Original Text: (From Chuck)
Chuck Says: Why do they call them “Random encounter tables” when there’s nothing random about them? It’s just the same stupid monsters over and over. You want random? Fine, make it really random. A hampstersaurus. A mucus salesman. A toenail golem. A troupe of fornicating clowns. David Hasselhoff. If your players don’t start crying the moment you pick up the percent die, you’re just babying them.
When I wrote this one, the displacer moose originally had some other text. I don’t remember, but it was something similar. Probably “Rar.” (The period at the end is important. It implies Casey is delivering this roar in a monotone deadpan, which makes it even more absurd.) When the comic showed up, Shawn had changed it and I had no idea why. What’s the point of replacing one guttural sound with another?
I asked, and Shawn explained that the “Grrr. Arrg.” in the last panel is actually a reference to Mutant Enemy Productions, which is the organization Joss Whedon is using to try to take over the world. (Progress so far: Disappointingly slow.)
I love references like this. They sail right by people who (like me) aren’t in on the joke, but act as a secret handshake or an in-joke to the people who do. I love to work in details like this whenever I can. With two of us, we had twice the number of brains searching for obscure nerd culture references.
I also want to point out that I’d originally written this as a “Dire Moose”. The whole “Displacer Moose” was Shawn’s idea, so he deserves credit for one of the most popular jokes in the series.
I think this strip is a good example of our two brains coming together to make something better than if either of us had done it solo. It’s true, the original script had a Dire Moose in the last panel. Now, it’s a well known fact that Moose Are Funny (like pants). For some random reason the idea popped in my head that it should be a Displacer Moose, a tentacled beast that warps space around itself and does, um, moose stuff.
Then I had the idea to tweak the last panel in to a long time running joke between myself and my best friend. For years, she had found the idea of a moose eating Kiera Knightley’s head hilarious, and I would Photoshop such images for her whenever possible. (Don’t ask.) I really wanted panel 3 to feature Sapphire’s head in the Displacer Moose’s mouth. Shamus eventually vetoed the plan, which looking back was I think the right idea. I think the Displacer Moose is funny enough as it is, and the added bit of absurdity probably would have made the strip less funny to most people, and overly hilarious to a very, very small minority.
Also, if anyone has the original Chuck’s Random Encounter Table that ran as a bonus feature to this strip, could you please send it to Shamus or myself? Shamus put that thing together, it was hilarious, and I don’t think either of us have a copy.