We’ve seriously done 500 of these things!? Well there’s a milestone. It feels like only yesterday when we started cranking out comics, but it turns out that was all the way back on September 7th, 2015. As of this writing that’s 4 years, 9 months, and 6 days ago. In that time we’ve grown from four Heroes (Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, and Thief) to a cast of over 50 named characters. We’ve started growing as a business too, taking on a second comic in the Handbook of Erotic Fantasy over on Patreon. Along the way we’ve swapped stories, made friends, shared GMing tips, and had more good laughs than you can shake a d20 at. Our sincere thanks to all of you who’ve shared the adventure. We can’t wait to bring you the next 500 comics.

As I pause to reflect on the Handbook’s trajectory so far, I think that there’s a valuable lesson for the tabletop. In the pursuit of better gaming, we spend a lot of time and effort focused on the climactic moments. These are the big boss fights, the dramatic reveals, and all the cool set piece encounters. These moments tend to stand out in our memories, and it’s easy to get caught up in the flashy stuff. But in the same way that classical dramatic structure demands rising and falling action, taking time off from adventuring is important too.

What does that look like in practice? I’m talking about those in-town sessions where you visit your favorite NPCs. Going to the castle to receive your accolades. Basking in the glow of a job well done, relaxing in the tavern or the guildhall, or simply enjoying a little conspicuous consumption. You’ll often hear players talk about how, “We didn’t roll a single die, and it was one of my favorites sessions.” Those aren’t good sessions just because they’re free-form RP. They also offer a valuable break from all-action-all-the-time.

I often think of this concept in terms of musical dynamics. If your song is all fortississimo it stops being exciting. When the slow build towards crescendo is replaced with the constant blare of trumpets, the thrill of anticipation drowns in noise. That’s why the Marvel theme or the Fellowship theme work so well. They take their time to work towards the high points, and a good adventure should do the same.

In other words, when the party is done with Heroic tier and ready to move on to Paragon, I say to take your time and enjoy it. Go to the spring festival or train with your master. Explore the setting for a half a second. The evil alliance of chromatic dragons can always come sweeping in as the next inciting incident. That adventure will always be there waiting in the wings, but the moment of respite is fleeting.

These games we play are long. Campaigns break down all the time. People move away, GMs burn out, and personality clashes bring an end to the adventure. So when you do manage to achieve a major victory, remember to enjoy it. Because those moments are rare, and that’s what makes them worth celebrating.

Question of the (500th) day then! When did you last spend some time wallowing in victory rather than gore? Did the party go to a nice sauna? Maybe you enjoyed a staycation back in town. Or did you perhaps blow all your hard-won gold on a fancy new keep? Sound off in the comments with the details of all your favorite non-adventuring sessions!


EARN BONUS LOOT! Check out the The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. We’ve got a sketch feed full of Laurel’s original concept art. We’ve got early access to comics. There’s physical schwag, personalized art, and a monthly vote to see which class gets featured in the comic next. And perhaps my personal favorite, we’ve been hard at work bringing a bimonthly NSFW Handbook of Erotic Fantasy comic to the world! So come one come all. Hurry while supplies of hot elf chicks lasts!