Poor Cleric. Dude just wants to play properly. If only the rest of the Heroes understood the beauty of RULES-AS-WRITTEN.

Of course, today’s comic goes a little beyond the rule of cool moments that make for memorable gaming. Deciding to allow a cool stunt even though it’s physically impossible is every GM’s right. I mean… did you guys ever seen the flying tank scene in the A-Team movie? Yes it’s stupid. And yes, I want to play in that game.

I’m sure we can come up with any number of examples. We’re talking about jumping with Fighter across the Grand Canyon or (even more absurdly) to the moon. We’re talking about seducing the dragon or going full Bearinton. This sort of absurdity can be found in negotiating for magic items at a copper each, or using your acrobatics to phase through a solid wall, or telling such a compelling lie that the other PCs forget you ever existed. You may scoff, but I don’t think these are necessarily “bad actions” just because they’re silly. I’m an Exalted player, so I know that any of these goofy situations can and should be possible in the right kind of campaign. What’s more insidious is the belief that, because of XYZ result on the die, a chosen version of reality ought to spring into existence.

These games we play are a constant negotiation. Players propose, dice inform, and GMs decide. When you stray too far from that formula, you risk a return to the little kid realm of cops and robbers.

“I shot you!”

“No you didn’t!”

“Yes I did!”

When you mistake a natural 20 for “I do the thing,” you’re not just messing with the rules. You’re not just messing with the integrity of the fiction. You’re messing with the fundamental premise of cooperative RPG play. In effect you’re saying that, “My version of the game world is the only one that matters.”

So sure, if your group wants to put a little extra stank on Nat 20s and give them special results, that’s fine by me. I even think it can be fun if you handle it with finesse. Just don’t expect a die roll to be the last word on what really happens in-game. As Fighter is about to find out, that’s how you wind up boarding the d10 hit die express elevator.

Question of the day then! Have you ever encountered the phenomenon of “I rolled a 20 so [insert goofy thing here] happens?” What was the situation? Did the player ultimately succeed, or were they in for a reality check? Tell us your tale 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.