Happy Holidays from Handbook-World! Or at the very least, I hope yours are happier than Team Bounty Hunter’s. Getting mauled by ugly sweater cloakers is not my idea of a good time. Then again, this is exactly what the people wanted. Asked to vote for an appropriately festive encounter, our Quest Givers over on Patreon settled for these monstrosities. Better luck next year to all the nutcracker golems, black figgy puddings, Christmas treants, present mimics, and wendigos that didn’t make the cut. Also better luck next year to Team Bounty Hunter. They just can’t seem to get the hang of Yule.

Of course, this entire situation could have been avoided if Magus was a little more willing to metagame. I guess she gets points for sticking to the oblivious catgirl shtick, but come on! Your partymates are dying! Maybe assume that you made your Notice Stuff check and help them!

If we’re being fair though, it isn’t always so easy. That’s because the player isn’t necessarily the one who gets to decide what they notice. Just consider the situation at hand. A couple of creepy crawlies have popped out of the wrapping paper and thrown themselves at our beloved bounty hunters. Clearly, the unsuspecting adventurers getting attacked know exactly what’s going on. But what about the character sitting five feet away? Maybe Magus just thinks that Inquisitor and Ranger really, really hate the pattern. Maybe their cries of alarm are just cries of revulsion from a pair of hard-to-shop-for heroines. These shenanigans make a nice gag in a comic, but it has the potential to be obnoxious in a game.

This is exactly the sort of situation where GMs ought to be careful. Asking for a Perception or a Sense Motive here is redundant. If animated knitwear wants a piece of me, I’m guessing that my buddies will understand I’m not performing a sudden and violent piece of improv puppetry with my new pullover. I’m being friggin’ attacked! The same logic applies to invisible enemies, mental attacks, and spotting McGuffins in the midst of melee. Tacking on an extra roll to glean information about the environment may seem logical. But in these kinds of situations, it can just come off as arbitrary, especially since your allies can just explain what’s going on. Worse, it really slows down the flow of play. Nobody likes being told that they don’t get to act for the round because they’re suddenly, inexplicably oblivious. What I’m saying is that surprise rounds can be a lot of fun, but only when they’re uses responsibly.

Question of the day then! Have you ever been victimized by an unnecessary Notice Stuff check? What was the very-obvious information in question? Tell us all about those irksome unneeded Perception checks 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. Twice 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.