#15 A Truly Random Encounter

#15 A Truly Random Encounter

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.

Shamus Says:

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.

Shawn Says:

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.

Discussion (19)¬

  1. -F. says:

    I’d totally forgotten about this one. As soon as I saw the dogsnake I remembered and started scrolling down, giggling like a little girl in anticipation.

    The moose is still as great as it used to be..

  2. Mari says:

    Wow, Shamus. You just lost geek cred by admitting that you didn’t get the Mutant Enemy reference. Still, all’s forgiven because this strip is too funny to hold a grudge.

  3. Wil K. says:

    I love Josh’s attitude in this strip. *No, this is just too ridiculous. Even for someone who named their character xXKillStealr69Xx*

    The oddly stoic look on Marcus’ face is amusing as well.

  4. Terran says:

    I love you Displacer Moose!

  5. Avilan says:

    It is far scarier than the displacer beast.

    And I got the reference to Joss Weldon. :)

  6. Hank says:

    That displacer moose is awsome. Much funnier than dire moose, since D&D 3.5 actually has dire moose in one of suplements.

  7. Shawn says:

    Hank – I am somehow not surprised.

  8. Gillsing says:

    Moose might be funny, but much like elephants, if you don’t have a gun, they can be pretty dangerous if they want to be. So a dire moose isn’t a joke, really. Mess with the bull, and you get the horns. Of course, like any giant animal, it doesn’t really matter how dangerous they are, they’re still pretty lame. Just ask any adventurer in the guild, and they’ll tell you. Better let Conrad deal with them. ;-)

    Aside from that, I didn’t notice the Mutant Enemy reference until it was pointed out, even though I do remember that cutout of a nosferatu going across the screen at the end of every episode of Buffy. Always a nice pick-me-up if the episode had been particularly boring. (I like Joss Whedon’s jokes, but not his drama.)

  9. Catbunny says:

    When this showed up the first time, I showed it to my husband, the Champions GM. He worked out a plot to include it. (Modified from a Tales From the Floating Vagabond plot.) He’s inflicted it on two gaming groups, now.

    … and I’ve always thought of the “Grr. Arrgh.” as an homage to the Buffy movie. What with the vampire with the ruler stuck in his chest. :)

  10. Rogue765 says:

    The moose is growling with it’s mouth closed. Do I have to take a drink? :)

  11. Myron says:

    Shawn, I’ve not got the original image for Chuck’s truly random encounter table, but I printed it out and can scan it. I have got 49 avatars on my hard-drive though (including both the Dog Snake and the Displacer Moose).

    Please let me know how best to get these to you so you can share your awesomeness with the world !

  12. ThunderCrush says:

    Shawn, I have a copy of the original .jpg. How would you like it sent?

  13. Shawn says:

    Thunder – if you could just email it to me: shawn dot gaston @ gmail dot com that would be the easiest.

    Myron – if you could toss all of the avatars in a zip file and email it to me at the same address, that would be great.

  14. Decius says:

    A displacer moose once bit my sister…

  15. Augustus says:

    “You are not allowed to buy monster books from the discount rack ever again”

    Love i :) .

    At times it did seem like you had the best jokes in the middle of the comic…

  16. simianlovedoc says:

    This was always one of my favorite strips from CB.

  17. Felblood says:

    I almost bought the 3.5 MM3 from the discount rack, for the Dire Moose.

    Yeah, it sounds stupid, but the picture was totally badass. Just show them the page, and they’ll know this isn’t some puny Dire Hellbear, that you can just sail past. THIS! IS! DIRE! MOOSE!

  18. Mamaslyth says:

    “If your players don’t start crying the moment you pick up the percent die, you’re just babying them.”

    This line for me is one of the funniest. I always start crying from laughing when I read it.

  19. Peter says:

    Just as an aside – the random encounter table mentioned by Shawn has been found and is available under Downloads.