So there you are, looting the corpses of your enemies like a good little adventurer. You’ve taken the goblin’s couple of grubby copper, stripped him of his rusty chainmail, and so find yourself pawing through his distinctly unpleasant messenger bag. That’s when you hear it: the telltale clink of glass. Looks like mean green was packing some potions.

What happens next is proof that GMs are evil, black-hearted creatures. There in the moment of your triumph, when you should be enjoying the fruits of your labors (read: your murder of short green people), you’re now faced with a new challenge. What the crap does the potion do? 

If you’re fortunate enough to have a wizard, and if that wizard if fortunate enough to possess the identify spell, then you’ve got your answer. However, I find that murky liquids and unlabeled bottles aren’t quite the same thing as regular treasure. You know they’re different because your GM is peering over his screen like a street vendor watching some rube bite into to a “premium cut” hot dog. The pressure mounts, sweat beads on your forehead, and you know there’s no choice but to try your luck.

Like we said back in “P is for Poison,” there ain’t no Food and Drug Administration in fantasy land. No human being in his right mind would drink the crap you’re likely to loot off of a goblin corpse. Yet here we are. All eyes are on you. You’ve got to drink the goblin juice.

At this point you might have guessed that I’m talking about more than literal potions. The guess-and-check school of encounter design has more to do with pushing your luck than winning schwag. For example, you might think that coating your hand in the slightly-magical water will allow you to safely retrieve the maguffin from the furnace, but there’s only one way to find out. If you’re of the clerical persuasion, perhaps you’ve got to make a literal leap of faith. As in today’s comic, you might be a naive catgirl trying to score free hooch from the local laboratory tavern. And maybe—just maybe—sticking your head into the devil’s mouth is a good idea.

So how about it? Have you ever had to gamble on a hunch? What happened? Let’s hear it in the comments!


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