Poor Thief! She finally manages to break her bad luck curse long enough to make a very difficult check, and her only reward is social awkwardness. Girl can’t win for losing. Of course, this unfortunate situation exists outside of the I’m-the-only-one-who-knows-your-love-interest-is-secretly-a-horse particulars of today’s comic.

Any time you utter the phrase, “Everybody make a Perception check,” you risk a similar crisis. This is metagaming 101, and most gamers are quick to outgrow the disconnect between character knowledge and player knowledge. However, I can remember a time before my group made that transition. Story time, kids!

So no shit there we were. It was a high school game and I was a greedy rogue. I mean, the word “rogue” was right there at the top of my character sheet, so QED I must have been greedy. At least, that’s the inference my colleagues at the table made. You see, we were of an age when stealing from the party coffers seemed like a good idea. Surprisingly enough however, I wasn’t the one doing the stealing. That honor went to my pal the ranger. He had a solid little move silently score, and he thought it would be a good idea to skim a little off the top. Unfortunately for him, my spot skill was even better.

So there he was, shoveling furtive fistfuls of coins into his pack. And there I was, lying still within my bedroll, eyes half-lidded as precious gold glinted in the light of our campfire. I was the only one who had made the check to notice, and all eyes were upon me.

“I make no move. I pretend to sleep.”

The feeling of disappointment at the table was palpable. My buddies had expected alarums and accusations. Surely a greedy rogue wouldn’t stand for this sort of thing! But I bided my time and waited for the next night.

As expected, the ranger returned to the scene of the crime. Once more he rooted around within the loot chest during his watch, this time taking one of the pearls we’d plucked from a river troll’s hoard. And once again, I was the only one capable of beating his move silently check.

“I make no move,” I said. “I pretend to sleep.”

But inwardly I grinned. That’s because everything was going to plan. You see, I was a greedy rogue, but I was also a smart one. I had plans to gather evidence against this inexpert burglar. I would present him with proof of his wrongdoing, and so make him my cats-paw.

“You’ll continue with this thieving business,” I would say. “But you’re going to cut me in for 80%. Otherwise I’m afraid I’ll have to present the good Sir Smitesbury with certain proofs of your duplicity, and we both know how he loves to make an example of criminals.”

It was deliciously in-character. It would be a masterstroke of skulduggery! It wasn’t meant to be.

“Hold on,” said our DM. “I don’t think you understand what’s going on here. He’s stealing from the party treasury. From you.

“Yeah,” said Sir Smiteby. “You’re a rogue. You’re all about gold and stuff.”

“Honestly,” said the ranger, “I feel like you’re misplaying your character.”

Remember folks: we were in high school. We had like… three sessions of experience between us. And being an extremely mature teenager, I blew up at my friends and told them exactly how wrong and dumb they were. I believe we proceeded to kill some goblins and then not play together again for the rest of the semester.

And if that seems like an unsatisfying anecdote to you, then you might understand how I felt playing through it. We all grow up one session at a time.

I understand now, many years later, that it’s tough to sit on your hands and watch another player decide to do nothing with a perfectly good plot hook. If you’ve ever heard tales of do-nothing players deciding not to warn the team that they spotted an incoming dragon, discovered an important clue, or overheard a critical NPC conversation, then you know how frustrating it can be.

That brings us, in a roundabout way, to the question of the day! When your character is the one holding the plot hook, do you feel compelled to share with the rest of the table? Or do you like to sit on that information and bide your time? Does Thief have a responsibility to confront Lumberjack Explosion about his secret superhero identity, or should she wait and and watch the ill-fated romance play out? Let’s hear your learned opinions on inactive PCs and un-taken hooks down in the comments!


EARN BONUS LOOT! Check out the The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. We’ve got a sketch feed full of Laurel’s original concept art. We’ve got early access to comics. There’s physical schwag, personalized art, and a monthly vote to see which class gets featured in the comic next. And perhaps my personal favorite, we’ve been hard at work bringing a bimonthly NSFW Handbook of Erotic Fantasy comic to the world! So come one come all. Hurry while supplies of hot elf chicks lasts!