I will never forget it. We were in a Rise of the Runelords campaign. I was playing that generalist barbarian I talked about way back when. And at long last, it was my turn to be the big burly fighter guy in the sawmill.

This was a Core-only Pathfinder 1e game, built to accommodate a buddy’s first time behind the GM screen. Relatively simple mechanics. Relative few options. That meant I could go for all the underpowered-but-fun shenanigans. And as you might have guessed from today’s comic, that meant Strength Surge + Knockback.

Today is one of those days when Fighter’s face reflects my own. Because anyone who’s played RotR knows that there’s a certain sawmill lurking about the vicinity of Magnimar. And boy oh boy is it full of fun things to push NPCs into.

The floor of this room has a thick carpet of sawdust, penetrated by two large log splitters and saws set up over openings in the floor. Another pair of openings is fitted with winches and ropes to raise and lower uncut lumber from below.

Just imagine encountering this scenario when you happened to spec into a reposition-the-bad-guys build. There were friggin’ rainbows bursting out of my character sheet. Any number of creepy mill workers with I’m-a-cultist masks made from human flesh were lining up just waiting to get bull rushed. And I was ecstatic to oblige.

Now imagine the crushing weight of my disappointment when our bard kept making his Charisma checks.

“Sure we’re fellow cultists! Can we have some of your magic items for free? Where’s your boss so I can charm him?”

We took that mill without ever rolling initiative. I believe the local constables eventually wandered up to arrest the baddies we’d captured. In summary, no one was pushed into a working splitter. No one took 6d6 points of dismemberment damage before falling into neatly stacked chunks in the collection bin 10 feet below in area D4. And no one could understand why I’d crumpled my character sheet and tossed it over my shoulder.

All I’m saying is that perfect opportunities only come around once in a while. Know all your rules. Make sure you can seize the opportunity. You never know when it will come around again.

Question of the day then! When have you had the perfect mechanical answer at your fingertips, only to see the story go another way? Was it a spell that relied on subtlety rather than brute force? Maybe a siege weapon that never got fired? A bardic performance you forgot about until the encounter was over? Whatever that perfect-but-unused thing was, tell us about your woes down in the comments!


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