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Godie1803
2015-01-15, 07:29 AM
Hi guys, I wanted to start a thread to see if you have any memorable story involving a critical failure, it can be a funny, frustrating or just plain dammit, whatever you got.

So here's mine, I was the DM on this AD&D 2ed campaign and the party, consisting of a dwarf fighter, a human ranger and an elf thief ended up fighting some jackalweres. At one point in the combat both the ranger and the thief decided to fire upon the jackalwere that the dwarf was fighting (I know, rule N 1, NEVER fire into melee, specially if you are not so lucky with the dices).

As it was expected rolls were made and rolls were failed, but little did our fighter know that both his teammates would roll a 1. When the brave fighter felt the arrows in his back he turned around just to see his teammates hiding their bows behind their backs and pointing at each other.

During the whole encounter the fighter was hit only twice... one of them was a critical hit... from the thief.

Amphetryon
2015-01-15, 07:53 AM
An old friend of mine had consecutive critical failures on STR checks to break a half-rotted wooden bar that was in our path in a 3.5 campaign, while playing a Half-Orc Barbarian. The DM inserted a metal rod into the middle of the wooden bar after the fact, just to let the fierce Barbarian save a little face.

Segev
2015-01-15, 08:54 AM
The DM inserted a metal rod into the middle of the wooden bar after the fact, just to let the fierce Barbarian save a little face.

Honestly, I have lately been more and more fond of this kind of "retcon"-related explanation for heroes' failures. Something about the situation turns out to have been a lot harder than it should have been, and their failure reveals this.

This is in line with the idea that even failure should advance interesting occurrences. It also avoids silly situations like, well, the 24 str orc barbarian being unable to bust through a wet paper wall.

ellindsey
2015-01-15, 09:48 AM
I don't use critical failures, except when it's really funny, appropriate, and causes no lasting harm.

In my current Pathfinder game, the gnomish Cleric decided that she wanted to memorize Shield Other to cast on the Monk/Sorcerer who kept getting nearly killed in combat. Looking at the spell requirements, I tell her that she needs to buy a pair of platinum rings that they each wear. She does so, and then goes to the Monk/Sorcerer to tell him that he needs to wear one of them from now on. The Cleric in-character tends to babble and explain things in an inarticulate, convoluted way, so she was going on about rings and a magic ceremony that would bind them together.

The Monk/Sorcerer is not understanding what she's talking about, so I ask him to make a Spellcraft roll to see if he recognizes the spell. He rolls a 1. I think for a moment, and then tell him, "You're not sure, but you think she just proposed marriage to you."

The misunderstanding was cleared up fairly quickly, but it's made for a hilarious running joke in the campaign.

Beta Centauri
2015-01-15, 10:26 AM
I hate mandated critical failures. The characters aren't incompetent.

That said, I take a roll of natural 1 as an incentive to get more descriptive.

My gnome warlock teleported to get line-of-sight on a target, and cast an Eldritch Blast. Natural 1. I described it as his timing for this precise arcane maneuver being slightly off, and the blast firing before the teleport was complete, causing the energy to fly off at a right angle to reality.

We moved on. Later, someone else rolled a natural 1, and I jumped in to say that their attack had been spoiled by a blast of energy flying past their head... my warlock's spell, re-entering reality.

Relatively little in the way incompetence or lasting effects, just a cool mental image.

Esprit15
2015-01-15, 02:24 PM
Critical Failure is normally a joke at my table. There's been a random rock that has followed us through two different campaigns right now, across two different continents. Almost all failures reference the mighty little rock and the bad luck that follows those who get near it.

There was one failed gather information that ended up having one of the best undead hunting Paladins chasing our vampire party for the better part of 4 or so sessions.

Mr.Moron
2015-01-15, 02:33 PM
I think most of the critical failure stories for more group are more tragic than funny. That's usually because I tend to introduce them mostly when there is some chance of things going horribly wrong.

I also tend to do them mostly on threshold levels below success, rather than simply minimum die result.

For example when I'm running a game most checks will just be pass fail. If it's something super tricky like say, removing an monstrous parasite from someone's spinal cord it might be:

"Make a medicine check. On 16 you remove it. On 14 you remove it, but the patient winds up paralyzed. On 12 or lower or on a minimum die result the patient dies".

Actually, that's how one of my PCs wound up killing a bunch people on a string of bad rolls, but to be fair it would have eaten them from the inside out if he hadn't tried.

Arbane
2015-01-15, 02:45 PM
The one truly awesome critical failure story I've heard: Sameo (http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Sameo).

jaydubs
2015-01-15, 03:11 PM
I hate mandated critical failures. The characters aren't incompetent.

That said, I take a roll of natural 1 as an incentive to get more descriptive.

My gnome warlock teleported to get line-of-sight on a target, and cast an Eldritch Blast. Natural 1. I described it as his timing for this precise arcane maneuver being slightly off, and the blast firing before the teleport was complete, causing the energy to fly off at a right angle to reality.

We moved on. Later, someone else rolled a natural 1, and I jumped in to say that their attack had been spoiled by a blast of energy flying past their head... my warlock's spell, re-entering reality.

Relatively little in the way incompetence or lasting effects, just a cool mental image.

I really, really like this. I'm going to try to incorporate it into my DMing from now on, though I doubt anything as elegant as an eldritch blast re-entering real space is going to come up.

Beta Centauri
2015-01-15, 03:19 PM
I really, really like this. I'm going to try to incorporate it into my DMing from now on, though I doubt anything as elegant as an eldritch blast re-entering real space is going to come up. Thanks, and yeah, you just have to do your best when the opportunity arises. Listen, remember, and reincorporate. The blast misfiring into "subspace" was a throwaway. I just lucked out that I got to reuse it.

It's not like one can't add a cool description to every event in combat, of course. 1s and 20s just seem to deserve a bit more effort.

DigoDragon
2015-01-15, 03:27 PM
D&D: Final boss fight against an ancient red wyrm dragon. The Rogue/Paladin with the intelligent (and nagging) Holy Avenger managed to roll a 1 eight times in a row. Ended up breaking the weapon. No big loss according to the party. Including the Rogue/Paladin. :smalltongue:


Shadowrun: The runner team infiltrated a very posh office party with the mission to steal some data from the CEO's office computer. The party was on the 86th floor, so two of the PCs had the 'brilliant' idea of base-jumping out a window when they got the data. Data was acquired, but a silent alarm was triggered. Hacker and mage ran for the stairs and managed to elude security. The two team base jumpers go out the window with their chutes.

By the way, neither had a skill in base jumping. Oops.

The elf sniper managed (barely) to not kill herself on the landing (thank the shadows for EDGE dice). The street sam spectacularly botched his roll (all 1s). Now, the team figured that this PC was now street pizza after an 86-floor drop into concrete, right? Nah, the GM is crueler than that. The cute tangled upon opening and the street sam hit a water fountain in the front courtyard of the building. Lost 90% of his hit points, function if his cyber right-arm, oh and the fountain was polluted with saltwater-- for which the street sam has an extreme allergy to. :smallbiggrin:

gom jabbarwocky
2015-01-15, 04:49 PM
I think I've shared this one before, but it was old WoD Mage, one of the characters was built like a grizzly bear and dumber than a sack of d10s. He had Strength as a legendary attribute, and elected to make it so that he could deal lethal damage with unarmed attacks.

At one point, the party was attacked by a giant mutant dog which managed to bite onto his arm, just latched right onto it and wouldn't let go. So, he decides he's going to punch it in the head, and use Forces magic to make it a super punch! Does great on his Arete roll, getting a bunch of extra dice to his damage - unfortunately, he botches his subsequent attack roll.

As a result, he managed to punch his own arm clean off his torso. The dog ran away, arm still in its mouth, and the party had to split up, half staying behind to stabilize the big dope, the other to chase after the dog and try to save the arm so they could re-attach it.

The Grue
2015-01-15, 05:45 PM
Another player in a Traveller game once attempted to fire a warning shot just past some thug's head. He rolled nat 1's. The GM laughed and had him roll again as an actual attack. He scored an excellent success and blew the thug's head clean off.

Segev
2015-01-15, 06:12 PM
Another player in a Traveller game once attempted to fire a warning shot just past some thug's head. He rolled nat 1's. The GM laughed and had him roll again as an actual attack. He scored an excellent success and blew the thug's head clean off.

"Let that be a warning to the rest of you!"

DeadLands Dev
2015-01-15, 08:33 PM
Hello, I'm a bit of lurker by nature and I've never posted an anecdote like this here, but here goes. *A-hemhem*

I run an old WoD mashup set in the world of True Blood. It's basically an excuse for my old roleplaying friends to take a break from grimdark scenarios run by people who take their gaming seriously and play those things they always wanted to but couldn't because a proper GM would deem it too silly. One of the characters is a Ceilican. For those who had better things to do with their youth than discover obscure kinds of shapeshifters in old Werewolf: the Apocalypse splatbooks, a Ceilican is a Scottish wildcat shifter.
It's been in the news lately that the Scottish wildcat is in serious danger of extinction through, in part, interbreeding with house cats and so (I said it was a silly game) the player in question drew up a were-housecat; a big, black, long-haired, maine-coone-looking animal who found in his adolescence that he had the ability to change into a human being. He's extremely beautiful and very athletic (allowing him to parkour about the city like mad), but has the intelligence of a concussed rabbit, the attention span of a gnat and the flaw "Overconfident". His name is Fluffy. Fluffy Seagull-slayer.

Fluffy and Oswald (a lupus Silent Strider) were on the tail of a mysterious entity which was possessing people and leading them into situations where they were likely to die. Their inquiries led them to a council flat on the 9th floor of a tower block, where they discovered a paraplegic war veteran who'd learnt how to project his spirit from his body, Orpheus style, and was undertaking a roaring rampage of revenge. Tipped off by his carer that a pair of suspicious characters with very odd social skills were sitting in his living room asking strange questions, the vet decided to effect an escape by projecting and taking over one of a group of scratty teenagers who were hanging around in the car park outside the block. We have a house rule that cats can perceive ghosts and other wiggy things given a successful perception roll so Fluffy rolled, passed, spotted the shade of the vet passing the window and rushed out onto the balcony in time to witness the possession of the hapless teenager.

"I shout 'There it goes!' and jump off the balcony after it!" said Fluffy's player. It's his first time roleplaying and as you can see, he's taken to it like a duck to water.

I did remind him he was 9 stories up, but he maintained that if he shifted to Crinos (Fluffy treated the Litany as a collection of polite suggestions, and treated polite suggestions in general as you might expect of a cat) he could make the tallest of the trees growing in the car park. He was rolling fistfuls of dice for dex/athletics when in Crinos and he had that Daredevil merit which lowers your difficulty for pulling awesome but fundamentally unwise stunts, so I said he could go for it. He botched spectacularly, and the resulting spring from the balcony is best illustrated with this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3tI2UZvIGk

Except picture, instead of a slightly tubby siamese, a 6 foot tall, fluffy-coated, half-man half-cat in flared jeans.

He landed in a Wile E. Coyote sort of way right in front of the teenagers. He was badly injured but not so much as to render him unconscious, which would have resulted in his returning to his breed form, and so these poor wee neds were confronted with a full-on Crinos form werecreature. I rolled for them on the Delirium table and ~ the icing on the cake ~ they all rolled 10s and instead of going berserk with fear, fleeing or collapsing into a fetal position they stared at Fluffy for a moment of surprise, then whipped out their phones and started taking pics and filming. The possessed one got away.

Keledrath
2015-01-15, 09:45 PM
My group runs crit fails as provoking Attacks of Opportunity.

We have the boss enemy surrounded. Our Sorcerer (who sometimes does stupid things) runs in to try and get the last hit with his dagger, since the boss went after him in the initiative order. Crit fail. Boss swings to plaster him across the wall.

The Boss crit fails. We all get a free hit against the boss. We make him go boom. If he hadn't crit failed, he might have killed 2 of us (someone else was low)

Hollow_Mask
2015-01-16, 02:36 AM
These are what spring to mind when it comes to speaking about my own recent critical failures...


My Gnoll Monk bit off part of his own tongue (Critical failure on a bite attack)
He also spoke with a lisp until we could find someone willing enough to stick their hand in his mouth to cast regenerate on the wound (Critical failure on Heal Check)
My Kobold Bard Introduced the party, to the local Dragon, as Village Idiots for the local village instead of Negotiators for the local village (Critical failure on a linguistics check)
The same Bard tried to pet a Dire Wolf mistaking it for a friendly dog (Critical failure on Knowledge Nature & Sense Motive Checks)
My Tengu Scout//Barbarian gestalt swapped a bag of gems for an idol of equal weight instead of a bag of sand of equal weight (Critical failure on a Sleight of hand check and the following wisdom check to realize the mistake)
My Halfling Fighter was eaten by snake (Critical failure on a reflex save)
And also killed by the other PCs when they killed the snake (Critical failure on a reflex save)

My Grippli Vivisectionist dosed the villain with a potent love potion instead of a poison (Critical failure to draw the potion from his cloak of holding during the encounter)
My Hobgoblin Staff Magus walked into the edge of a door (Critical failure on a perception check)
My Gnome Barbarian drank from a chamber-pot (Critical failure on Knowledge:Local Check)
My Human Wizard got a paper cut from his own spellbook (Critical failure on writing a spell into his spellbook)

goto124
2015-01-16, 03:10 AM
My Grippli Vivisectionist dosed the villain with a potent love potion instead of a poison (Critical failure to draw the potion from his cloak of holding during the encounter)


I wish to know what happened afterwards.

golentan
2015-01-16, 03:41 AM
A friend rolled 3 natural 1s in succession on a gather information check about the port he was in. We decided he had bought a newspaper, and the paper underwent spontaneous combustion.

Peebles
2015-01-16, 05:19 AM
I think my normal gaming group is made up of the worst dice rollers ever, for the most part. So much so that we have a stock response to any roll of 1, or as we call it, rolling a squirrel.

Roll a 1 whilst shooting and arrow or casting a spell? The spell hits a squirrel, no matter where the combat is taking place, and somehow causes us added strife. A melee weapon will slip out of our hands and knock a squirrel out of a tree. Search or Perception check of 1? Get distracted by a squirrel. It's pretty much the one running joke we have.

Godie1803
2015-01-16, 06:02 AM
D&D: Final boss fight against an ancient red wyrm dragon. The Rogue/Paladin with the intelligent (and nagging) Holy Avenger managed to roll a 1 eight times in a row. Ended up breaking the weapon. No big loss according to the party. Including the Rogue/Paladin. :smalltongue:

Wow, seriously? 8 times in a row? Damn and here I thought my party rolled poorly :smalltongue:

Seto
2015-01-16, 06:40 AM
Our Bard had died in that encounter. The enemy was standing over his body and preparing to attack the rest of us. Then he rolls a 1. What's the failure gonna be ? Second 1 in a row. (odds of that happening were 1/400). Our DM had a fumble table, on which he read "Double 1 : a failure so epic the bards will sing of it for centuries". He hesitated, then was like "oh, hell, let's make this literal". As the enemy held his sword high, lightning struck it. He fell and stuck his sword in our Bard's body, who proceeded to be reanimated by the electricity in a Frankenstein-like way, and brought back to 0HP. The enemy was dead.

Svata
2015-01-16, 08:44 AM
Just day before yesterday, in a 5e game at my local comics shop, we're running through the Hoard of the Dragon Queen,

(this time, we just got a new guy, and lost two players in the past few weeks before) is a human Sorcerer, a human (I think, never bothered to check) War Cleric with a 20 AC (22, on this occasion, because shield of faith), a halfling rogue (assassin track), a human rogue (assassin track as well), a high elf rogue (Arcane Trickster, my character), human Barbarian/Druid who is almost always in bear form, a human fighter (unsure of track/archetype/whatever its called now), a gnome beastmaster ranger, and the new guy, a dragonborn ranger. (Focusing on bows. Yeah, its his first character...)

We are fighting through the castle courtyard of whatever its called, our bearbearian, as we call him has charged in and gotten absolutely surrounded by enemies, with the halfling riding on his back. He has absolutely no armor class, and he's just barely still a bear. Our human rogue tries to help out, shooting at one of the enemies surrounding him, probably a lizardman (they're weak, but there were about half a dozen of them, and a dozen bullywogs), rolls a one, and shoots him in the ass with his longbow. With 3d6 of sneak attack. Needless to say, this takes him out of bear form. In fact, it nearly kills him, and dumps the halfling on the ground, prone, in a situation where standing up will provoke an AoO. Luckily we managed to save them from dying.

Khedrac
2015-01-16, 10:54 AM
I have probably told this one before but...

I have a (3.5) DM who liked critical fumble tables. The ones he normally uses are not too bad, but best for rogues as they are usually Balance checks to avoid the affect.
Anyway, one time we had made our way through the dungeon to the dungeon's Big Bad - a Death Knight with a load of feats specializing in two-weapon fighting, and (I think) so pretty nasty abilities they were too.

Round 1 - the DK fumbled with the result "throw wielded weapon away". I dropped a Black Tentacles on the weapon and the fight became ludicrously easy, the DK not having had the feats to be any use with just one weapon...
Not the first time the dice have reduced that DM nearly to tears.

Come to think of it, there's another one - we finally had met the Big Bad - a Demon/Demigod who was flying above the ship we were one.
Round 1 - it flew over and grabbed a couple of sailors (just to demonstrate how dangerous the fight would be) - it didn't kill them yet though.
My character (same mage) casts and spell and somehow gets through it's SR (or it might not have had any). I say to the DM "please roll a natural one"! knowing full well it would save on a '2'.
The DM's response "what happens on a natural one?" - he'd just failed it's save versus Baelful Polymorph (dove)...

Overall I'd say that the DM has rolled far more fumbles than the party, yet he still insists on using the fumble tables...

hifidelity2
2015-01-16, 11:13 AM
In RuneQuest you have critical failure tables. Remember once playing and we had fought off the rubble runners (a low level monster for low level parties) and one was running away. I said I would shot it with my bow, fumbled, roll to hit nearest friend, criticaled the to hit roll and almost killed him

Malimar
2015-01-16, 01:53 PM
So there was this gargantuan shark. This was one of the first games I ran, so I didn't have a good sense for CRs, and this creature was much too powerful for the party. It could have 1-shot any of the PCs if it got a solid attack in.

Luckily, attempting to bite a PC, it rolled a 1. Then it rolled a 1 to confirm its critical fumble.

In short, the gargantuan shark chewed itself to death in its frenzy to eat the PCs.

Jay R
2015-01-16, 09:10 PM
I was running a game of Flashing Blades (musketeer era France). A young soldier character was in the process of learning Etiquette skill, but hadn't learned it yet. I had warned him that if he tried to use it, he would have massive penalties.

The party went to a hunting party with the cream of French Society in attendance. He saw a beautiful noble lady - the daughter of a duke. He decided he had to meet her. So he bulled his way past several young nobles and told me he introduced himself to her and attempted to use his Etiquette skill.

He rolled a 1.

So - a critical fumble on a cross-class skill he doesn't really have, in an extremely delicate situation, in direct competition with many men who really did have the skill, measured by a woman who is a master of the skill. How do I handle this?

I thought for a moment, and send, "She extends her hand to you. You take it, raise it delicately to your lips, gaze soulfully into her eyes, gently kiss her hand, and f@rt."

Hollow_Mask
2015-01-16, 11:12 PM
I wish to know what happened afterwards.The Villain fixated on my character and tried to grapple her but took the brunt of Emerald's toxic skin (Emerald is my Character's name) and then managed to make the save against the potion. She was thrown at her own team mate, A Samsaran Barbarian named Dakash, as a ranged trip attack with an improvised weapon which only succeeded because of a critical hit. The Villain finally got the chance to finish what they started and set fire to the building before escaping in the ensuing fire and smoke despite catching on fire midway through the escape without being bothering by it.

Erik Vale
2015-01-17, 12:21 AM
We were attacked by three ambushing gargoyles, our fighter surrounded by all sides, we had no clue as they dived from the roof.
One slammed into the ground, the other missed and hit his other friend, and the last one missed...


'You call that an ambush!'

Inevitability
2015-01-17, 04:01 AM
The players confronted a BBEG who had taken some people hostage. I described the hostages as being practically right next to him. For a little while, there is some parley, when the paladin suddenly says:

'I shoot the BBEG.'

Paladin rolls an 1 and promptly declares he must have shot a hostage. I am dumbfounded for a moment, but then declare that, indeed, the hostage slumps over with an arrow out of his chest. The paladin proceeded to have a moral crisis.