Dungeons and Dragons, is first and foremost, a collaborative storytelling game. Sure, there might be lots of numbers and mechanics to support these stories. Without those, there’s a whole lot of chaos. At the end of the day, though, all of the rules can be blurred or broken.
That’s why the Dungeon Master is always looked upon as a supreme being of grand benevolence. It’s also why there’s one rule that has withstood the test of time: The Rule… of Cool.
It’s one of the first things you often get told when you ask a seasoned storyteller for DnD for advice. The Rule of Cool is simple, really. If it’s cool? Why not let it play out? Of course, cool is subjective.
Here’s the deal: You’re playing with friends. You want your friends to all feel like they are the most amazing people. (Spoiler: They are.) So the Rule of Cool can be used as a fantastic reward to those wonderful players.
My favorite rule of cool I’d been part of was when an Orc fighter, Human Druid, an Elven Cleric, and a Gnome Barbarian were in dire straits. They’d been a Big Bad Evil Wizard for an hour - and had nearly taken them down. Right as they were going to strike the final blow, the wizard had opened a magical portal (Dimension Door) towards their friend and compatriot, the Elven Cleric.
He’d knocked them unconcious with a magic weapon attack, and the cleric was barely holding onto their mortal coil. None of the three had enough time to get over the difficult terrain to the Big Bad to save their friend. A friend that they’d gotten close with over months. Someone they cared about. In less than 6 seconds they knew it would be the end.
Except… what if… So the Orc player stared straight at our DM and declared their next action. “I’m going to do a fastball special.” They were declaring that they’d PICK UP the Gnome and throw them as hard as they could at the Big Bad.
The DM’s eyebrow raised as they opened up their rulebook, looked a bit, and closed it. We all knew there was nothing in there about this. It’s just not part of the rules. We all knew what the answer would be. “I don’t think you can throw them quite that far. That’s 90 feet.” We were all a little slack jawed. Our DM had always followed the rules to a T… up until now.
Our druid’s eyes light up. “GUST OF WIND! I HAVE A TURN. GUST OF WIND.”
With a bit of contemplation, the DM sighed. “Alright.” Pointing at the Orc, “You roll strength.” Pointing at the Druid, “You roll wisdom”. Pointing at the Gnome, “You roll for an attack.”
Strength, 19, plus 4. “You see her muscles ripple, and our Gnomish friend feels like there is an incredibly springboard under his feet. Before he has even a moment to think through how awful this plan is, he’s rocketed into the air.”
Wisdom, 16, plus 3. “Druidic energy starts to emenate visibly from the staff, and all of you can hear a howling of wind through the trees picking up. While soaring through the air, the Gnome accelerates even faster - the wind screaming by their ears.”
Attack roll, natural 20. The gnome barbarian stares at the die, worried that it might change if they don’t keep a close eye on it. “The wizard’s eyes go wide, as he starts to utter an incantation - but not fast enough. You feel a CRUNCH as you slam into his chest, axes flying from a mix of momentum and your rage. Your vision is blood red. You can hear your own pulse pounding in your ears. Uhh.. you have brutal critical, don’t you. He’s only got..”
The DM looked up quietly from behind their cardboard DM screen, they stole Matt Mercer’s line, with a giant grin growing across their face. “How do you want to do this?” We broke a lot of rules - but we all felt like heroes.