Weird. I thought we were playing Night’s Edge or Hypercorps 2099 or Vampunks or something. Turns out I was wrong. Judging by the sparks between Street Samurai and Artificer, we’ve somehow wandered into Thirsty Sword Lesbians. 😳

Of course, we aren’t here to talk about chemistry. We’re here to talk about the far subtler and more esoteric science of badassery, along with its attendant risks. Try too hard to and you run the risk of… well… trying to hard. There’s nothing worse than achieving cringe when you’re shooting for cool.

But then again, there are those moments when everything goes right. When you earn your epic one liner. When the rest of the table is right there with you, fists balled and eyes blazing, ready to punch through character sheets and into the fiction, where some malevolent thing is in dire need of smiting. We’re talking, “I do not stand by in the presence of evil.” We’re talking Master of Puppets. We’re talking, “DEEEATH!”

If you manage to get just one of those moments in your gaming career, you should consider yourself lucky. And at my table, one moment rises above all others. Is it time for another tale from the table? Does an Alchemical Exalt piss oil?

So no shit there we were, down in the guts of Autochthon and getting our assess kicked. The 40-foot tall avatar of a living city had let us into his inner sanctum, and we were not prepared. Dude had so many health levels that they looked like hit points, and enough armor to render all but our best combos useless. Laurel was ST in that one, and more than one of our Lords of Creation lay unconscious and dying.

If you want to know how the fight ended, go re-read “The Nuke.” It doesn’t matter though, because the actual deathblow was anticlimax. The real heart of  badassery isn’t action or violence. It’s resolve. The hero staggers. The hero falters. The hero stands one last time.

Our dawn caste solar was still clinging to consciousness, if only by a hair. She was a little girl with a big hammer, and an even bigger heart. All campaign long she’d been this inexhaustible font of optimism and hope. We knew we could never lose while she breathed. But there we were, in the industrial bowels of a rotting machine god, and with only a handful of health levels between us. It was looking like a very real TPK — Campaign over. Bad ending. Throw your charm lists onto the burn pile.

But she does what heroes do. She stands up instead, using her hammer as a crutch. She looks back at the rest of us. The player says, “I’d like to try a Prayer roll.” And in a small voice (so unlike her merry battle cry) our champion of Sol Invictus says, “I don’t want to die where I can’t see the sun.”

IRL tears were shed. The full three-die stunt was granted. We got to ignore our wound penalties for the rest of that combat.

My group now owns a matching set of “I Don’t Want To Die Where I Can’t See The Sun” t-shirts. And that’s only because we can’t afford a monument in the town square.

But what about you? If your group had to decide on a moment to memorialize as legitimately badass, what would it be? Is there an associated one-liner? Hit us with all  your finest commemorative statue plaques and group t-shirts down in the comments!


ADD SOME NSFW TO YOUR FANTASY! If you’ve ever been curious about that Handbook of Erotic Fantasy banner down at the bottom of the page, then you should check out the “Quest Giver” reward level over on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. Thrice a month you’ll get to see what the Handbook cast get up to when the lights go out. Adults only, 18+ years of age, etc. etc.