I feel like Inquisitor and Cleric should hang out more often. Our resident ̶c̶h̶a̶o̶t̶i̶c̶ ̶g̶o̶o̶d̶ true-neutral dark elf seems every bit as practiced in the art of buzz-killery as her dwarven counterpart. At least she has the sense to shut up and take advantage of an opportunity though. No doubt she’ll slay if she ever manages to find a pair in her size.

As for today’s discussion, we already talked about very-specific bonuses way back in “Less Favored Terrain,” so let’s not belabor the ranger class’s issues. We’ve also discussed substituting abilities in non-standard situations in “Utility Shot.” We’ve even gone a few rounds battling the rule of cool back in “Handwave.” While I have no doubt that we’ll see talk shop about all of the above down in the comments, it’s the last that I’d most like to revisit today.

When it comes time to invoke the rule of cool, GMs have a judgement call to make. Is the player genuinely trying to achieve a fun moment from a character standpoint, or are they breaking rules in the name of unfair advantage? In Ranger’s case, it’s hard to imagine that saving a few copper on cosmetic items would upset the game balance. The calculus starts to shift is she insists that Favored Enemy (dragons) means she should know intuitively where to buy dragon hide armor. And it shifts yet further if she wants to craft that armor set for free after a dragon fight.

By the same token, there’s a danger more insidious than red dragon heels. When you’re too preoccupied with worrying about game balance, you risk ruining your players’ good fun. I still regret telling my alchemist bro, “No, you can’t harvest the giant scorpion’s venom,” back in my early days of GMing. I was trying to play by the rules, and I didn’t want to ruin my meticulously-balanced average wealth by level. With the benefit to of hindsight however, this is exactly the sort of moment where you’re supposed to reward player initiative. The several dozen Google results you can now get for “harvesting monster parts” should be a clue.

So for today’s discussion, what do you say we look for that delicate balance? How do you as a GM know it’s time to “yes, and” the player’s idea, and when is it better to stick with, “That’s not really how that works?” Sound off with your own examples of not-quite-legal rulings and that’s-so-clever-I’ll-allow-it hijinks down in the comments!


ARE YOU AN IMPATIENT GAMER? If so, you should check out the “Henchman” reward level over on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. For just one buck a month, you can get each and every Handbook of Heroes comic a day earlier than the rest of your party members. That’s bragging rights right there!