I think perhaps Drow Priestess has become the Wile E. Coyote of this comic. Will she ever enact her revenge, slay the Heroes, and escape her humiliating captivity? In the immortal words of my favorite IRL magic item, “All signs point to no.”

Of course, our indentured drow could be forgiven her error. On paper, it certainly looks like she has the drop on Thief. Firing at an unconscious target from close range ought to be easy. But then again, you’ve got to make allowances for the rules, not just your assumptions.

I’ll never forget the argument this mess spawned at my first 5e table. We had stumbled upon a troglodyte camp, and by some miracle managed not to raise the alarm. It was the first time in our Out of the Abyss campaign that we’d managed to make a group stealth check, and our light domain cleric was practically drooling at the target-rich environment.

“Scorching ray!” he shouts.

“Alrighty,” says our DM. “They’re technically prone since they’re still wrapped up in their little lizardman bedrolls. Roll at Disadvantage.”

What followed was a tirade straight from the lands of Air Force basic training: Dropping prone wouldn’t help in real life! Projectiles that missed would just ricochet off the floor! Going prone would be more dangerous because your head is now biggest target! It should be opposite because standing dudes can dodge! Plus there’s more surface area if you go prone because, dude… OK fine, it’s the rules, but this is bullshit and I shouldn’t have Disadvantage!

Suffice it to say that the scorching rays missed. Sportsmanship aside, the incident does highlight one of the strategies people use for making rules calls. When we’ve got complex systems of game mechanics flying around, falling back on common sense often is the right approach. That’s why we have GMs in the first place: making oddball decisions in weird situations and corner cases. Sometimes though, that instinct takes you to the wrong conclusion.

I can tell you from experience that folks will argue these points vehemently. The rallying cry is usually, “But that doesn’t make sense!” And I don’t think any of us are immune. In today’s comic, keeping your Dex while unconscious is one example. In a more recent Starfinder game, I got got by the paralyzed condition. Turns out your aren’t helpless while paralyzed (a change from the Pathfinder rule), and therefore not subject to coup de grace attempts. I still can’t conceive of being paralyzed and not helpless, but when life and death are on the line, it’s probably better to go by the book.

No doubt you guys have faced similar examples from your own games. So for today’s discussions, why don’t we channel the rage of my old airman pal, and call out all those weird rules that ‘don’t make sense?’ Sound off with your favorite example 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.