Funny story. The original version of this script called for Lumberjack Explosion, Brick, Allieand Snowflake careening around an aviary and freaking out. Laurel flatly refused to illustrate that many critters. I think I may have spent my political capital making her draw everyone back in “The Full Party.”

Any dang way, today’s comic comes directly from our megadungeon campaign. The party was trying to cross one of those the-floor-is-lava rooms, and so the usual slew of flight spells came out. There was your basic fly, overland flight, a carpet of flying, and even a specialized version of floating disk that was part of the room’s dungeon dressing. And then there was our cavalier’s mount. The phrase, “My riding gecko activates her winged boots,” prompted some logistics questions. Like… Would both boots go on the back feet? The front feet? Do they lace up properly? Can one’s noble gecko steed still climb effectively while wearing boots?

And let’s not even ponder the difficulties of teaching a non-sentient creatures to accept unfamiliar powers. If you’ve ever seen a cat in zero-G, that’s more or less my mental image. While I respect rules-based objections like fly gives you an intuitive understanding of your new movement capabilities, I can’t shake my real-world experience. And that experience tells me that horses are friggin’ dumb. They’ll freak out at tumbleweeds, plastic bags, other horses, the wind, or even especially threatening jackets. Snowflake does an excellent job illustrating how I think it would go down.

If your table is anything like mine though, practical questions like these will usually take a back seat to ease-of-play. I mean, who actually wants to spend a week teaching the receive spell trick to their horse? At nine tables out of ten you’ll just cast the spell, point your lance skyward, and declare a charge.

Or if the whole flying mount thing is too esoteric, consider the weirdness of unfamiliar items in general. There’s a reason that weapon proficiency is a thing. And if the item in question is from a particularly exotic culture, the basic rules might not even cover you. For example, the Starfinder module I’m running at the moment features this interesting little sidebar:

If you want to simulate the “alienness” of [alien] equipment, you can impose a –2 penalty on the relevant checks or rolls for PCs who use a piece of [alien] gear or weaponry. After handling an item for 24 hours, the PC can attempt a DC 14 Intelligence check to familiarize himself with it and remove the penalty. 

Is this kind of mechanic more trouble than it’s worth? Very likely. But as an optional “flavor rule,” I love the crap out of it. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’d need those 24 hours at minimum before figuring out a bat’leth. Sure the penalty is a bit of a pain, but it also goes a long way toward making the setting feel more real.

What do the rest of you guys think though? Do you like spicing up play with a little training time for the sake of verisimilitude? Or do you just want to gear up and get to combat without worrying about the practicalities? Tell us all about your in-character learning curves (or lack thereof) 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. 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.