Is your D&D or Pathfinder gaming group a little lackluster right now? Well, a good ‘ole fashioned heckle may be the best way at motivating players at your gaming group.
Go ahead, work around the table and mock fellow players one by one, particularly right before they roll a die. Sure, they may look at you like they are annoyed and seem to never invite you over, but you know that deep down inside, they secretly love it. So give ’em all you got.
I’ll give you a few examples, and most of these can work against monsters or DMs. But mainly they are for fellow players who may need a little tough love. And trust me, insulting their play is the toughest way to show love.
But rather than go situation-by-situation and seed you with zingers, I’m going to leave the creative heckling largely in your hands. Have a couple beers while you play. Trust me, yelling something ridiculous is sure to follow after that. In closing, I’ll focus on a few guidelines for writing heckles that are sure to motivate your D&D gamin group’s performance.
This brings us to an important rule in heckling: your heckles need not be true, fair, or unbiased. This is tabletop roleplaying, for crying out loud. Shouting out patently false nonsense actually works in your favor. The orc, goblin, kobold, or your fellow players will think one of three things:
- You are weird.
- You are drunk.
- You are the most interesting adventurer they have ever battled.
Either way you have an audience for your next heckles, so make them count, because the rest of your party may be low on hit points and they are counting on you for a morale boost.
Most tabletop gamers have come to an agreement that their die rolls will be an embarrassing mess. The evidence is everywhere. In the birds of the trees, in the water that flows down the mountains, and in your immortal soul, where you know it to be true. Most importantly, it’s known because you rolled a 4 on your last skill check.
But a captivating battle cry brings hope! The party’s rogue, besides needing a +2 boost to her AC, really needs 110% out of your heckles. Let’s motivate her.[divider] Sample Heckles for Your Gaming Group [/divider]
Now that that is out of the way, let’s get to business. I’m going to share some suggested heckles with you, but be prepared to go off script. Heckling is something you have to feel in the moment. This heckle is meant for the orc who is chucking javelins your way:
“Hey Greenie, I’ve seen a better arm on a box of baking soda!”
I’m not even sure what that means, but I think you get my point. Make your heckles situational. Or just call them all chumps! I imagine that “chump” works just about everywhere, regardless of fantasy or sci-fi setting.
This heckle is for the spell caster who has a verbal chanting component to spell casting:
“Hey Necromancer, Yoko Ono controls her voice better than you!”
This heckle, of course, cuts to the quick of the fact that I have no idea what the circumstances are in your gaming group.
“Hey NPC, you shave your legs this morning?”
Sure, this is a nonsensical reference to who knows what, but at least it’s punchy.
Always a good option is to yell “you suck”, but with a simple pocket translator you could’ve said “you suck” in Japanese. That’s a money insult, bro, and you can write the additional language known on your character sheet.
Halflings are actually too easy to heckle:
“Hey little man, it’s sweet that your mommy lets you stay up at night.”
“Hey Little Buddy, you want me to pick up that masterwork greataxe for you?”
“Fella, where did you get that little sword? You borrow it from your niece?”
Those are all so obvious that it’s not even fun. I’m not sure any of this is any fun.
Finally, a few words on proper heckling technique:
- The megaphone. If you can smuggle an actual megaphone into your gaming group by stuffing it into your pants, then great. If not, cup your hands around your mouth, point your head toward the intended miniature, then let ‘er rip!
- Your timing is critical. Right before a die roll is an excellent place for a well-timed heckle. Also, if you can hold off until the intended player is about to make a skill check in a critical situation, then do so. A well-timed heckle may sound harsh, but it’s busting their chops for rolling a 1 that will cause them to hit rock bottom and work harder.
- Beer. It helps.
- Repeat. If the player didn’t hear you, then repeat your heckle until it is acknowledged. This technique isn’t annoying at all.
- Be prepared to exit quickly. If you are playing in a public place, surrounding tables may be irritated by you, but ignore them. You rolled up that character! Worse though is that they won’t understand that you are ultimately doing this for your fellow player’s own good. D&D players can be big sissies. It builds character for them to get a good, honest verbal feedback. Just be prepared to run out of the game store, potentially before the closing encounter is over.
- Don’t heckle your DM. Your life is literally in their hands. Don’t tempt them with your fate.
Remember, if your fellow players aren’t adequately motivated by your heckles, it’s on them, not you. But that’s not to say to give up on trying to motivate them. Meta-gaming, insulting their decisions, trying to play their characters for them, and showing them the cold shoulder by repeatedly showing up late or unprepared for game group are potential motivators as well.
And here are some more heckles for you, provided you are a glutton for punishment.