Wow! Those neon signs are working after all these years? And the funereal obelisks of Aqua Vitae are laced with circuitry? That must have been one technologically advanced civilization! Kind of makes you wonder what other Heroes are likely to show up….

Wild and totally-baseless speculation aside, there is a common problem being depicted into today’s Handbook. And it has nothing to do with disruptions caused by cell phones at the table.

When players are obtuse, it can be straight-up obnoxious. There is such a thing as missing the plot hook (the three clue rule exists for a reason). But when players willfully ignore an offer just because they can, it’s poor form. I mean, if I’ve put in the time and effort to build a session around your character arc, deciding to go the other way feels like a slap in the face.

But then again, if you’ve instinctually furrowed your brow and said, “Wait a minute, Claire. You’re throwing a hissy fit because a player dared to exercise their agency?” then congratulations. You’ve made your Intelligence (Investigation) check and discovered the other side of the coin. A plot hook is an invitation. It is not a compulsion effect. And if you’ve got a couple of happy-go-lucky goofballs like Swash and Buckle at your table, you’ve got to expect that they’ll push the boundaries of the narrative and explore off the beaten path.

So for today’s discussion, why don’t we talk about players who refuse plot hooks? Have you ever had to scramble because a player missed out on their own backstory tie-in? What about the time they walked past your dungeon? Did you pick up bits to reuse later, or did you abandon them entirely? And to what extent is it the mark of a “good player” to accept the premise rather than rejecting it? Hit us with all your own inattentive players and oblivious scions-of-lost-civilizations 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. Thrice 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.