RPG Museum

How To Use The Rule Of Cool in Dungeons & Dragons 5e

A YouTube video by the Dungeon Dudes about using the first interpretation of the rule of cool in Dungeon & Dragons 5th edition.

The rule of cool is a principle that says "The limit of a group's willing suspension of disbelief for any given element in a story is directly proportional to its awesomeness."[1] In the context of role-playing games, this is translated into two concepts:

  1. Player characters should be allowed to attempt especially cool actions generally not allowed by the rules of a game. In such cases, the GM or group collectively may need to make rulings on how such an action should be adjudicated.
  2. Groups can use judgemental resolution to rule that especially cool actions succeed even if their game usually requires a form of random resolution (e.g. rolling dice). This is related to the concept that success and failure should both be interesting, in that failure is not considered interesting if the alternative is sufficiently awesome.

The rule of cool is rarely part of any official game rules, but can be adopted in the system agreed among specific groups through their social contract.

The rule of cool can be applied in different ways and to different extents by different groups and GMs. In long-running campaigns, the rule of cool is more likely to be restricted to specific moments of high tension and drama, and may be disallowed in cases that would set balance-disrupting precedents or grant one player too much spotlight. It is most appropriate in one-off situations and when using facts established about the game world that were not expected to be relevant (e.g. environmental details).


  1. "Rule of Cool". TVTropes.org. Retrieved 2020-09-04.