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Podcast / Pretend Friends

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Flip for catchphrase!

Pretend Friends is an Actual Play podcast run by Nick Murphy, Paul Ritchey, Josh Henderson, and Kevin Cole. It features the four playing a campaign using the “Space Kings” Tabletop RPG ruleset. Cole acts as the DM in Season 1 (Space Kings) while Season 2 (Fantasy Hour, currently airing) features guest DM Hadley St. Clair.

The plot of Season 1's campaign is a science fiction tale following three fugitives—Davl Titor, Killcat the Space Cad, and Space Freely—as they rebel against the tyrannical Sol Empire. Along the way, they acquire new allies, try to figure out who they are, and cause mayhem wherever and whenever possible. Season 2's campaign takes place in a fantasy setting where our four heroes - Ken (alongside his sugar glider friend Sweetums), Deadward R. Murrow, Tindy Firehatchet, and Snorkul - as they travel through the Land of the Broken Isles, solving quests and getting into fantasy-related shenanigans and hi-jinks.


As of writing, neither “Space Kings” nor “Fantasy Hour” are fully-published game systemsnote , so some tropes might apply to the game systems themselves.

Pretend Friends contains examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    Tropes exclusive to Space Kings 

    Tropes exclusive to Fantasy Hour 
  • Aborted Arc: Midway through the campaign, the party learns that they’ll need to locate Ozric’s phylactery in order to defeat him. They promptly forget about it, and it isn’t really brought up again. Psych. Ozric promptly revives the issue when the party confronts him, talking about how crucial his phylactery is and rubbing in how forgetful the party can be.
    • Also, nothing ever really comes of Deadward finding information about his human self (and someone trying to find him) in Tanner's office.
    • Finally, it's suggested midway through the story that the Fey are extremely interested in taking down Ozric Fortibrand. Aside from helping the heroes a couple of times, they play no real role in the Final Battle.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The party travels through one twice in Laketown.
  • Aerith and Bob: Names are all over the spectrum, with some like Tanner, Cicero, and Ken, as well as others like Torvin, Larkspur, and Snorkul.
  • The All-Solving Hammer: Because of the way the Fantasy Hour system works, all the party members fall into this trope to varying degrees. Tindy, however, definitely takes the cake with how often she tries to use fire to solve her problems.
  • Anachronism Stew: A mild example, as Hadley is quite good at sticking with the fantasy environment. However, some things (like the McFancy’s restaurant and some mechanical devices) still veer into this. Frequently discussed as well.
  • Another Dimension: Two of them. The Void and the Fey Realm, intricately linked to Void magic and Spirit magic respectively.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: A very simple but effective one, delivered by Gelramel to Deadward.
    “Why’d you do it?”
  • Artifact of Doom: The grimoire Deadward receives from Avery seems… ominous. Of course, being that it’s designed to enhance his Void magic, that’s kind of the point.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: The whole party starts jamming while they encourage the whole city of Tackby to fight back against the Void invasion.
  • Bad Black Barf: Snorkul starts coughing this up after eating some nasty moss.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Holdaways Pub is a zigzagged example. On one hand, it's the local hangout of Tackby's more rough-and-tumble crowd and hosts fights regularly. On the other hand, most patrons aren't really antagonistic, just a little gruff. On the other other hand, the necromancy cult operates (at least in part) underneath it.
  • Bar Brawl: Episode 12 is entirely centered on one of these. Unusually for this trope, it's not caused by rowdy patrons: the Half-Flagon Inn is under siege by a necromancer and overrun by zombies.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The battle of the Half-Flagon Inn becomes this thanks to a combination of Tindy's malfunctioning fire magic, liquor catching fire, and a well-thrown Molotov cocktail from Ken.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Some Void monsters take this form during a fight late in the campaign.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Cicero pulls this when saving the party underneath Holdaways.
  • Black Magic: Void magic is treated as such, with powers such as banishing things to nothingness and brainwashing. Hadley has stated that it's taboo to use.
  • Bland-Name Product: The group visits "McFancy's" in one episode.
  • Bond One-Liner / Pre-Mortem One-Liner: The party’s “flip for catchphrase” often take these forms.
  • Bottle Episode: Episodes 19 and 20 are almost solely dedicated to gathering information, with no combat or real challenges and instead serve as slight character studies.
  • Breather Episode: See Bottle Episode above.
  • Call-Back: In one episode Tindy pretends to be a Keeper named Sutherland, and with her diminuitive stature she's... tiny Keeper Sutherland.note 
    • When Ken leads a riot to fight back against the brainwashed city guard he states that “the riot is its own reward,” a line spoken during a prison riot in the first season.
  • Catchphrase: Every time the party meets someone new, expect to hear “Hello, I’m Snorkul.”
    • To a lesser extent, “Tindy rules!”
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Cicero gets in on this to save the party.
  • Chekhov's Gun: While it’s only implied, the Void magic-infused wine bottles the party finds underneath Holdaways seem to be much more important to the villain’s plan than first apparent.
  • Cliffhanger: Episode 11 ends with the Half-Flagon Inn under siege by numerous zombies controlled by a mysterious hooded figure.
  • Combat, Diplomacy, Stealth: Tindy, Ken and Snorkul, and Deadward respectively.
  • Comical Overreacting: In one episode Rico is startled by a snake in the grass. His reaction is to spit venom at it, flipping 6 successes in doing so.note  Needless to say, the poor snake is blown to pieces.
  • Convection Shmonvection: The party spends a good amount of time fighting in a burning bar and don’t suffer for it at all. This wouldn’t be especially notable except one of them is a living tree.
  • Crowd Panic: The patrons of the Half-Flagon Inn devolve into chaos when zombies begin swarming the place. An unusually realistic example, too, as the panic creates a great deal of collateral damage and makes it difficult for the heroes to accurately assess the danger.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: While the party usually fights the Purple Guy on roughly equal grounds, their last battle in the Fey Realm results in the party absolutely kicking the crap out of him. He doesn’t even get a hit in.
  • Damager, Healer, Tank: Tindy and Deadward, Ken, and Snorkul respectively. However, Ken sometimes acts as a tank, and when Snorkul gets serious he plays both a tank and damager.
  • Darker and Edgier: Than Season 1, to a limited degree. While both seasons have roughly the same tone, Season 2 has less detours and sideplots than the first season, leading to a more focused plot with higher stakes.
  • Dead Hat Shot: The party realizes that Ozric has murdered Rico after seeing the former wearing the latter’s Cool Hat.
  • Defiant Stone Throw: Jam Jammerson lobs a peach at the now-vampire Captain Tanner for all the good it does.
  • Demonic Possession: With the right use of Void magic, individuals can be taken over by Void creatures.
  • Eaten Alive: The zombies who swarm the Half-Flagon Inn sure are hungry, and there's an awful lot of civilians milling about...
  • Edgy Backwards Chair-Sitting: Snorkul does this when trying to reach out to Kylen. Surprisingly, it works.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Some of the creatures that come out of Ozric’s Void portal qualify.
  • Evil Is Petty: Practically every villain that appears goes out of their way to be an asshole.
  • The Fair Folk: The Fey, complete with trickery and strange goals.
  • Fantastic Flora: Aside from Ken and other Treekin, there's also a strange moss that glows in absolute darkness and only grows where the boundary between the normal world and the Void is thin.
  • Final Battle: The multi-part showdown at city hall, including confrontations with the vampirized Captain Tanner, thralled Cicero, fifty brainwashed city guards, Avery, and Ozric Fortibrand himself.
  • Final Boss Preview: A very mild version. The party has a brief encounter with a zombified dragon underneath Tackby just before the Final Battle, but it flees after sustaining enough damage. Lo and behold, Ozric summons it back to his side at the very end of said battle.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The party roughly fits this, with friendly Snorkul as the Sanguine, fiery Tindy as the Choleric, analytical Deadward as Melancholic, and supportive Ken as Phlegmatic. Cicero and Lyric both have Leukine elements when travelling with the group.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: The party tries this with Purple Guy once they’ve captured him, with Ken and Snorkul filling the respective roles.
  • Great Offscreen War: A massive war took place some time before the events of the campaign. Not much is made of it, though Ken’s involvement leads to some awkward encounters.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Everyone in the party to varying extents, excluding Snorkul. Tindy’s definitely the standout example, though.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The magic spear that Ken acquires from Avery turns out to be extremely powerful, and crucial for defeating the Final Boss.
  • Intangible Theft: Despite being warned not to do so, the party tells Larkspur their names, resulting in this (though any repercussions aren't yet clear). Deadward, however, might have slipped through this.
  • Kick the Dog: Ozric murders Rico offscreen to help open his Void portal, then gloats about it to the party.
  • Killer Cop: Towards the end of the campaign, Avery brainwashes a huge swath of the local guard into serving her and attacking the party. And that’s not getting into Guard Captain Tanner trying to kill them much earlier.
  • Kill It with Fire: Many, many characters attack with magic fire. The villains manage to conjure up technicolor Void magic fire.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Discussed when the group laments (almost) being forced to kill a teenager, then learn that he's technically an adult and are suddenly much more comfortable with the prospect.
    Nick Murphy: In the society hierarchy, we're better off than if we had murdered a kid.
  • The Lost Woods: A forest not far from Tackby is definitely this, complete with the party getting hopelessly lost. It's actually where Ken grew up.
  • Molotov Cocktail: A common weapon, given the party’s explosives proficiency and how readily available alcohol is. An especially potent one from Ken manages to destroy four zombies in one attack.
  • Necromancer: The plot follows the party investigating necromantic activity in the town of Tackby.
  • Off the Rails: Attempted by Tindy in Episode 10, where she's determined to find Lyric before the (very clearly established) time they're supposed to reconnect. Hadley nearly goes insane.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Whenever two characters with distinct voices (usually Snorkul and someone else) interact, expect their accents to get completely muddled with one another.
  • Produce Pelting: Jam Jammerson and some other produce workers weaponize this while fighting back against the brainwashed city guard.
  • Red Herring: Purple Guy is not Ozric.
  • Running Gag: Several.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Tindy spends the entirety of Episode 10 drinking and looking for Lyric and achieves absolutely nothing except getting a knife to the gut. Amusingly, she does this in spite of being repeatedly told that Lyric will be at a specific location later in the day.
    • This continues into the next episode, which follows Tindy as she is healed of her stabbing, visits the library, goes to buy a bag of holding, and finally returns to the party. It isn't until the final moments of the episode when Lyric fails to appear for her show and zombies attack the Half-Flagon Inn that the plot begins to pick up again.
  • Shout-Out: Constantly, though some are more pronounced than others.
    • One episode has the group investigating a missing person named Kata. Upon discovering that they've been brought back as a zombie Paul gleefully exclaims, "Welcome back, Kata!"
    • An unnamed bard in the midst of Tindy's bar crawl is "gently strumming the strains of Cheeseburger in Paradise"
  • Standard Fantasy Setting: Generally has this.
  • Tasty Gold: Tindy does this at one point, though not for the regular reason: she's trying to bite the coin in half to tip someone "half a gold".
  • Title Drop: By George when lying about what the party is doing in an off-limits area. Immediately lampshaded by Josh.
    Josh: Did you hear George had a particular line for "Pretend Friends"?
  • Torches and Pitchforks: A heroic example. The townspeople of Tackby rally behind the party as they assault city hall in the final battle.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Technically, Tindy and Sweetums to the main party. Played much straighter when Lyric becomes a staple of the team.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: A few of them appear in Guard Captain Tanner’s office, most notably ones for guest characters Rico and George the Chairman.
  • Welcome to Corneria: When Tindy goes on a drunken escapade to find Lyric, everyone tells her that she's doing a show at 7 o'clock at the Half-Flagon Inn. Josh even compares it to a video game where characters are all telling the hero to get on with the main quest already.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 11 ends with the villains finally making a move and attacking the Half-Flagon Inn.
    • Episode 22 ends with an enormous Void portal being opened over Tackby with all hell breaking loose.
  • White Magic: Spirit magic is the rough equivalent, as it's the school of magic associated with life and healing.
  • White Void Room: The domain (or possibly the form) of Gelramel, the deity of fast food.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: Downplayed. The four heroes all join up at an inn, but two of them (Ken and Snorkul) already knew each other and they met Deadward beforehand.
  • Your Head Asplode: Deadward uses Void magic to make this happen to the zombified Kata's head. It gets messy.

Hopefully there'll be more tropes... next time, on Pretend Friends!

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