I used to think that Paladin was Fighter’s nemesis. After a few more years exploring Handbook-World though, I’m beginning to suspect it might be gravity. You’d think the dude would invest in some boots of the cat or something.

Today’s nugget of Handbook advice is near and dear to my heart. That’s because some of my favorite gaming moments come courtesy of what I’ll call “creative rules misunderstandings.” For example, I once found my hotshot goblin fighter pilot cuffed to his mortal enemy via a set of dimensional shackles. The mortal enemy in question had just failed a save against a very vengeful intelligent magic item, and was intent on prematurely ending our alliance of convenience.

“Hey GM!” says I. “Can I use my lock picks as an improvised weapon?”

“Sure. Why would you want to though?”

“It’s the only way I can justify dispelling attack on the dimensional shackles.”

“Don’t you need to deal sneak attack damage to trigger that ability?”

“Well I mean… the lock is flat-footed, isn’t it? No way it’s expecting to get sneak attacked.”

It is only by the grace of Gamers 2 that he allowed the maneuver. The roll was good, the shackles popped free, and my goblin lived to shank another day. I felt like a million bucks for coming up with a clever solution, and it remains one of my favorite gaming moments to this day.

It was a similar story just last session. My party was on a rescue mission to the esoteric dimension of dreams. Portals had opened up in a mine for some reason. A bunch of dwarves were getting their souls sucked by a pack of animate dreams. The party was split between the waking world and nightmare-land, and it fell to my gnomish mesmerist to buy time while the victims were evacuated back to reality.

“So you know how my guy is a practicing psychologist?”

“Sure. You put ranks in Profession (counselor).”

“And one of the first abilities he gets is called ‘towering ego.’ So speaking as a mind mage, is there any way I can exert an effort of will to shape a localized area of this plane?”

After a bit of GM chin-stroking: “Go ahead and give me a Will save.”

I proceeded to crank a succession of nat-15+ rolls. Sections of floating dreamscape capsized and dumped my enemies off the map. Iron domes closed around them. I even got into an ad-hoc Harry Potter force-of-will duel. They were cool moments. I felt like a badass. But there are some notable few subtleties afoot.

In the first place, I knew exactly what I was asking for. In both the lock-picking and the dream-fighting scenarios, I was attempting a low-probability-of-success stunt. The dice very much had to be in my favor. I was also using thematically appropriate abilities and character traits to earn the right to make those checks. And in both cases, the effects were relatively minor. The lock was all about slipping free as a standard action rather than a full round (I needed my move to flee my attacker!). Meanwhile, for all the flash and glitz of those dreamscape manipulations, they all boiled down to variations on “make one enemy skip its next turn.”

So by all means, Fighter! Make your case for a creative interaction between displacement and falling damage. Just don’t be too surprised if your demands for a high-probability-of-success/major effect/thematically inappropriate rules call don’t go your way.

As for today’s discussion questions, why don’t we all share our own “creative rules misunderstandings” with the class? When were you able to talk your way into a “that’s not really what the mechanic does, but I’ll allow it” scenario? Did it follow my suggested rubric of low probability/minor effect/thematically appropriate? Or did you manage to get away with something a bit more eyebrow-raising? Whatever your shenanigans, let’s hear all about ’em down in the comments!


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