If you enjoyed the Handbook’s last team up with Hypertellurians, then you’re in luck! The same folks that brought us that madcap science fantasy romp are back at it. And let me tell you: having scoured the pages of my advance copy of Capes & Cloaks & Cowls and a Park, this is hands-down the most gonzo, pants-on-head crazy adventure I’ve ever beheld. While the basic pitch of ‘floating theme park contained inside an unraveling magic cloak’ was bonkers enough to catch my interest, it was the unconventional fashion theme that captured my imagination. Just see for yourself at the project’s Kickstarter.

While Wizard and Barbarian contend with the clockwork courtier Mustafo (proprietor of a replica wizard’s tower at the park’s Welcominarium), what do you say the rest of us talk shop about all things unfair and unjust? And in particular, why those can be desirable qualities in an NPC.

We’ll begin by bastardizing Sir. Isaac Newton. I propose the following law: “For every PC action, there should be an equal and opposite reaction from the game world.” This is the basic formula for giving your players a sense of agency. When they take an action, the world acts back at them.

What does this have to do with today’s robotic fashion designer and his preference for size-zero models? Simply this. The imposing Barbarian and the physically frail Wizard have a different presence in the game world. Their stat differences clearly reflect that reality. But those differences ought to be reflected in the game’s social reality as well. The old fantasy standbys of race  or class work with this principle, but those tropes can feel stale. For my money it’s more interesting if your get a ± 2 to Diplomancy checks for being fashionable; for showing kindness to the woodland creatures; actually speaking the local language; being a noble; knowing thieves cant; employing flattery; cheering for the right sports team; or simply kicking gratuitous amounts of ass in the last combat encounter. All of these examples reflect NPCs who have biases, opinions, and preferences beyond “did you hit my base Persuasion DC.”

In today’s example, Barbarian may feel unjustly singled out for her failure to conform to the unrealistic standards that the elven beauty industry places on humans. But I bet she’s going to feel a lot better when she climbs out of that pit and gives Mustafo the old rapid disassembly. In other words, the world reacted to her character specifically rather than treating her like “generic adventurer #2.” And if it’s me in that situation, I’m happy for the RP hook.

What about the rest of you GMs? Do you make sure to create NPCs with idiosyncratic tastes? What interesting biases could you give to salty sailors, refined nobility, or magical talking animals? And perhaps just as important, when is it better to treat PCs as fully equivalent? Sound off with tales of your own quirky characters and snobby constructs down in the comments!


Mottokrosh | Wizard's theme park realm Kickstarter (@Mottokrosh) / TwitterCAPES AND CLOAKS AND COWLS AND A PARK Come one come all! Venture into the ultradimensional, fashion-forward theme park of a vanished eccentric wizard. You’ll want to do it fast though, for the world is unraveling like a tattered cape!

This system-agnostic, self-contained adventure is from the same folks that brought you Hypertellurians. It comes as a lush hardcover A5 book with over 100 pages, featuring (in no particular order), themed islands floating in a golden sky, killer kittens, Giant Flying Galapagos Turtles, haute couture magic items, and enough creepy singing animatronic animals to fit in a small, small world. Check out the Kickstarter today!


ARE YOU AN IMPATIENT GAMER? If so, you should check out the “Henchman” reward level over on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. For just one buck a month, you can get each and every Handbook of Heroes comic a day earlier than the rest of your party members. That’s bragging rights right there!