I honestly feel bad for the shambling mound in this situation. Dude was enjoying a nice combat, feeling good about his bonuses from an electricity attack, and now gets insulted for his efforts. I’m pretty sure that, “BARRAG, HUUM SCH?” is just Moundese for, “Come on, let’s hug it out.” Dude’s a class act. 

Magus, on the other hand, is not. I don’t know if you guys have ever encountered this, but there’s a certain tendency among players to disengage when their primary shtick is ineffective. You’ll see it most often among one-trick pony builds, which includes the classic Pathfinder magus move of spellstrike into shocking grasp. Here’s the usual sequence of events:

GM: You can tell that your spell didn’t do any damage. If anything it seems to have strengthened the beast.
Player: But that was a critical!
GM: Your mind races, trying to produce some alternate avenue of attack. What do you do?
Player: Whatever. I delay.

And that’s a critical moment in the combat. If the phrase “I delay” is in fact Playerese for “I need to look through my spell list real quick,” then all is well. If a more accurate translation is, “This fight is stupid and shambling mounds are dumb and I’m going to play on my phone for the rest of the encounter,” then we’ve got problems. Like the Handbook says, you might not be the star of this particular combat, but that doesn’t mean you should give up and pout in the corner.

If you ever find yourself tempted to make like Magus in such situations, I would remind you that the “aid another” action is always an option. You can get in position for a flank. You can trigger environmental effects. You can taunt your foe, dig through your bags for an item-specific answer, or go HAM with alternative weaponry. Speaking as a GM, my heart breaks a little whenever I hear, “There’s nothing I can do.” That’s the exact opposite of the way I want my players to feel, most especially because it’s never true. There’s always a way to contribute, so get in there and try stuff! Even if it’s a less-effective-than-usual option, it will be more fun than twiddling your thumbs and glowering at your mini.

Question of the day then! Have you ever seen a player give up and disengage? What was the situation? Did they manage to turn it around and overcome adversity, or are they still pouting to this day? Let’s hear your tales of demoralized players 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.