The Ranger: Indeed, it's the famous Dungeon of Naheulbeuk.
The Dwarf: It doesn't look that great.
The Ranger: Don't go by the look; nobody ever came back out of it.
The Dwarf: Really?
The Ranger: Well, as a matter of fact, nobody ever entered it.
Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk ("The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk") is a French audio series which started in 2001, available for free on the Internet, as well as various materials related to its universe. It was created by John Lang, under the nickname of Pen of Chaos (shortened to POC).
An Affectionate Parody of tabletop RPGs, it tells the "amazing" story of a group of stereotypical roleplaying characters, who are trying to storm the aforementioned dungeon in the search of a magic artifact. It turns out, however, that they're all less than competent. And that they hate each other. A lot.
The series' notoriety has grown in French-speaking countries over the years, and gave birth to a wide internet community. Over time, it evolved into a franchise now spanning several media:
- Two seasons for a total of 30 episodes had been produced.
- The third, fourth, fifth and sixth seasons took the form of novels:
- Season 3: La Couette de l'oubli ("The Quilt of Oblivion")
- Season 4: L'Orbe de Xaraz ("The Orb of Xaraz")
- Season 5: Le Conseil de Suak ("The Council of Suak")
- Season 6: Chaos sous la Montagne ("Chaos under the Mountain")
- In June 2013, the first two seasons also take the form of a novel À l'aventure, compagnons! ("On an Adventure, Comrades!").
- In 2019 came out the first novel not following the group, Les Veilleurs de Glargh (The Watchmen of Glargh)
- The first two seasons got adapted into comics with Marion Poinsotnote at the drawings and the third one begins to.
- Apart from the main series, several productions added flesh to the Land of Fangh (the setting of the series), developing the sheer absurdity of the adventures, ranging from fake advertisements for such products as the Chiantos candies (which have the interesting property of increasing one's capacity to annoy everybody around; a spoof of "Mentos", the French name approximately would translate to English to something like "Annoytos") or the Durandil swords, to an online encyclopedia about the history and the societies of the setting.
- Pen of Chaos, who is primarily a musician, also started to write humorous songs taking place in the Naheulbeuk world, before interpreting them on stage with his group, the Naheulband. Various CDs compiling those songs (as well as several bonuses) had been released.
- An adaptation as an animated CGI series is on its way.
- A video-game adaptation was released in September 2020 called Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk: L'amulette du Désordre ("The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos"). It is turn-based and use the Unity game engine. Along with the main cast of characters you get to hire an 8th adventurer: a Paladin, a Minstrel or a Priestess.
- A second video-game adaptation was released in November 2023 called Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk: Le Maitre du donjon ("The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Dungeon Master"). it's a simulation ala Dungeons or Dungeon Keeper. It's a Prequel starting 10 years before the main series, and puts the player in the shoes of Reivax, Xhandar's long-suffering half-golbin underling. Reivax has been hired to work in the titular dungeon, and is tasked with turning it from a mediocre heap to the fearsome and deadly place it is by the start of the series.
Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk provides examples of:
- Amusingly Awful Aim: The Elf's ineptitude with her bow, in a parody of the racial Archer Archetype, is a constant Running Gag of the series. It has happened that she hit something, but it's very rarely what she aimed at. Notably, the Ranger's leg during a fight with a troll — at first confusing him since the troll wasn't armed with a bow. Or, at another time, the chest of one of the dwarves that the party was rescuing from a squad of orcs; at least they could blame the orcs on this one, thanks to the Enchantress silencing the Elf in time.
- Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: In the third novel, some cheerleaders are quite upset that males of the guild have no intention to rape them. They did not even enter in their changing room on purpose.
- Artifact of Doom: The 12 statues of Gladeulferah, when "properly" used. Which means wrapped in ham and laid out around a dancing one-legged gnome.
- Artifact Title: The main characters leave the eponymous dungeon at the end of the first season, never to come back again. And it even gets seized by the administration because Zangdar the Dungeon Master is too broke to pay his taxes. Explained at the end of the last novel, though: all seasons after they left the dungeon either were consequences of them going there or involved Zangdar trying to get revenge on them. Now that Zangdar is dead, the Ranger feels that they had to his point only lived one adventure but now something else begins. It could also have something to do with the fact that they found a seventh member who did not die/quit this time.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: The Elf gets crowned Queen of the Elves in season 5.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The Dwarf's reaction to the Elf's death. In a more... physical approach, even though he constantly berates the Elf, the Dwarf was still as horny as the other males when she decided to go bathing in the nude.
- Baguette Beatdown: The Ranger accidentally attacks a weremole with a tuna sandwich, drawing it instead of his sword in the confusion. This ends as badly as you think it can.
- Barrier Warrior: Zangdar. The fourth season novel reveals that due to relying on his invulnerability sphere and never casting other spells, he lost the ability to control the latter.
- "Be Quiet!" Nudge: In Book #21 of the Comic-Book Adaptation, after the party saved a bunch of dwarves from a battalion of orcs, the Enchantress grinds her staff into the Elf's foot when the latter is about to mention that the arrow currently sticking into the chest of one dwarf seeking medical help is actually one of her own.
- Big Brother Instinct: The Ogre towards the Enchantress.
- Bring News Back: After the attack in tome 5, the group is the first to reach civilization, and promptly send Instant Messenger Pigeons to the cities of Glargh and Waldorg to warn the authorities of the threat.
- Can't Use Stairs: The Golbarg, an ancient demon that's trapped in the dungeon's abandoned floor because he's been hit with a curse that specifically prevents its victim from using stairs.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Even though it's still first and foremost an Affectionate Parody and a very funny one, the seasons 4 and 5 are more serious than the previous ones.
- Combinatorial Explosion: At some point in season 2, the group is kind of lost on their way to Boulgourville, carrying lots of ordinary items (some rope, a bow) and unlikely ones (among which nautical skis, an inflatable sword, a magic cleaning wipe...). When they debate that maybe they can use the items to get out, the Dwarf sarcastically suggests one such use:The Dwarf: I see what kind of thing you mean: With the three-fingered mittens we use the bow to kill some birds, we roast them on the kebab skewers on a fire made in the sugar box with bits and pieces of the nautical skis, and we eat them with the octopus's forks! We wipe our spit-soaked mouths with the magic cleaning wipe, after which the Elf smears herself with the stupid ointment vial, and performs a dance around the fire while wearing the crazy slippers and the bear tooth necklace, and waving the inflatable sword around! And in the end we HANG ourselves with the rope, because we're STILL LOST and we're RIDICULOUS!
- Continuity Nod: The characters sometimes refer to the events depicted in some of the Naheulband's songs. That's why the Elf should never know why trolls want apples when they see her...
- Crashing Through the Harem: In L'Orbe de Xaraz, the protagonists crash through the brute-ball cheerleaders' changing room while trying to escape their pursuers.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Their constant bickering and the fact that they are, indeed, quite dumb tends to make people forget that they get stuff done: they saved the world several times, beat a demon, killed two monsters inside the most dangerous Dungeon on the planet and more.
- Deadpan Snarker: Every member of the group tends to fall into this, but the Dwarf is clearly the champion in this domain.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Justified by Destiny Points, which allow a character's teammates to bring them back from the dead. Also subverted because if you run out of them, you get Killed Off for Real. Although you can be resurrected even if you're out of Destiny Points, via a magical ritual. But it's very expensive, and it can't work if the body and/or the mind of the dead one are too heavily damaged.
- Desperate Object Catch: The alchemist fire at the end of season 3.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Happens frequently in the novel, as the Elf has a really high "charisma"...
- The Ditz: The Elf, and how!
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: Supplemental material mentions a major fire spell called the "Conflagration of Doom". Its upgraded version is called the "Conflagration of Quake".
- Dramatic Irony: At the end of season 6, the Magician and the Ranger celebrate the fact that, with Zangdar dead, they no longer have to worry about people pursuing them. What they don't know is that now, a very old and very powerful vampire lord and a wizard lieutenant of Gzor have them on their shit list.
- Dumbass Has a Point: While the Ogre isn't very smart and is clearly only in the group due to his strength, a good idea pops up in his head every once in a while. The most notable instance was when he offered to give a troll bits of goblin for food so they wouldn't have to give him the Elf.
- Dumb Blonde: The Elf, even compared with everyone else.
- Dumb Muscle: Played straight with the Ogre, but surprisingly averted with the Barbarian. He's not exactly a genius, but he found the right answers to most of the enigmas the group needed to solve and often shows elements of being the Only Sane Man. Sort of justified when he reached level 2 and gained one intelligence point. Finally, the first book acknowledges his (relative) smartness by stating that he is seemingly more clever than most of his kin. See also Genius Bruiser below.
- Elves Versus Dwarves: Oh boy, where to start?The Elf: [who has fallen in a hole] Help me, I'm stuck!
The Dwarf: She says we can leave her behind.
The Elf: Get me out of here, it's slimy!
The Dwarf: She says she wants us to drop rocks on her and put her out of her misery.
- The End of the World as We Know It: Basically what the group tries to prevent in the novel. After all, they played a part in it...
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The main characters are only identified by their race or their class. More than 10 years after the start of the series, we still don't know their real names. Some moments in the season five imply (or outright state) that they don't want to give their real names. The Elf and the Barbarian receive the "fake" names of Selenia and Chef Taurogh (Chief Bullogh) respectively. Interestingly, everyone else has an actual name.
- Eyes Out of Sight: In the comic-book version, the Dwarf wears a helmet fully covering his eyes, and even without it he still has thick bangs to hide them. Later albums reveals it is a generic feature of the dwarf race.
- Failed a Spot Check:
- As she enters Zangdar's lair, the Elf complains about how ugly the rug is. The Ranger then has to point out the iron golem that's barring their way to her...
- Another one in season 2 when the Dwarf notices a weirdly-shaped piece of furniture.Dwarf: Hey, there's a coat-hanger shaped like a lizard!
Dwarf: The coat-hanger, its eyes just moved!
- False Flag Operation: The first part of the tome 5 baddie's plan.
- Forced Euthanasia: At one point the elf falls into a Pit Trap and yells at the rest of the party to rescue her. The dwarf has different ideas.Ranger: What's she saying?
Dwarf: She says we should leave her down there and be on our way.
Elf: Get me out of here, it's all sticky!
Dwarf: She says we should drop big rocks on her head to finish her off.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Orcs have them. When one character's arm gets orcish due to some weird Orc medicine, they notice two of their fingers have merged.
- Full-Frontal Assault: The Elf during the boat ambush in season 3.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Elf has Amusingly Awful Aim in the origial audio play, frequently missing enemies or outright accidentally shooting her allies during fights. In the video-game adaptation, she actually has pretty good aim.
- Genius Bruiser: The Barbarian may like fighting above anything, but he has still solved some riddles that his companions couldn't answer. Of course, it may say more about the "intelligence" of the others...
- Gentle Giant: Kinda. The Ogre is treated and acts like any other member of the group and is not evil, but he still has a very strong appetite. And he does have weird tastes sometimes...
- Gesundheit: The Dwarf takes offense at this happening:The Enchantress: [reading a location on the map] Chnaffon!
The Ranger: À tes souhaits.
The Barbarian: À tes souhaits.
The Dwarf: Die!
- The Greatest Story Never Told: At the end of La Couette de l'oubli, the adventurers manage to kill the evil wizard who wanted to awake the God of Slumber, and thus manage to save the entire world. Except that it all happened in the wizard's secret lair, so absolutely nobody except them knows about it.
- Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: The Enchantress and the Elf fight at range (though the Elf has trouble hitting the right target) while the rest of them clumsily plunder into melee.
- Homage: One song from the Naheulband is a Homage to Kaamelott. With the accompanying fan-art, it leans into Crossover.
- How Dare You Die on Me!: The Enchantress when the Elf dies...The Enchantress: Shit! Shit! Shit! How could you do that!
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Gluby
- Idiot Ball: Happens a lot, and is sometimes lampshaded.The Enchantress: [reading a chapter in a book, about Boulgourville, the Lost City, where they have to go] In the past, it was impossible to find, but today it's signposted.
The Ranger: Show us the map; is it far from here?
The Enchantress: Well... It's not on the map.
The Ranger: Wait... What do you mean?
The Enchantress: They say it's meant to discourage those who want to find the Lost City.
The Ranger: [in disbelief] ... So, Let Me Get This Straight...: they signpost the way to a lost city which is not on the map because they don't want it to be found?
The Enchantress: Exactly.
The Dwarf: That's utterly stupid!
The Enchantress: Indeed.
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: The Elf knows absolutely nothing about sex and about how other races deal with nudity. Combined with her gorgeous looks, this can be devastating for the male members of the group.
- Intercontinuity Crossover: In an episode, the Dwarf disappears for a few minutes without any reason. Well... actually, there is one. The characters of another MP3 series, Les Aventuriers du Survivaure (this time a sci-fi parody), accidentally beamed him in their ship as they were trying their brand-new teleporter. He even does appear in the corresponding episode of this other series.
- Killed Off for Real: Several characters get killed and resurrected. But not the Thief or the Minstrel, who don't have any Fate Points.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": The party has this reaction when they see the massive black dragon flying around their rendezvous point.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: During the course of the second season, the "heroes" have to travel through charming places such as the Swamps of Eternal Agony or the Road of Oblivion. And they also stopped in an inn called the Pervert Sewer Rat.
- Near-Death Experience: Due to being Back from the Dead, the Ranger and the Elf experience this once, and the Dwarf twice: angels with a weird sense of humor welcome them with the It Is Not Your Time speech.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: At the end of the second season, the group learns that the wizard who hired them for getting the magical statue, and to who they sold it, wants to use it for allowing Dlul, the God of Slumber and Boredom, to cover the entire world in the Quilt of Oblivion and freeze it in an endless sleep. Whoops...
- No Fourth Wall: The characters sometimes react to what the voiceover says.The Enchantress: We'd better get out of here.
The Ranger: But the voiceover said there'd be violent scenes.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Zangdar is played for laughs, but he is still a powerful wizard. In fact, one of his problems is that he has difficulties controlling his power: in one instance, he accidentally destroys a good portion of a forest and of a farm after having tried to cast a fairly low-level spell.
- Odd Job Gods: Lots of them, such as Bloutos (god of carpets), Braav (god of Lawful Good, which is definitely an odd job in this setting), Mankdebol (god of bad luck and fumbles; its name phonetically means "down on luck")... Then you've got gods who kind of overlap, such as sex goddess Lafoune (can translate as "the vagoo") and love god Malgar (needless to say, the former is much more popular) or Khornettoh, god of blood and violence (a portmanteau of Khorne and Cornetto, a brand of prepackaged ice cream cones), and Crom, god of brawling. Subverted by Dlul, god of Slumber and Boredom, who is probably THE strongest divinity due to every moment of sleep and boredom counting as a ritual prayer to him.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Back to the two first seasons, anytime the characters actually manage to perform well, they have to describe what happened later for somebody else (and for the sake of the audience). Examples: how they defeated the Iron Golem, or the mutant weremole. In both cases, one of the characters gets killed early in the fight and gets resurrected afterwards.
- Oh Wait, This Is My Grocery List: The Ranger reads aloud the random encounter table to his teammates, telling them they could encounter the undead, orcs and goblins, trolls, giant spiders, sorcerers, cursed warriors, mutant rats, a bottle of oil, toilet paper, two sponges and ravioli. Naturally, the Dwarf quickly points out what's wrong with that list.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: The group's bacon is saved several times by infighting among their enemies for the privilege of killing them.
- On Second Thought:
- The Thief suggests someone should stay behind to guard the dungeon's exit, but changes his mind when the Ranger replies, "You mean someone who wouldn't get his share of the 8000 gold coins?"
- Also, in the first episode, the Dwarf is about to call it quits because of the freezing cold before they even enter the title dungeon. He stays after the Ranger notes that doing this would make the Elf happy.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: The Dwarf is prone to fighting, loves beer and gold, comes from a mine and uses axes. However, it looks like his entire race just loves annoying the hell out of the other races. They're the ones producing the Chiantos candies, for a start. The Dwarf is so comically stereotypical that the game frequently lampshades it. While the other characters are described as a "strong barbarian" or "a nimble elf", he's described as "a dwarf... just a dwarf".
- Our Elves Are Different: Usually, in fantasy settings, elves are described as being highly intelligent beings. "Naheulbeuk"'s Elf, however...
- Our Vampires Are Different: Arkheim von Drekkenhoff. Turns out he only feeds on coyotes and is hemophiliac.
- Parody Commercial: Apart from the regular episodes, POC also produced "commercials" for in-universe products.
- Power of Rock:
- How the group manages to defeat Zangdar the dungeon master... Kinda.
- Also, the Minstrel once tries to calm down a berserk Hill Troll using his music. Subverted, as it fails miserably. *SPROTCH*)
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...:
- Quite possibly what happens when the Ranger tries to attack a weremole with a tuna sandwich.
- Later on, he drinks a potion of courage and attacks an heavily armored nogrok (ogre-orc hybrid). The result is very much this.
- Punished with Ugly: The backstory of evil demigod Gzor, as explained in one of the songs.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The whole party, very much.
- Resurrection Sickness: In the comic, the Elf is resurrected after a lengthy and costly ritual. She is, however, left very weak from the experience, and shivering in cold. She gets better after a good night of sleep.
- Role-Playing Game 'Verse: On all support, dices are once thrown by the narrator to verify which creature will be encountered. Also, characters use RPG slang such as fate points, the competences they have and the number of points attached to it, and know which level they are. The latter, when it change, is announced by a voice-over heard by the characters.
- Running Gag: Several, from the Elf's ineptitude in using her bow to the Ranger's poor attempts at leadership.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
- Tried several times by the Dwarf until he's reminded that would please the Elf or that he wouldn't get any treasures.
- The Paladin also makes this as he's fallen in love with an elven queen, and he realizes how incompetent the others are.
- Shameful Shrinking: In the comic book, after the group is forced to fight a Golem inside ancient desert ruins, the Enchantress is grumbling that the map they were following should have contained a warning... until she checks it and sees that, yes, it does contain a warning about the golem, she just missed it. Next panel, she's reduced to the size of a midget in shame, almost disappearing in her helmet.
- Shout-Out: A lot, ranging from movies to literature without, of course, forgetting tabletop games.
- For example, the Land of Fangh contains cults dedicated to deities such as Slaanoush or Khornettoh.
- The 20th episode was entirely devoted to shout-outs, using audio extracts of Conan the Barbarian, Willow and Back to the Future.
- The Barbarian promising to a bladesmith that he'll be back.
- A young wizard student is named Gary Topper and looking for his giant friend Bargid. (He ends up victimized by both the Dwarf (who breaks his wand) and the Enchantress who sells him the Rune Staff of Curse as "replacement".)
- It's apparently Cameo Village: in the comics, the background of that village is filled with various characters of other fantasy series, such as Deedlit and Lina Inverse, or others like Kratos, that were not mentioned in the original MP3 and have no interaction with the group.
- Among the heroes, the Barbarian worships a god named Crom, while at one point the Enchantress finds the "Robe of Archmage Tholsadum". And at a moment in the third book (season 5):The Barbarian: Because Conan said so himself [...]
- Another little one: in the second novel (season 4), as the characters are walking on some docks, we're informed of an argument between a fishmonger and a blacksmith about the quality of the former's fishes. Now where have we seen a similar situation?
- When the Dwarf mentions that he could use a drink, Arkheim von Drekkenhoff replies "I never drink... wine".
- Show Some Leg: In the dwarf underground city, when confronted with a mob of unruly dwarf civilians accusing the party of being the cause of the bad guys' attack, and of stealing their valuables (they're not wrong on either count), the Priestess makes a magic-enhanced Rousing Speech to calm them down... and gets a potent circumstance bonus by having herself and the elf baring their breasts to the all-male crowd.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: The Dwarf
- Spanner in the Works: Poor Zangdar. The main characters just keep on interfering with his plans, without them even noticing.
- Spraying Drink from Nose: In the comic, the Ranger squirts tea out of his nose when the Priestess announces that she and the Barbarian have "consummated their love".
- Standardized Leader: Subverted. The Ranger is the leader by default, but nobody in the group really agrees with this, and he doesn't really have the required qualities. A running gag is the Dwarf telling him: "Hey! It's not you the leader!" The updated version of the second episode reveals that their employer designated the Ranger as the leader of the group.
- Strategy RPG: The video-game adaptation allows you to position characters strategically; behind cover, or to make flanking maneuvers and/or sneak attacks. You can also touch off explosive crates of varying effects.
- Stripperific: The Elf's clothes apparently don't hide a lot of skin. And it gets worse every time she gains a level.
- Summoning Ritual: Parodied with a version that requires to wrap artifacts in ham.
- Take That!: A Shout-Out to Harry Potter turns pretty bad for the Potter analogue...
- Too Dumb to Live:
- The Elf, again.
- More literally, the Minstrel.
- Too Fast to Stop: The Dwarf, after he gains a pair of boots of speed, has lots of trouble controlling his moves and crashes a lot against the scenery. And into a trigger-happy wizard.
- Took a Level in Badass: Not a textbook example because it's gradual, but the company does get more competent as the seasons pass. In the fifth season, they even get real Crowning Moments of Awesome!
- Two Girls to a Team: The Elf and the Enchantress.
- The Unintelligible:
- No-one except the Enchantress understands what the Ogre says. Sometimes, it's for the best.The Ranger: I'd really like to know why the Ogre keeps on singing when we walk!
The Enchantress: Wait, I'll ask him... Gravoz vrotapa bozoh?
The Ogre: Gnolo.
The Enchantress: He says you can go fuck yourself.
- Subverted with the Troll they meet in the dungeon. At first, he only speaks in his own language, but it turns out he can speak the heroes' language and the growls are just a tourist trap.
- After season 3, they recruit Gluby the Northern Forest Gnome.
- No-one except the Enchantress understands what the Ogre says. Sometimes, it's for the best.
- Updated Re-release: The first episodes are currently being remade by Pen of Chaos with a better sound, better mixing, and additional dialogues.
- Vegetarian Vampire: Baron von Drekkenhoff, the haemophiliac vampire. He only feed on coyotes's blood.
- Wandering Minstrel: The Minstrel
- Weaksauce Weakness: The Dark Katakak, a gigantic insect-like abomination from out of this world. It combines nigh invulnerability and terrifying power with an insatiable appetite and severe digestion problems. Leave it be for a while and it will probably kill itself from overeating.
- Wheel of Pain: The Barbarian sets up one for training, calling it the "wheel of muscle". The Dwarf soon notices that it can be harnessed to mills, to get some gold out of the ordeal.
- The X of Y: The series' title, and the novels.
- You Have Researched Breathing: In The Amulet of Chaos, it takes perks points to teach some characters how to use or perform some actions. The Ranger needs a special perk to use a shield? Believable. The Barbarian and the Thief need one to wear heavy leather armors? Less so. The Ogre needs three perks to learn how to ram blocked doors and hold a weapon? This trope.