he discourages playing with evil alignment.
- Eye Scream: In the campaign based on Thieves' World, the players enrage and humiliate Tempus Thales so much that he skull-fucks an NPC to death in retaliation. Even Spoony himself was horrified when he did this.
- Also, when he was at ConBravo, he threw crushed glass into the eyes of a giant opponent.
- Facial Horror: Tempus Thales in the Thieves' World campaign. Not only does he take acid to the face, but the goddess he serves revokes his regenerative powers until he redeems his utter humiliation, and because the PCs continually foil his plans to do so, she makes it worse!
- Fake Difficulty: In "Spoony Gets Mazed", Spoony plays an old electronic game in which the player must navigate a labyrinth to find treasure guarded by a dragon, then escape the maze with it. The problem is that both the walls and the dragon are invisible, and if the player accidentally moves into a wall, their turn ends. The dragon meanwhile will pursue them as long as they are on the board, its movement can only be guessed at since it's invisible, and if it finds you, it kills you and sends you back to the start point. The game gives you a token to keep track of it and it's movement is predictable, but you only find out where it is once it kills you the first time. Also, it can fly over the walls, while carrying the treasure your movement rate is decreased, and if it finds you when you're trying to escape, it deals a One-Hit KO, ending the game with no further chances.
- Failed a Spot Check:
- The reason the alarm was set off in Shadowrun: The Code was because the adept opening the exhibit, while he did notice and disable a trap before proceeding, assumed that was the only trap and didn't check for any other potential triggers.
- Specifically, the Adept disabled the pressure plate that the scroll he was supposed to steal stood on. What he didn't disable was the security alarm wired to the door to the exhibit the scrolls were stored inside.
- As stated in "If You Stat It, They Will Kill It", one problem some players have is that they will read the stats of the Cthulhu they wish to punch out, but fail to read what said opponent can do to them. He then recounted an early D&D story where the players were dedicated to defeating a fairly weak deity, the god of the Slaads; they were strong enough to take down the god itself, but they didn't realize that he was a Flunky Boss that could turn the tables by summoning a small army of Slaad allies.
- Failure Is the Only Option: In "Because He's There", Spoony emphasizes the futility of trying to kill Cthulhu. Even if you endure the inevitable sanity loss and survive Cthulhu's unavoidable mass feeding... he's just going to revive ten minutes later. Even nuking him won't do any good, since it just means he'd revive ten minutes later both angry and radioactive.
- Famed in Story: Spoony discusses this in "Where Have All the Lawful Goods Gone?" The whole video is essentially ways of reconstructing the Lawful Good Character Alignment, and all of the advantages it gets; that people will believe what you say, you get to earn fancy titles and names, and if you need something from a lord or city guard, you can just ask for it. Plus, a Lawful Good character tends to be The Hero in story.
- The Food Poisoning Incident/Tampering with Food and Drink: The Toilet Pizza fiasco.
- Foregone Conclusion: In "Hey Fatty! Let's Go To Mordor!", he talks about how this is a problem with setting a game in a setting based on a book or movie where everyone already knows the story and who will turn out to be a bad guy. He suggests several workarounds such as having the adventurers' story happen at the periphery of the 'main' one, or a sort of Alternate History setting where some characters are different and people who turn out to be heroes or villains in the original may not be in this one.
- For Science!: Presumably why Hinsty David created that darn Manure Golem.
- For the Evulz: How the Dark Powers of Ravenloft roll, as emphasized in "Die a Hero & Die Long Enough to See Yourself Become the Villain", permitting Gameplay and Story Segregation because It Amused Me.
- For Want of a Nail: The eponymous "Leaping Wizards" encounter was supposed to have the full party of 6 with a Wizard, three Magic Knight Game Breaker Clerics, a Fighter and a Thief, ambushed by three Level 1 Wizards armed with quarterstaves and with Magic Missile as their one spell. Spoony changed the spells because he knew the encounter was a joke, and the party laughed when he had the Wizards attack them. But by simply changing their spells to Sleep, Charm Person and Ray of Enfeeblement, and getting some lucky rolls, two-thirds of the party is put to sleep, one of the two left is Charmed to attack his ally (and subsequently knocked unconscious to stop him), and the last one loses enough Strength that he becomes encumbered and is unable to run as two of the Wizards surround him and start beating him over the head while the third attacks the sleeping party members and the Charmed party member is unconscious. End result, two of the sleeping party members end up dying.
- Fridge Logic/Fridge Brilliance: Discussed, Spoony brings these up and encourages players to think about the positive and negative consequences of doing so.
- As just one example from "Don't Be That Guy", if you're a pyromaniac who's carrying ten flasks of alchemist's fire, and you botch your throw and drop it at your feet, think what's going to happen to the other nine vials you're carrying, because if your DM is an asshole, he will make you roll to see if they explode in your face.
- In another video, he mentions that if the party is traveling near a body of water, do you really think the warrior in plate mail that gets pulled into the drink is going to be able to swim, or even stay afloat?note
- He also says that if the party catches a plot hole or a an inconsistency like this, just go with it and say "yes, that is strange, isn't it?" It will make them think there's a reason for that inconsistency, and even if there isn't and you've been caught, now that you know you can make up a reason to bring up later and tie it into the future of the adventure.
- "Circle Strafe" is an In-Universe rant on how monsters, particularly dragons, suffer Badass Decay because DMs do not have them fight the way they would want to fight. Why would a dragon ever land and let the Warrior with the two-handed BFS swing at him? It wouldn't; the dragon is going to fly around nuking them with its Breath Weapon and other spells, because these monkeys dared to challenge it and it is not interested in fighting fair.
- Comes up twice in rapid succession in the ConBravo vid. When Roo blasts the Final Boss (who has previously been shot up with cannons and powder rifles) with a fireball, someone in the audience brings up "is there gunpowder in the wounds?" After a mass Oh, Crap from everyone pondering this possibility, it's decided that while there probably is, it wouldn't do much than just sting and crackle since it probably mostly burned up in the initial battle that caused those wounds.
- Funny Background Event: Oreo occasionally pops up wanting attention from her master.
- Game Breaker: Repeatedly discussed.
- In "The Squirt Gun Wars", he discussed that the drug DMSO was one, as when mixed with other drugs and sprayed through a squirt gun, it caused those other drugs to instantly be absorbed through the skin, causing instant paralysis or death. The story then goes into how the titular Squirt Gun Wars began as Spoony, as the DM, fought back by trying to restrict their access to the drugs. When this failed he had the Megacorps unionize, arming their security forces with the same weapons. Then the two sides began coming up with increasingly creative and ridiculous ways to protect themselves from the enemy's squirt guns and finding ways to circumvent that same protection when the other side adopted it. Such methods included radio-controlled cars with water guns, sprinkler systems rigged to spray DMSO, grenades tied to balloons full of DMSO to aerosolize it, and at the point Spoony believes they realized how silly the game had become, an industrial-strength water cannon of DMSO.
- In "Leaping Wizards", he explains that Clerics are this. They can cast any spell that falls within their god's sphere of influence (working out to dozens of spells), they don't need material components to cast most spells, they have decent HP and are good fighters, can use any armor, and can heal. The specialty Clerics the party chose worshiped Selune, which meant they got bonuses to hit and damage while fighting under a full moon, and had the ability to summon a sword made of moonlight which itself has bonuses to hit and damage.
- In "The Jedi Hunter", where Spoony details how, upon entering a Star Wars game partway through with a part consisting of purely Jedi, he decided to make a non-Jedi character specifically designed to be able to go toe-to-toe with Sith Lords. As he recounts the story, it becomes very clear that the Jedi Hunter outclassed everyone purely through the fact that all of the characters were built for Lightsaber combat & nothing more, whilst the Jedi Hunter was given weapons that Lightsabers were useless against or capitalised on the lack of balance to the Force attributes. Spoony notes that it got to the point that the DM was specifically speccing the NPCs to counter the Jedi Hunter, i.e. he uses gas based weapons, so suddenly the Sith Lords were all wearing helmets or breather masks to render that tactic useless.
- In "Know Your Role", he explains that there is no reason to not play a Dexterous Heel character, because they make winning so simple. When a wrestler is covered, the covered player rolls against Will, Strength, and Endurance, to kick out, picking a different stat with each roll until they fail all three and thus lose the three count. However, when you cover someone, you can hook the leg for an automatic +1 to the count, and a Heel wrestler can make a Dexterity throw to cheat for an automatic +1 to the count. Thus, if you're a Dexterous Heel, you can hook the leg and then cheat, giving your opponent a single saving throw to kick out, and if they fail, you win. Further, there is little penalty to failing the roll to cheat, so there is little reason to not try it every single time you cover the opponent.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation:
- Spoony discusses this in the Thieves' World campaign, where, at the end, a group of level 7 characters manage to defeat Tempus Thales; he acknowledges that within the canon of the novels that would never happen, but the players spent (real-world) weeks planning and setting up the battle and exhibited amazing teamwork and foresight, so he felt that they had earned that victory and let them have it regardless of how it broke with the novels.
- In the same video, he brings up times when gameplay and story do not get along. As an example, say a level 20 fighter wakes up in bed with an assassin holding a knife to their throat. In game terms, the player doesn't care, that knife does 1d4 damage and their fighter has 300 hit points. In story terms, the assassin has a dagger to his throat and there is no way a knife to the throat is not going to be fatal.
- According to "Die a Hero & Die Long Enough to See Yourself Become the Villain", the Dark Powers of Ravenloft can allow on a For the Evulz It Amused Me basis. Case in point, Vam the Digger reattaching his severed leg by sewing his leg back on after drinking werewolf blood. Mechanically, that would be a bunch of nonsense, but being in Ravenloft (a world based on the tropes of gothic literature), it becomes much more plausible.
- Geeky Turn-On: In "Never Get on the Boat" he claims that the idea of a zombie Loch Ness Monster in one of the sourcebooks gives him 'a weird boner'.
- Genre Blindness: In the "Vampire: Spoony's Jyhad" video, the GM pretty much had it coming when he let Spoony's character make Bathroom Semtex after just permitting his character into being brainwashed into being evil.
- Get Out: Spoony's reaction to a player who wanted to make an Abberant Monster vampire who selectively fed on adolescent children undercover as a school counselor in Vampire: The Masquerade. That same player also happened to be the leader of the Villain Protagonists of Shadowrun: The Code, who attacked museum guards and blew up a city block because their faces were seen during a heist, in a setting where the characters could probably evade identification by changing their faces with plastic surgery.
- Godzilla Threshold: The Cyber Psycho Squad in Shadowrun: The Code, imported from Cyberpunk to deal a justified Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies to the hostage-massacring Villain Protagonist Stupid Criminals.
- Gone Horribly Right: In "Thou Shalt Not Fuck With the Lady of Pain," the minotaur player intentionally and successfully got mazed by the Lady of Pain... only to end up in A Fate Worse Than Death Ironic Hell.
- Graceful Loser: Invisible Jason could only applaud when he was hit by the eponymous "Nightstake" against astronomical odds.
- Guile Protagonists: The players of the Thieves' World campaign, playing so smart that they earned their victory in Spoony's eyes.
- Linkara definitely was thinking on his feet during the ConBravo game — when they find their employer's daughter flirting with a suspect in the main quest, he convinces the guy they want to reward him for helping to find her, convincing him to come back to the employer's house with them. At the house, after the guy is knocked unconscious when interrogations go poorly, and the employer is furious they had done the same to his daughter, Linkara quickly corrects him by explaining it was the suspect who did that, they saved her from him. Also, he was the only player wary about the drinks the party was offered, though it didn't stop him from being drugged.
- Hand Wave: In "Vegan Steve & The Djinni of Jengai Fomogo", Spoony intended the party to use the Djinni's wish to remove a curse that had been placed on them, only for Steve to throw it all Off the Rails by shouting "I wish for a Deck of Many Things!" After Steve was effectively killed and the party found his body, Spoony declared that the Fates card Steve drewnote gave him a potion that would cure the curse, despite the fact that he had already used the Fates card to get away from the now-murderous party.
- He-Man Woman Hater: Discussed in "Beware Women, For They Come From Hell", where Spoony gives it as one suggested explanation for why game masters tend to make every female NPC who appears in a campaign turn out to be evil.
- Hoist By Their Own Petards: The players of "The Squirt Gun Wars" got a taste of their own medicine when the Mega Corps unionized against them, using their own DMSO-spewing squirt guns... and hazmat suits.
- Humiliation Conga:
- Tempus Thales. His Facial Horror at the hands of the party's hands eventually goes into Sanity Slippage territory thanks to being a Wound That Will Not Heal, his healing powers revoked by his master until avenging this humiliation. Even declaring martial law with the backing of super-elite soldiers fails to get the job done. While he kills two of them in the final battle (but not the one responsible for the Facial Horror), he is paralyzed by his sister and obliterated by the others. Lastly, by the time he'd revive from such annihilation, they'd be long dead and unable to suffer his revenge.
- The Black Dragon in ConBravo D20, also a Trauma Conga Line. First he gets shot up by cannons, upon his return he misses with his breath weapon (narrowly averting a botch), he gets zapped in the wings with two Lightning Bolt spells and is sent crashing to the ground, he tries two claw attacks but forgets to put the first one back down, resulting in him faceplanting and losing his armor class, he gets stabbed in the spine with a sword, takes an arrow shot to the same location, and finally dies when the sword still stuck in his spine is struck by lightning.
- Along with (Physical) Trauma Conga Line, "Botchamania". When a player fails to land his athletics check to leap safely onto a moving train from a helicopter, he botches the roll and thus the landing. Spoony lets him roll to see if he catches himself three times, and he fails each time, traumatizing and breaking his arm before he finally tumbles off the train and barely survives in critical condition. Unable to continue without him since no one else had his level of skill, they retrieved him and tried to heal him, only to botch twice, breaking his neck the first time and killing him the second time. After their attempt to defibrillate him botches, the faceman is forced to try the leap, botches every roll, and the mission is over because two party members are dead and no one else has the skills needed to complete the mission.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The Rankan prince from the Thieves' World campaign. He's technically Tempus Thales' superior, but Tempus is a Dragon-in-Chief who cannot be restrained even if the the prince disproves, like the Eye Scream incident. He doesn't end up doing anything direct to antagonize the party and is ultimately relegated to a bargaining chip during the final battle.
- Inherently Funny Words: The names of the people involved in the Manure Golem backstory in "Age of Manure", Hinsty David and Mr. Mockingham, according to Spoony.
- In Name Only: From "Spoony Gets Mazed", an electronic Dungeons and Dragons game. There's no roleplaying, there's no monsters or character classes, the players are expected to compete rather than cooperate to win, and there's no dice rolling of any kind. Spoony notes that it's only a Dungeons and Dragons game in the strictest sense of the word, in that it features a dragon in a dungeon.
- Ironic Hell: See Do Not Taunt Cthulhu and the guy's punishment for attempting to scam the Lady of Pain.
- Jackass Genie: In "Thou Shalt Not Fuck With the Lady of Pain", Spoony admits to being hardwired this way whenever players piss him off, deliberately construing the wish into something negative.
- Jack of All Stats / Master of None: Spoony describes his character, Tandem the Spoony as this; he liked the notion of Bards being competent at a wide variety of things without being great at anything. He notes that created problems when he was the strongest magician in the party at Dungeonland.
That's a problem. When the bard is the reigning authority on all things arcane, and that bard is Tandem the Spoony... that's a bad thing
- Jerkass: While the entire party described in "Shadowrun: The Code" qualifies, special mention has to go to one player in particular who seemed to go out of his way to be as arbitrarily violent as possible. When the group was making their escape, this player was the one to murder every last hostage in cold blood because "They've seen our faces". During a later Vampire: The Masquerade campaign, the same player created an Abberant Monsternote character who fed on children while working for a Big Brothers/Big Sisters-type outreach program. At that point Spoony just told the guy to Get Out because it was obvious he just wanted to Troll the campaign, but when he insisted that he seriously wanted to play that character, Spoony responded "Then you're even more messed up and I really want you to get the fuck outta here!"
- Spoony thinks that the Crane player from his Legend of the Five Rings game was this, and he has a pretty good argument. He challenged Spoony's character to a duel to the death over taking tea without refusing it three times first and having a katananote . The fact that when Spoony was quickly killed the player gleefully continued into No Kill Like Overkill territory doesn't help. The worst part was that Noah was asked to play by the group. And no one said anything while this was going down. This might ascend the other players as well. The prompt Rage Quit was well deserved.
- Interestingly, most L5R players would point out most Cranes aren't duelists. They're courtiers, which makes the whole thing look even more like they were deliberately griefing Spoony or were just as clueless on setting details as he was.
- Jerkass With A Heart Of Gold: In "So You Want To Be Evil", Spoony presents this as his preferred alternative to Villain Protagonists. You don't have to be a goody-goody by any stretch of the imagination, but when the chips are down, you might walk, but in the end, you go "...goddammit!" and help out your friends despite your misgivings.
- Jobber: "Ring Crew Guy" from Know Your Role Part 1, whom Spoony made with the explicit condition that he would never win a match. (Despite this, he still ends up as Tag Team Champion.)
- Killer Game Master: Spoony laments that most of his sessions end with his players dying gruesomely. This is chalked up more to bad luck than evil intent, though Spoony has admitted that he's a "harsh" DM generally. However, this is due to him wanting the players to overcome a genuine challenge so they feel a sense of accomplishment for it. A few stories tell of Spoony bending the rules a bit to help out the party if they get incredibly unlucky and the campaign would otherwise derail ("Botchmania", "Vegan Steve & The Djinni of Jengai Fomogo"), because he wants them to win; he's just not going to make it easy.
- One thing he will not abide is players riffing on the campaign, whether he designed it himself or not. Nice knowing you, dicksmacks.
- In the "Leaping Wizards" video, he says that insultingly-easy encounters, such as fighting three first-level wizards with magic missile as their only spell, are just unfulfilling to the players. This leads to him modifying the above encounter by varying the wizards' spells, which ends up killing a couple of the player characters and led to Spoony getting kicked out of the RPGA.
- A genuine Killer DM, one Gary Gygax, designed Dungeonland, which is the focus of "Tandem's Last Ride".
- And Spoony's appropriately-named acquaintance Gary (the "I forgot my pants" guy) was also one, with anyone who played in his campaign becoming resigned to rolling up a new character at least once per session.
- One party that did note survive Spoony's campaign only did so by becoming a pack of sadistic, kill-crazy savages, even by Thieves' World standards.
- In Never Get On The Boat, Spoony claims all DMs turn into this if the players ever get anywhere near a body of water that gives them the opportunity to use all the "interesting" deadly aquatic monsters and races from the sourcebook they never usually get to use.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Vegan Steve ends up dying by pulling the Void card from the Deck of Many Things, an item he obtained by completely screwing the party over. Note that he drew it as his last card out of 11, after his first ten cards were beneficial, and the tenth card allowed him to escape his furious teammembers. It couldn't be more laser-guided than that.
- Lawful Anal: Discussed in "Where Have All the Lawful Goods Gone?" saying that everyone assumes this is how all Lawful Good characters are supposed to be played. Spoony says that it's entirely possible to play a Paragon-type character when being Lawful Good, so long as you don't "stab women in the face."
- Leave No Witnesses: The players of Shadowrun: The Code turned into Villain Protagonists by executing everyone inside the museum, purely on account that they had seen their faces. It would have been so much easier to wear masks.
- Lensman Arms Race: "The Squirt Gun Wars", where the introduction of DMSO (which allows any drug to be instantly absorbed through the skin) in Shadowrun leads to the introduction of lethal DMSO drug cocktails and an arms race of super soakers, hi-tech water balloons, sprinkler systems, and fire hoses.
- Something similar (though at a smaller scale) happened in the story of "The Jedi Hunter" when, after getting destroyed by Spoony's Badass Normal character, the sith encountered by the party from then on began to adopt the same antipersonnel tactics and countermeasures that he used.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Discussed. Spoony says that in older editions of D&D, when the Wizard got one spell at first level and only 1D4 hit points, they suffered through it because they knew their patience and hard work would be worth it when the day came that they could start throwing fireballs and calling down ice storms.
- Lord British Postulate: Discussed several times, Spoony says this trope is the reason he's happy when RPGs don't stat the Physical God-type enemies that the party should not be able to kill, because if such an entity appears in the campaign and their strength is quantified, the party will inevitably try to kill them just to see if they can.
- He appreciates that in the D20 Cthulhu, they make Cthulhu overpowered with unavoidable attacks, massive HP regeneration, and several abilities that allow him to deal a One-Hit KO to players with no saves, not to mention that if he is killed he regenerates in 10 minutes at full strength. But if you put him in the game the party will still try to take him no matter how suicidal it is.
- When he put a cameo of Darth Vader into a Star Wars campaign just to add flavor, it quickly derailed as the party turned back to try and take out Vader, getting themselves killed for it because Spoony was not about to let them do it and they kept ignoring his obvious hints that he had escaped and they were wasting time.
- Again in "Do Not Taunt the Lady of Pain" when a player tries to beat even this statless character by finding a way to overcome her ability to put you in mazes. Spoony specifically compares it to Captain Kirk and the Kobayashi Maru.
- The Magnificent: In "Dungeon Mastering A Great Game", Spoony talks about how this trope can help make characters memorable and flesh them out, especially if the cognomen in question is particularly distinctive, using Game of Thrones as an example.
- This is where his own alias comes from—his character "Tandem the Spoony" was so named because he wanted a cognomen that was a real adjective, but an incredibly obscure one.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!":
- Million-to-One Chance: In "Nightstake", Spoony explains that, in Vampire: The Masquerade, staking a vampire in the heart while in combat is extremely difficult to pull off. He further explains that throwing a stake into a vampire's heart from afar while in combat is nigh impossible, especially when that vampire is essentially a ninja with superior dodging abilities. And yet Spoony's character manages to do just that through sheer luck, without any fudging of the rules whatsoever.
- Mood Whiplash: Immediately after describing the Eye Scream event from the Thieves' World campaign, he whistles to his dog.
- Mundane Utility: At the end of "The Dirtiest Book in the Game", Spoony mentions an AD&D campaign where he created a Level 1 spell that permanently enhanced womens' breasts, and had his Mage character make a living as a traveling plastic surgeon (as such); after the DM thought about it for a while, he responded "You are gonna be so rich..."
- Never Live It Down: The "Leaping Wizards" incident got him known around his community as the Leaping Wizards guy for a while.
- Never Split the Party: Discussed in the video of the same name, in which he advises following this trope. Rather than specifically landing on the logistical problems of running a game with a split-up party, Spoony instead focuses on the fact that splitting up the party is downright dangerous, for a multitude of reasons. He further notes that players often end up splitting the party anyway, even if they've seen plenty Horror Films and should therefore know better.
- In specific, he briefly discusses the Dethklok campaign and the early incident where RolloT and LordKatnote fell into a teleport trap...and none of the other players followed, which got their characters killed off by an encounter that was intended for all six party members.
- Non-Action Guy: Linkara's archer/thief in the D20 Live game was an odd variation- his skills were heavily maxed, which not only made him a great lock-picker, but also meant he had great aim and always hit, but managed to botch all his damage roles and do only tiny amounts of damage with each shot
- Not Completely Useless: "Countersong" is a bardic ability that allows the bard to mute over auditory magic. It is virtually never used and often forgotten about, since such attacks are extremely rare, but it saved Tandem's party from a Compelling Voice.
- Nothing Is Scarier: In "Beware Women, For They Come From Hell" he discusses how to induce Paranoia Fuel in players by using phrases like "You don't...see any traps" and "How are you opening this door?" when it turns out there really are no traps and nothing scary behind the door. But there might be next time! Additionally, have a farmer with a broken-down wagon, or a housewife who invites them to dinner, and have nothing happen; maybe the farmer really just broke his wagon, and the housewife is just friendly. He specifically says the DM can have fun with the players in the second example by telling them "her cooking tastes really funny", and they'll assume it's poison, but maybe she's just a lousy cook or used a spoiled egg. Once you start doing these things to them regularly, they will become paranoid and start seeing danger in everything.
There's a bomb under the table, and tension is when it doesn't go off.
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Noah spends a good 15 seconds in "The Importance of Wearing Pants" reassuring us that he's not making up the story about the player who somehow left the house without his pants.
- Not Using the Z Word: In "Cthulhupunk" he discusses the fact that players can take even very powerful enemies like Lovecraftian Eldritch Abominations for granted if they're used to them and know they'll be in the game. Instead he suggests not telling the players this, make them think they're playing a normal cyberpunk (or other) game and then throw them in without warning, and never name the beings, just give accurate descriptions of them—which is far more horrifying because of the fear of the unknown factor.
- Amusingly, one commenter said he does the same thing in games he DMs with Pokémon and successfully makes them sound like fearsome enemies.
- One of the interesting side effects of this is how the players interpret the descriptions without proper names. What would come across as a terrifying eldritch horror in one setting might be construed as "yet another corporate project gone awry" in a cyberpunk setting, although the oh Jesus what the hell is THAT factor is still in play.
- Obviously Evil: His point about the black robed magic users in "Laundry Day in the Tower of High Sorcery." If robes are specifically deigned white, red, and black for good, neutral, and evil respectively, who in their right mind would wear black robes? Nobody is going to trust you about anything, including your fellow black robes, and if your alignment doesn't intimidate people into following your will, odds are they'll turn against you.
- Off the Rails:
- In "Vegan Steve & the Djinni of Jengai Fomogo".
- Spoony himself does it in "Vampire: Spoony's Jyhad". In a Vampire: The Requiem LARP, Spoony's character is railroaded and brainwashed by the other players. His in-character response? Making a bathtub full of Semtex and blowing up the Prince and every other vampire in a one-block radius.
- Pretty much all of the Thieves' World campaign. Spoony's original plan was for the PCs to slowly work their way into Tempus Thales' "favor" and assist him in overthrowing the city. After a textbook example of why not to interrupt the DM (see Wham Line), the campaign turns into horrifically Escalating War of atrocities between Thales and the party.
- At ConBravo, Big Mike's original plan was to have the party, upon seeing that the Big Bad was a Colossal Black Dragon, to go get an army of reinforcements. Instead, Spoony throws some insults at him and the Party ends up killing the Dragon without getting hit, much to Mike's surprise.
- The game at ConBravo was technically off the rails from the very beginning, when the players flat-out refused to follow the Lawful Neutral alignments Big Mike gave them.
- In Shadowrun: The Code, what was to be a simple burglary rapidly escalated into a hostage standoff wherein all hostages were murdered, the doors were rigged were explosives, and the Villain Protagonists fleeing into the sewers and a Godzilla Threshold Karmic Death Rock Falls Everyone Dies. Why? "They saw our faces."
- One-Hit Kill: Manure golems in "The Age of Manure" could instantly turn you to poop.
- One Steve Limit: Averted in the "Vegan Steve" video, where he plays with three different Mikes, and has to give them nicknames to differentiate between them ("Crazy Mike", "Big Mike" and "Store Mike")
- Played for laughs in the Thieves World story, where he mentions Matthew the thief, then suddenly gets frustrated at slipping and using the player's real name again, only to correct himself when he realizes Matthew is the fake name for the thief player; it was another player who had the real name Matthew.
- Overprotective Dad: Zeus literally throws Tandem the Spoony off Mount Olympus for macking on his daughter.
- Paranoia Fuel: He talks about how DMs can induce this in their characters in a number of ways:
- In "Dungeon Mastering a Great Game", react to players pointing out by continuity errors by enigmatically smiling and saying "Yes, that is odd, isn't it?", making them think there must be some dark secret behind the whole thing;
- If a thief searches for traps and doesn't find any, never say "There aren't any traps." Say "You don't detect any traps." Because even if there aren't traps, they don't know that, and phrasing it this way allows the potential for there to still be some.
- In "Swimming in Diarrhea is Bad", infecting players with diseases after they go to disease-prone areas like sewers unless they take the proper precautions.
- In "Beware Women, For They Come From Hell", he says that one of the best ways to inspire paranoia in a party is to call attention to seemingly innocuous details, and yet have nothing happen, at least right away. One of the examples he gives is asking specifics for mundane actions; e.g. "How do you open the door?"
- He advises players to be afraid of bodies of water because the reason they're in the adventure is so the DM can break out the aquatic monsters, and they will not waste the chance.
"You see a lake, run fucking screaming from it, 'cause I don't know what the fuck is in there but it's badass, and there's gonna be a lot of them."
- "Cthulhupunk" presents the option of Not Using the Z Word and simply describing what the subject looks like, causing the player to interpret the description however they wish.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Matthew from Thieves' World, who's "not that kind of thief."
- Playing Against Type: He advises players to do this; don't always be the wizard that looks, dresses, and acts like Gandalf, don't be the elf with a bow and/or two swords, etc. It makes play much more interesting and varied when players play classes in different ways and makes their characters more memorable. As an example, he recounts he once played an orc thief, and when another player laughed at the idea of an orc being a thief, Spoony responded by (in-character) clonking him on the head and robbing him while he was unconscious. Yeah, he might be a thief, but that doesn't mean he has to be stealthy and sneaky, thieves can also be petty thugs and muggers.
- Power Creep, Power Seep: Discussed in "The Trouble With Superheroes." Spoony notes that by their very nature, superheroes are not balanced, which creates problems when players want to play as their favorite heroes in tabletop and their power levels are all over the place. He further notes that, not only are individual powers difficult to balance against each other, but balancing goes out the window when a player has to roll to see how many powers they get, and if you roll low well too bad, your hero is gonna suck. Spoony specifically recounts a character he played that had two minor powers, water-breathing and some sort of super-sense (he believes it was hearing). He called him "The Poolboy," because yay, he can breathe underwater and he has really good hearing. Isn't he badass?
- The Power of Rock: In "Tandem's Last Ride", Tandem The Spoony sings an Iron Maiden song to break the Compelling Voice effect of the Caterpillar.
Countersong! Fucking Countersong!!
- Prove I Am Not Bluffing: The leader of the Stupid Crooks in Shadowrun: The Code, after being called out on their "bluff" about executing prisoners and hurling them out the door, proceeds to do so. Twice in a row. Cue Big "OMG!" and the Godzilla Threshold being reached.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Spoony will periodically describe someone or something in a game as "BAD. ASS!" Lampshaded in Nightstake when he refers to the Gangrel Justicar of Phoenix as "BAD space ASS, capital letters."
- Quirky Bard: Tandem The Spoony, one of Spoony's most notable player characters and the one that he took his online alias from. It should be noted that, in "Tandem's Last Ride", Spoony admits to naming Tandem after Edward from Final Fantasy IV.
- Railroading: When Spoony played a Vampire: The Requiem LARP, the GM forced his character to get kidnapped and brainwashed by the other players. This did not end well; see Off the Rails above.
- In the ConBravo D20 campaign, the groups employer's daughter slips the players drugged wine. Linkara only pretends to drink but the GM has his character be knocked out by the fumes of the wine anyway. As Linkara pointed out, a tranquiliser that powerful should have killed the other players rather than knock them out.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Spoony gives one of these to the GM of a Vampire: The Requiem LARP in "Vampire: Spoony's Jyhad".
- The Red Baron: Discussed — Spoony likes characters who have a title or some sort of nickname, even if it's one they hate, because it provides backstory and character depth, and makes them more memorable. As an example he points to A Song of Ice and Fire where most important characters have such things; the Kingslayer, the Imp, Lord Snow, the Spider, etc.
- Refuge in Audacity: Recommends doing this occasionally in "The Bardic Knock Spell", named for how Spoony once, in order to get into a guarded building, just knocked on the door and whacked the guy who opened it. Spoony goes on to recommend this trope to other players — knock on the doors of dungeons and see if people answer and if you can Bluff them to just open the door, and walk into guarded areas and Bluff your way past the guards, because neither the GM nor the in-universe characters will expect you to be so audacious ("an enemy wouldn't knock"), but if you're good at Bluff, it'll work. However, he also warns that this is a pretty cheap tactic and should only be done now and then, if you do it all the time the DM will begin to get upset and turn it back on you, as well he should.
- Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Can talk himself into invoking this at times, when he initially hates something but then brings up reasons to like them.
- In "Dem Bones", he dislikes electronic dice since of course you don't actually roll them and it takes several seconds for them to spit out a result. He says he would never let players use these dice, but after a moment notes if he was playing Shadowrun and a player wanted to use electronic dice when they enter the matrix, he might let them for the Rule of Cool.
- In "Know Your Role", he says while flipping through an old-school tabletop RPG guide for a WWF game, he expected to hate it at a glance. Once he began reading the book though he began appreciating the originality and effort put into it, such as mechanics to keep track of a wrestler's reputation in the crowd and how it affects their performance, and how a manager could influence a match. He decided that while he would never play it, it is a pretty cool system as far as approximating a wrestling match in tabletop goes.
- Riding into the Sunset: Referred to Tandem's last adventure as this.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
- Rock Falls Everyone Dies: The conclusion to Shadowrun: The Code because the game had gone too far Off the Rails by that point. Spoony asserted that the DM sometimes must assert authority and reign the players in, if just to remind them who runs the game.
- Running Gag:
- "...I'm not that kind of thief!"
- An unintentional one is Spoony trying to protect the identity of the people he's talking about by giving them aliases, only to forget to use them halfway through the story and only realise he's done it until after he's used their real names several times. For whatever reason, he didn't fix this in post by bleeping out the real names.
- "I'm glad you asked that!" in "The Jedi Hunter".
- He takes every opportunity to reference the "What's a paladin?" from Ultima IX that he ranted about in his review of the game.
- The 2012 ConBravo session gave us Spoony's "I've got this", "Birdman" Dodd conking people on the head and stuffing their bodies into a burlap sack, and Roo's pyromania.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Done unintentionally with the "Leaping Wizards" incident, which got Spoony booted from the RPGA for not adhering to their hand-holding methods, which he strongly disagrees with.
- Secret Test of Character: Spoony finds that RPGs are like this, at least in the sense that "You learn a lot about people." In particular, how their thought processes work when caught in certain circumstances, especially how low they'll stoop and how quickly they'll do it. He says that Vampire: The Masquerade is particularly effective in this regard.
- Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Invoked in "The Jedi Hunter" when he points out that his Badass Normal anti-Jedi tactics were clever and original at the time, but since that time lots of other people have come up with the same ideas and they're now commonplace in Star Wars canon.
- Self-Parody: The April Fools Day episode, "Gary Gygax Interview". Title has nothing to do with the content, his atrocious memory combines an earlier episode (the Dungeonland one, which he realized after posting he got most of the details wrong) with Army of Darkness, stops halfway through for a pointless digression into another system, his ego is so out of control that he stops to say how he's the smartest gamer ever a few times, and he gives his dog specific instructions to be as disruptive as possible.
- Serious Business: "Dem Bones" is an hour-long video concerning types of dice players use, Spoony understandably noting various types of dice he hates due to being oddly shaped, difficult to read or otherwise unfair or obstructive to gameplay. More humorous is a few minutes he spends on how players roll their dice, calling out players who roll particular ways as pussies and encouraging them to roll with some enthusiasm and emotion. A follow-up video talks about dice cups and dice towers and his declaration that if you know a roleplayer, they make great gifts, and they will be the envy of their friends for at least a night when they bring them to their game.
- Shoot the Mage First: Spoony repeatedly discusses this trope since Wizards are the primary area-of-effect elemental damage dealers. Competent opponents know they are the biggest source of pain and should be dealt with first. He further advises players who are Wizards to not dress like the stereotypical Wizard to disguise their identity and avoid being singled out.
- An unintentional one; while talking about fellow players Crazy Mike and Vegan Steve, he momentarily muddles their names into "Crazy Steve", Linkara's nickname for the In Name Only All-Star version of Batman.
- Another unintentional one when talking about making players paranoid by pointing out seemingly harmless things; one example he gives is one of the party looking over the side of their boat and noticing there's a lot of fish.
- In "Because He's There", he mentions how a group might let Cthulhu be summoned and the celestial alignment happening (though that could just be orbital wobble).
- He references "Bees. My God." in "Cthulhupunk".
- In "Childe Spoony to the Dark Tower Came", "What's a Pegasus used for... why, you play children's card games with it".
- Shown Their Work: Spoony ends up being extremely impressed with the WWF Basic Adventure Game due to this - the game is chock-full of little details that show it wasn't just a cash-in book
- Special Guest: Bennett The Sage made a guest appearance in "Age of Manure" to talk about some of his own roleplaying stories.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Oreo's frequent appearances in the videos, which often involve staring into the camera.
- Square Race, Round Class: Spoony recounts in one vid that he played a half-orc thief. When another player in-character laughed at the idea and asked how someone as big and burly as a half-orc could steal anything, Spoony responds by clonking him over the head and robbing him while he's out cold. Thieves don't always need to be cat burglars, sometimes they can be petty thugs, and half-orcs are pretty good at being that.
- Squee: Invoked in "Counter Monkey Punk":
"When I read the words 'Cyberpunk 2077', I squeed. Nothing makes me squee!"
- Squick: In-universe in "The Age of Manure". Spoony and Bennett are pretty disgusted at how much depth and story was put into establishing dogs who have magic poop that can be used to create golems that turn anything they touch into poop, and apparently they became an epidemic that made news around the world when they ran out of control.
- Stupid Crooks: In Shadowrun: The Code, the players make some major errors early on (such as not doing recon before their break-in, not double-checking for alarms during it, with the Hacker even needing Spoony's advice to figure out where to go next), which led to things rapidly escalating. At least they did it at night.
- Super Drowning Skills: "Never Get On the Boat" is part cautionary tale of reasons to avoid aquatic travel, part tips on how to survive in those circumstances, especially if you're likely to get pulled under.
- Take That: "Circle Strafe" is a giant middle finger aimed at dragons fighting stupidly, doing things like landing on the ground and directly engaging the six guys with giant buster swords rather than staying at a distance and hammering them with breath weapons and spells. He specifically calls out "Skyrim not only for doing this, but for de-mystifying dragon battles, which he feels should be dramatic, epic, and Final Boss-tier fights every time.
- During his review of D&D 5th Edition, Spoony spends a few minutes insulting the way later editions try to avert Final Death, complete with a mocking, sniveling voice directed at the players who can't handle the idea of their character even coming close to dying.
- Taking You with Me: The end result of the Vampire: The Requiem LARP. If Spoony couldn't play his character the way he wanted, then no one would. Of course the GM just threw him out and ignored everything he did (which Spoony knew he would do), but it's the principle.
- Theme Tune: The into of his more recent videos is accompanied by the final verse of Van Canto's cover of Blind Guardian's The Bard's Song (In The Forest):
In my thoughts and in my dreams They're always in my mind These songs of Hobbits, Dwarves, and Men And Elves Come close your eyes You can see them, too
- Token Evil Teammate: Advocated against in "So You Want To Be Evil" since aside from players thinking Evil Is Cool, there is no in-character reason for a heroic party to trust an evil character, especially if there happens to be a Paladin or Cleric in the party.
- Too Dumb to Live: The party in Shadowrun: The Code. They break into a museum to steal an artifact without having bothered to get a layout of entrances or exits, or the security system beforehand, and use the museum provided tourist map as if it were going to have secret entrances or exits listed, and when local security sees them, rather than simply smashing the case the artifact was in, and making a run for it, immediately start shooting, turning it into a hideously botched hostage situation when the cops arrive, and when they think they have a break, start executing everyone there, on the basis that "they've seen our faces." What makes it even worse is that this was apparently the plan from the beginning, since they didn't even bother to wear masks. All of this leads to Spoony having the cops call in the Cyber Psycho Squad, which leads to most of the party dying.
- Too Many Halves: Inverted with Crazy Mike, who is described in "The Jedi Hunter" as being "Half-Keanu, half... half... Just a half-Keanu. He was Point-Five Break."
- A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: As the Thieves' World campaign shows, never interrupt the DM! Lampshaded by the video's original title (visible in its URL), "Poor Impulse Control".
- Unfortunate Names: Hinsty David and his friend, Mr. Mockingham.
- Villain Protagonist: The player characters of Shadowrun: The Code far exceeded Sociopathic Hero in their actions to be anything but. In "So You Want To Play a Villain", he advises strongly against this.
- Villainous Breakdown: In ConBravo, the DM, Big Mike, starts to lose it as the players beat the dragon. He was initially surprised and cocky when Spoony challenged the Dragon, before being irked that he was missing, before flipping out when he botched the roll, then staring in disbelief as the players hacked away. When Roo landed the final brawl, all Big Mike had to say was "FUCK!".
- The Virus: In "Age of Manure", Spoony and Bennett edited the manure golems to be this, as the original's One-Hit Kill only turned people to regular manure.
- We Have Become Complacent: The elysium in "Vampire: Spoony's Jyhad" considered itself so secure that the guards didn't even search for weapons. Big mistake...
- Wham Line:
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Discussed Trope in "The Trouble With Superheroes", when some of the superpowers you can get are really lame. He recalls a hero he played called "The Poolboy", who had the ability to breathe underwater and may have had a super-sense like hearing. That was it.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: An issue that can cause massive debates amongst players is "The Prisoners Dilemma", in which the players encounter (for example) surrendering Orcs and pregnant Orc women while dealing with an Orc encampment and are forced to decide whether to take them prisoner or to simply kill them. Spoony suggests that, for the sake of keeping the group together, the DM should probably avoid putting the players in this situation.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Spoony as DM recounts reacting like this whenever the player characters do something horrendous during the campaign, such as the later half of the Thieves World campaign where they became almost as vicious as Tempus Thales (who Spoony mentions is essentially the servant of the God of Rape) or in Shadowrun: The Code when one player began executing their security guard and janitor hostages because they'd "seen our faces" during what Spoony points out was essentially just a breaking and entering job.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer: This trope is the titular issue he discusses in "The Trouble With Superheroes"; when a character only has one or two superpowers, the player playing as them becomes severely limited in their combat options and it gets boring. He specifically calls out Cyclops here, noting that Cyclops' only power is his Eye Beam, and if he can't use that for whatever reason, he's gonna be sitting the fight out.
- Wound That Will Not Heal: In the Thieves' World campaign, Tempus Thales would normally shrug off and regenerate the Facial Horror he received at the hands of the players, but because his patron goddess considers this lucky shot by a nobody a humiliating insult, she revokes his regenerative capabilities until he gets revenge. Cue Roaring Rampage.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: In the "Beware Women for They Come From Hell'' video he suggests having a female NPC hook up with a PC with no ulterior motive just to screw with Genre Savvy players.
- Zeerust: Discussed in "Counter Monkey Punk", when he compares what Cyberpunk 2020 foresaw for 2020 with the reality of 2012. Some predictions are surprisingly accurate, like the size and price of digital cameras, but others suffer heavily from Technology Marches On.