Today’s comic marks the final installment of our Capes and Cloaks and Cowls and a Park sponsored-content-trilogy. Our newfound animation powers seemed like a fitting sendoff for the occasion. It also seemed like a fine opportunity to perpetuate our bad kitties theme.

What with the unraveling fabric of the titular park’s pocket dimension, things have gone horribly awry at the petting zoo. As Fighter really should have read in the sourcebook: “The kittens have multiplied, evolved into depraved killing machines, and installed a complex monarchy with them at the head.” One can only hope that Mr. Stabby can cast dancing lights

Of course, this difficulty could have been avoided if our resident murder hobo had learned form his past mistakes. As Steve Jackson is so fond of reminding us, you really should know better than to etc. etc. But by the same token, anyone who’s ever sat behind a GM screen knows that players like to push the big red button just to find out what it does. So if you’re in Fighter’s position, you’ve got a decisions to make. Do you take the minotaurs’ warning and steer clear of the evil cute thing’s throne room, or do you push your way inside and find out what all the fuss is about?

To my way of thinking, moments like this are exactly where foreshadowing comes in. We talked about random rumor tables not so long ago, and encounters like murder-kitten are where they shine. The locals whisper fearfully. The bones lie outside the pavilion. But unless you’ve got access to expert investigation skills,  players will have to make a best guess at whether “She Whose Thirst Cannot be Slaked” is a real threat or a tall tale from some drunken local yokels. That means foreshadowing is really just guesswork; results are still ultimately random; players may misinterpret warnings; NPCs may lie convincingly. 

But here’s the subtle thing: reliable information isn’t important. The warning itself is important. As design-bros are so fond of saying, games are all about interesting decisions. Choosing to fight a CR-appropriate encounter because you have full hit points and your party is likely to win is all well and good. Congratulations on your system mastery. But to my way of thinking, the gambler’s thrill that accompanies imperfect information adds an extra layer of interest to a narrative game.

I’ll give you an example from last weekend’s dungeon delve. The players had just landed on the shore of an underground lake. A couple of tunnels led off to who-knows-where.

“Is there anything to distinguish these paths?”

“Yeah actually. The smell of rotting flesh emanates from the northern passage. The southern passage seems less foul, but as you peer down its length you can hear a woman’s scream echoing out of the darkness. It is abruptly cut off.”

In this situation, players don’t know if the northern tunnel contains easy-to-loot corpses or high-level undead. They don’t know if the southern passage contains a captive warrior woman (and potential ally) or a tricksy mage with access to ghost sound. However, any level of information gives you more to go on than, “The passages are identical and featureless.” In other words, the interesting decisions has to be fed by context. And that’s true even when the context is unreliable minotaur-based cat rumors.

Question of the day then! What interesting decision has your character made most recently? Were they obliged to take a best guess, or did they have access to unimpeachable intel? Tell us all about your own characterful choices 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!


THIS COMIC SUCKS! IT NEEDS MORE [INSERT OPINION HERE] Is your favorite class missing from the Handbook of Heroes? Maybe you want to see more dragonborn or aarakocra? Then check out the “Quest Giver” reward level over on the The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. You’ll become part of the monthly vote to see which elements get featured in the comic next!