The Rule of Cool | Episode 2




Gorrick had been tracking the ogres that ransacked his home for two days and now, as he hides above the woodland trail, he watches as a small patrol of ogres approach his position. As they come into range he unleashes a terrifying battle cry, consumed with rage. Readying his Great sword; He gives a running leap and clears the 20 feet between where he had been and where the ogres are. Soaring through the air he raises his mighty weapon over his head bringing it down hard into the skull of one of the ogres. Before the others have a chance to even react, the great sword has dislodged from the limp creature and slashed into the midriff of another ogre. That was badass! Let's talk about it and how you can enable your players to also be badass!


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Hey everybody! I’m Justin and thank you for joining me for another reading from the Tome of Dungeoneering. In this episode, I want to give a bit of a personal philosophy that any player or Dungeon Master can adopt to make their time spent playing, well, any TTRPG more Badass. To me, badassery is a measurement of fun. It’s the heroics and successes that separate us from reality. There are ways that you as a DM can enable Badass storytelling at every type of play from roleplay to puzzle solving and every interaction in between. So what is Badassery?

The philosophy

Badassery is my own personal outlook on the rule of cool. Ah yes, The bane of rules lawyers everywhere. It involves skipping dice rolls and finding out what is fun for your table and bending (or breaking) the rules in service to that fun. So what does the rule of cool look like?


Remember Gorrick? He gives a running leap and clears the 20 foot distance separating him from the ogres. Jumping is an interesting section of rules. In fact, it’s specifically highlighted as a guideline. Jumping a distance does not require a skill check but I see it called for all the time.


Following the Rule of Cool, I would not call for a roll on this jump. The Barbarian is out for revenge, this is that character’s moment...that player's moment. As the DM, I already know that he is strong. I already know that he is fueled with rage. There is nothing to be gained from calling for a roll here except for meaningless misfortune. Sure the table may laugh at the antics of the barbarian falling face first into the dirt, but what about that player? Countless sessions... leading to this moment and all he is left with is a mouthful of dirt for no good reason. So say it with me: THIS IS GORRICK’S MOMENT; LET HIM BE BADASS!.


This isn’t the party wizard, It’s the fucken{beep} frenzy barbarian. He was made for this moment. It’s his. If it were the wizard with a greatsword the plan would be totally out of character. If that were the case, I’d call for rolls.


In our first episode we promised to be more than just a reading of rules. Baddassery is one of the ways we hope to accomplish that, by cultivating for you, ideas that can be dropped into your own homebrewed world and add something hopefully awesome for your players to experience. So, let's break it down. How can you apply this philosophy of Badassery to your own ideas? How can you be a part of your table embracing the rule of cool?

How can I be badass?

As a Dungeon Master, it is my philosophy to focus on what the players want to do, not on individual rules. I tell my players: I want you to weave a story with me. I want you to help create a moment that you, and I, and the rest of the table will remember forever. Most people don’t remember the time it took two hours of back and forth to iron out whether or not they were allowed to do something based on the rules (at least, not usually in a positive light). They DO remember the time the Sorcerer wanted to use his last sorcery points to cast a twinned spell when the party was clearly outnumbered. Or the time the half-orc leaped from an airship because deliberations were taking too long. Or the time their werewolf ally, in full lupin form, ran at max speed until taking almost max exhaustion trying to follow the misty escape of a vampire back to its lair.


I also try to encourage my players, “When possible, use creative language to explain your actions as opposed to mechanical language. Tell the DM what you are doing. Don’t ask the DM if you can climb that tree. Tell us or even better paint us a picture. I survey the field and see the two hellhounds bounding towards me. I run to the nearest tree and scramble up to the first branch that will hold me. Turning back my pursuers I release two arrows.”


And Dungeon Masters, this is your chance to encourage your players and foster this kind of fun at the table. When my players participate in the joint narrative my first response is: “Badass! hell yeah you can do that “. Some of this will come with experience and practice but you don’t need to stop that player to check their movement speed. Who cares if they have 30 feet of movement and the branch they want to get to would require 35. It’s five heckin 'feet; adrenaline easily accounts for the variance.


So how else can you apply the Rule of Cool? I like to look at character traits or class traits for inspiration. Does a rogue that has spent an entire campaign picking locks really need to roll for every basic lock still? Your party gets in rowdy trouble in nearly every town they pass through. Does the face of the party still need to make a charisma based check to talk down the local night guards? Does a monk that likes to run on walls and do flips still need to succeed on a roll to do dope monk shit? The answer to all of these is maybe? Consider level and speciality, consider story and narrative and make the best call for your table, The best call for the most fun, or put simply the call that is most BADASS.


Now … we are basically done but I want to really drive this home I’ll leave you with a quote from the lead game designer of Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, Jeremy Crawford:


Do you...“Like a version of D&D that’s highly tactical and by-the-book?


Do you…“Like improv with only a smattering of rules?


Do you…”Like something else?


Find your favorite way to play D&D, and use the rules in service to it. ”



Thank you all so very much for joining me today for yet another entry in the Tome of Dungeoneering. I hope that you are able to take some part of this philosophy back to your table and use it to create your own badass moments! Reach out to us; we want to hear from you. @ us on twitter and tell us about a time that was particularly memorable at your table.


Official Site: www.TheTODPOD.com

Blog: https://www.inthedungeon.com/blog


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