There’s a reason that this comic features a Fighter-shaped hole in the ground. No matter how good you think your game system is at simulating reality, at some point the numbers are going to result in cartoon physics. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Once you accept that your system is an imperfect representation of the real world, figuring out the in-game rationale makes for some interesting worldbuilding.

Take the example in today’s comic. Falling off a 200 foot cliff in d20 System results in 20d6 damage. That’s a maximum of 120 damage and an average of 70. If we assume a Con score of 14 and average rolls on the hit die, a 10th level fighter survives that fall most of the time, and a 16th level Fighter survives it all of the time. Interestingly, that 20d6 damage represents terminal velocity, meaning that our 16th level fighter can survive falling from an arbitrary height. Now I don’t care how good you are at decapitating goblins. No matter how many XP you’ve acquired in your journeys no human should survive orbital reentry, especially not 100% of the time. Therefore, we’ve got to invent some explanation for how this nonsense actually works.

So here’s my headcanon. What if character levels make you more than human? Maybe your big fat pool of hit points represents some kind of “heroic essence” that allows you to achieve superheroic feats of endurance. And if that’s the case, I imagine that there’s a club somewhere in the multiverse composed of high-level Fighters, Barbarians, and similarly resilient beefcakes. They journey to the highest peaks in the most scenic locales across the planes—the Axis in Golarion’s Boneyard, the Spire in Planescape’s Outlands, or even the comparatively humble Stardock in Fritz Lieber’s Nehwon—and take turns proving their metal by jumping from the summit. They each bring their own cleric to heal them up at the bottom of the cliff. Maybe they even have a few loaner clerics for newcomers.

“Gee fellas, that sounds swell! Can I join?”

“Well Timmy, you’re only seventh level. That means we’ll have to start small. Now why don’t you begin training by jumping off that bell tower?”

I may have to write up a high-level adventure for this hypothetical band of daredevils one day, but in the meantime I want to hear from the rest of you guys. When the rules of your favorite system fail to reflect reality, how do you deal with it? What kind of headcanon do you use to justify characters who parry lightning, break Usain Bolt’s sprint times without trying, or survive falling at terminal velocity?


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. Twice 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.