Poor Goldie. She’s a great magic item when it comes time for balls-out combat, but it’s no easy task sneaking around with shining golden cutlery strapped to your hip. As such, Goldie spends a lot of her time locked away inside Thief’s bag of holding. No wonder she’s going a little stir crazy.

You see, when you lock your ideas away in isolation, they tend to drift and shift and get a little funny. It’s a problem for sentient items, but I find that it’s also a problem for gamers. This is a tough concept to spell out, so let me start out with a few examples. You remember the time Sorcerer thought he could rocket-jump using fireball? Or when Monk tried to steak a vampire? Or when Druid mistook Allie for a carry-on item? In each case, it’s easy to imagine the out-of-game conversation that led to the error in judgement.

  • A fireball is just a big explosion, right?
  • Can you kill a vampire by staking it through the heart? 
  • How many creatures can a broom of flying carry?

In each case, the hypothetical player has a desired outcome, but they’re not communicating it effectively to their GM. What you’ve got to remember is that, when you ask your GM leading questions, you’re probably not going to get the answer you want. That’s due to the simple fact that GMs aren’t psychic. Sometimes we don’t know what you’re getting at, and so we inadvertently shut down your plans before they can get off the ground. In other words, it’s much easier to approve of actions than hypotheticals. 

Here’s another example. Suppose that you’re on a tropical island adventure. A mischievous monkey has just stolen your favorite magic item and scampered back into the trees. Being an animal lover, you don’t want to fry the little thief, but you certainly want your stuff back! Happily, being a wizard in a nautical setting, you’ve got the amusingly-named monkey fish prepared today.

“What kind of monkey do I become when I cast monkey fish?” you ask.

As the GM, I’m left to look at the spell text, look at you with a quizzical expression, and explain that the spell has nothing to do with becoming an actual monkey. And so you wind up frustrated since you just wanted a little bonus to your parley-with-monkey check. Had you actually said the words, “I want to cast monkey fish so that I can communicate more effectively with the monkey,” it’s much easier for me to follow your thought process. I might not allow the action, but there’s at least a chance that I’ll be amused enough by the creative idea to hand out a bonus to the check. I can’t do that when I don’t understand what you’re trying to accomplish.

Have any of your guys encountered this sort of interaction before? What were you trying to do? Tell us all about the player / GM miscommunications you’ve encountered down in the comments!


REQUEST A SKETCH! So you know how we’ve got a sketch feed on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon? By default it’s full of Laurel’s warm up sketches, illustrations not posted elsewhere, design concepts for current and new characters, and the occasional pin-up shot. But inspiration is hard sometimes. That’s why we love it when patrons come to us with requests. So hit us up on the other side of the Patreon wall and tell us what you want to see!