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Socks
2015-08-29, 06:35 PM
Hello community. I've been playing D&D for a little while and I was wondering how you treat your players when they roll a 1. Also known as a Critical Failure? An example is when I DM and two players are right next to each other and one rolls a 1, I make them hit the other player or come up with an elaborate way of them hurting them self. So what do you guys do when someone rolls a 1?

Red Fel
2015-08-29, 06:50 PM
Hello community. I've been playing D&D for a little while and I was wondering how you treat your players when they roll a 1. Also known as a Critical Failure? An example is when I DM and two players are right next to each other and one rolls a 1, I make them hit the other player or come up with an elaborate way of them hurting them self. So what do you guys do when someone rolls a 1?

Generally? I tell them they failed at what it was they were trying to do.

I'm not fond of critical failures. Particularly for two reasons. First, critical fumble rules penalize melees, who make rolls which could critically fail, over casters, who don't. Casters don't need another advantage over melees. Second, consider this. A higher-level melee makes more attacks per round than a lower-level one, which means more chances to critically fail. The idea that a trained combatant, who has become a peerless exemplar of the art of warfare, should be more likely to do something horrifically bad than an untrained novice, is incredibly absurd.

So when one of my players rolls a one? "Nope, that's a fail. Next?"

TheCountAlucard
2015-08-29, 08:53 PM
First off, it depends on the game. In more than a few games, 1s showing up on the dice aren't auto-failures.

For instance, D&D 3.5e. If you roll a 1 on an attack roll or save, you miss or fail the saving throw, but nothing worse happens; however, if you roll a 1 on a skill check or ability check, you still apply the results, and if your modifier's high enough, you may even succeed; likewise, a damage roll turning up a 1 just means you didn't damage the other guy very much.

In Shadowrun, varying by edition, 1s on rolls would often contribute to whether or not you "glitched," (also not an auto-failure, but rather "an interesting twist occurs") and a catastrophic failure ("critical glitch") would only occur if you also didn't get any fives or sixes on the d6s.

Some versions of various White Wolf games had 1s subtract from your successes, so enough of them could force you to fail; in other versions, you just noted your 1s on the roll, and something bad only happened if you didn't get any successes on the d10s ("botch").

And so on.

Second: Me, I'm against throwing in critical failure rules for systems that lack them. In 3.5 D&D, it's generally bad enough just to fail a roll - you don't have to go accidentally decapitating yourself for it to suck, it just cuts heavily into verisimilitude ("How did anyone get to fifth level with these fumble rules, let alone this fighter?")

Malfarian
2015-08-29, 08:58 PM
One of the reasons I quit playing D&D was the ALWAYS 5% fail chance. If I were to play again, I'd have players confirm it, or similar. If you roll a 1, roll again, if you get 5 or less, it's critical, then you're looking at 5% on any roll is a 1 and 25% of rerolls are crit fails, so in total you've got about 1.25% chance of critical failure per roll, much better in my mind.

Shackel
2015-08-29, 09:12 PM
If it's melee, you take an AoO. Ranged kind of varies; usually the next attack is lost. If it's a spell, it promptly backfires or is reflected. This is, of course, only done on a "successful" confirm of a miss. I believe this keeps the IC reasoning closer to "the enemy is competent" or the wild nature of magic rather than "this level 20 god of combat just tripped and fell on his sword".

Hawkstar
2015-08-29, 09:13 PM
For me... In D&D, attack rolls and the routine checks never carry critical failure chances - You're making way too many in a session/campaign to have anything significant tied to them, and failing to hit is generally bad enough. Now... for rare/long shot/I have no idea what I'm doing rolls, a critical failure will generally be a "Gone Hilariously Wrong/Right" result.

In D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder, if I do go for critical failures on attack (I don't), I'd never give them an effect exceeding an additional lost attack or recieving an attack or maneuver against themselves - for example, they might provoke an AoO/trip/disarm/bull rush/etc (The enemy still has to confirm it).

Broken Crown
2015-08-29, 09:35 PM
Personally, I generally just treat a 1 as a miss. PCs are assumed to be somewhat competent; it's annoying enough to fail at a routine task, like attacking an opponent, without adding on some extra humiliation.

However, though I forget where I read it (it may have been on this very forum), there was one set of house rules regarding critical fumbles which struck me as particularly good:

"Any proposed critical fumble rules shall be submitted to the following test:

- Ten average, 1st-level Warriors (with longswords) shall attack ten ordinary straw dummies (AC 5) for a period of two minutes (twenty rounds).

- If, at the conclusion of that period, any of the warriors are dead or dying, the DM shall be required to tear up his critical fumble rules and eat them."

goto124
2015-08-29, 10:57 PM
Now... for rare/long shot/I have no idea what I'm doing rolls, a critical failure will generally be a "Gone Hilariously Wrong/Right" result.

I wouldn't make nat 1s result in self-decapitations, but I'll describe how hilariously bad the PC had managed to fail to do a task that's otherwise simple. Small amounts of the surrounding may be damaged- not the 'your Fireball hits a wall of gunpowder and blows everything up', more of a fluffy flavor thing.

Draconium
2015-08-29, 11:05 PM
I wouldn't make nat 1s result in self-decapitations, but I'll describe how hilariously bad the PC had managed to fail to do a task that's otherwise simple. Small amounts of the surrounding may be damaged- not the 'your Fireball hits a wall of gunpowder and blows everything up', more of a fluffy flavor thing.

"As you swing your greatsword, aiming to slice open the hulking troll, you suddenly trip over a small pebble. You manage to catch yourself before you fall prone, but you can hear the troll howling with laughter at you ineptitude. You feel your face burning with embarrassment as you pick yourself up, brushing the dust off as you resume your combat sense, hoping no one will remember that incident."

On a more serious note, while it is rather entertaining to see what can come as a result of a natural 1, it's probably not a good idea to have it be possibly self-harming, or overly detrimental to your allies. With the rare, light hearted exception (such as above), I think it's generally a better idea to treat it as a simple miss, rather than a full-on fumble.

Chijinda
2015-08-29, 11:19 PM
A habit I've picked up from my GM is that rolling a natural 20 adds a little extra "bonus" onto what you were doing (unless you were literally incapable of achieving success with anything less), while a natural 1 adds an extra little bad touch, due not to ineptitude but sheer bad luck.

Eg. From one of our Dark Heresy sessions during a combat inside a cramped hallway:

Me: *rolls a 100* (the dark heresy equivalent of a natural 1)

GM: "As you swing at your enemy, your blade catches on a low hanging pipe and becomes stuck. Your attack fails and on your next turn you must take a full action to free it."

----

Or it can be something minor.

PC: *rolls a 100 on a Perception test*

GM: "A powerful explosion in the distance rocks the ground beneath you. You stumble face first into the Guardswoman's cleavage. It's extremely awkward, and this takes your full attention away from your surroundings."


(Yes, both of the above happened)

goto124
2015-08-30, 12:00 AM
You mean, Guardswoman :smalltongue:

To be fair, 1/100 chance of critical failure is a fifth of a 1/20 chance of critical failure.

There's another possibility: allow for additional rolls. When someone rolls a nat 1 (on a d20), that person rolls the die another time, for the PC to save herself from the epic fail. Like how tripping on a pebble can be saved by 'you manage to grab onto a nearby pole, preventing yourself from getting prone'. Or




While Supply was having a very involved conversation with Greendream, Doc was trying his best to administer some aid to her leg. At least the guest rooms were clean and usable.

Medicine: (1d100)[96] out of 50

Not that it meant much to the uncaring universe...


Doc nicked a vein.

Possibly the vein, if the amount of blood that was now leaking on to the floor was any indication. Supply Route would feel a dull achy sensation, while the doctor would get a good spurt of blood in his face.

[Roll 1d10 for Bleed damage, Forum Explorer]


"Ack! I'm sorry! I thought I could do more and I just wanted to impr- Guh, I don't know!!" Doc went into panic mode trying to undo the damage he just did. Egads why couldn't he just do something so simply as apply disinfectant? He wasn't usually much for prayer, but today might be a good day to start.

Medicine (Again, for the love of Luna's left hoof!)
(1d100)[75] out of 50


Doc nodded and bit his lip. He pulled a potion close by in case it came to that. The stallion took in a deep slow breath and concentrated.

Medicine: (1d100)[22] out of 50


The doctor's steady hooves and applied knowledge managed to curb the bleeding, mostly anyway, but this was still going to need some serious care.

TheOOB
2015-08-30, 01:02 AM
I generally don't like most critical failure systems.

In D&D penalizing a character for rolling a 1(apart from having them fail the roll) is completely ridiculous. First of all, the characters are the best of the best, and the idea that there is a 5% chance of them performing a dangerous blunder on an action them are trained experts in strains credibility, and goes against the heroic theme of the game. Conan never drops his sword because of a bad swing, why should the fighter?

The only time I like such systems is when they are setting appropriate. In Paranoia you can critically fail pretty easy, but Paranoia is supposed to be a dark comedy where death is cheap and competence is rare. It's a setting where if you're lucky the gun you're using is more dangerous to your foe than you. In Warhammer Fanatasy Roleplay magic is supposed to be dangerous and scary, and whenever you cast a spell, no matter how good you are, there is a chance that something bad is going to happen. Heck you don't even have to fail casting the spell for it to happen.

Pex
2015-08-30, 01:06 AM
:smallsigh:

Here we go again.

If you and your playing group are having absolutely the best fun in the universe using critical failures, nothing anyone says will change your mind in using them. However, for those of us who aren't at that level of funness, critical failure ruins the game. It hurts warriors because they roll to attack more as the levels progress. It hurts spellcasters not at all because they don't roll attack rolls. They can easily choose not to cast the spells that require attack rolls that would be subject to critical failure and not suffer an iota of their power. Clerics and druids wouldn't be warrior types anymore either, but they can just summon creatures to do the fighting for them. If those creatures critically fumble, who cares they're expendable.

In addition, critical failure effects are disproportionally hurtful to the character than anything a critical hit could do. Even something simple as dropping a weapon is devastating because it means the character loses actions. He loses further attacks he could have had in the round. Cannot do opportunity attacks. Must spend next round spending a move action to pick up his weapon, provoking an AoO and only getting one attack instead of his full attack. (5E rules do remove this particular problem of losing extra attacks.) Other critical failure possibilities: provoking an AoO risks a critical hit from the enemy. Hitting an ally or yourself weakens the party. Imagine if the warrior was using Power Attack. Even Pathfinder blunders with its critical failure deck where there is a possibility of critically hitting yourself, risking death, or being dazed for a few rounds, losing your turns sitting there doing nothing.

It is irrelevant the bad guys suffer them as well. They are expected to die anyway. They are only on camera that one fight. The DM has no special attachment to them, unlike a player and his character. A PC will experience many critical failures over the course of the campaign or even an adventure arc. There are a lot more NPC bad guys overall than the PCs. Many of them will never critically fail because they aren't there that long. When the laws of averages catches up to the DM to roll a critical failure it's on NPC number twenty something who made an appearance, or it will be twenty something NPCs later before the DM gets another critical failure if it happens in the first combat.

Mutazoia
2015-08-30, 04:51 AM
I sometimes still use this from Dragon Magazine (http://annarchive.com/files/Drmg039.pdf) (page 34 on the magazine, or 36 in the PDF)

Berenger
2015-08-30, 06:30 AM
A 1 on a d20 should always indicate failure, because if there was no chance of failure, the GM should not have required the roll in the first place. Usually, a failure is bad enough without additional penalties. But if a group insists on using critical failures, there should be a confirmation roll just like with crital hits. This would make total fumbles less frequent and benefit more experienced characters (because they are less likely to not reach a target number twice in a row).

Jormengand
2015-08-30, 07:29 AM
Depends on the system. In 3.5, for example, if you roll a 1 on an attack roll, you fail, and if you roll a 1 on a skill check, you might not. In Pathfinder, you might break certain types of weapons by rolling a 1. In SIFRP, the PARAGON roleplaying system (which hasn't been released yet, but wait for it) and probably numerous others, rolling a 1 indicates that you should put more dice into that stat, and nothing else. In PARAGON, it's possible to jam a firearm or even have it explode if every single die you roll is under a certain number (allowing anyone who is actually trained in their use, and thus probably rolling at least 6 dice, to mitigate the effect massively). There are a very very few rolls where degrees of failure are counted in PARAGON, so rolling a 1 might indicate a large number of failures (but may not indicate any more even than a 6).

In Alea Iacta Est (http://www.topsecretgames.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Alea-Iacta-Est.pdf), rolling a 1 has the effect that "You fail the action utterly, and injure yourself horrifically in the process", whose result is left to the Arbiter, but this is talking about the actual result being 1, rather than a natural 1 (which would be impossible on 2d6): if you just roll double 1s and have no bonuses or penalties, "You fail the action, and probably manage to do yourself an injury, or do something antithetical to what you were trying to." Critical failure is therefore impossible for anyone with any kind of training, help, or even favourable circumstance unless there is an equal and opposite factor working against them.

DigoDragon
2015-08-30, 09:52 AM
For instance, D&D 3.5e. If you roll a 1 on an attack roll or save, you miss or fail the saving throw, but nothing worse happens;

Certain saves actually do extra things if you roll a 1. Failing a Reflex save when being hit with an area damage effect (e.g. Fireball) means some of your items need to make a save so they don't take damage as well. This rarely ever came up in my games, and the only time I remember an item failing a save it ended up to the player's advantage anyway. :smallbiggrin:

Hawkstar
2015-08-30, 10:23 AM
due not to ineptitude but sheer bad luck.

This is something that should ALWAYS be kept in mind when crit fumbling/failing. It's not incompetence, it's luck.


First of all, the characters are the best of the bestNo they're not.

It is irrelevant the bad guys suffer them as well. They are expected to die anyway. They are only on camera that one fight. The DM has no special attachment to them, unlike a player and his character. A PC will experience many critical failures over the course of the campaign or even an adventure arc. There are a lot more NPC bad guys overall than the PCs. Many of them will never critically fail because they aren't there that long. When the laws of averages catches up to the DM to roll a critical failure it's on NPC number twenty something who made an appearance, or it will be twenty something NPCs later before the DM gets another critical failure if it happens in the first combat.Actually, there's a counterpoint - PCs, while they certainly crit fumble more often than any given NPC, are much better equipped to recover from them. Collectively, NPCs crit fail more often than PCs because they tend to outnumber and out-act them during any given round. While a group of four PCs will critfail roughly once every five rounds, a band of twenty brigands will have a critfail twice every other round. An NPC that kills itself is one that players don't have to expend resources to kill, allowing them to go further in an adventuring day. If the NPCs are such non-threats that critfails don't have an effect... why the hell are they even there?

darkscizor
2015-08-30, 11:04 AM
My response to the "20th level fighters fall and mess up a lot more than 1st level fighters!": For one, the fighter in question is probably attacking four times per round, and as such would be a lot more likely to miss or mess up. In any case, the best solution may be to allow a DC 10 check with your active ability score (melee attack fails would use STR, for example) to save yourself.

Jormengand
2015-08-30, 01:13 PM
In any case, the best solution may be to allow a DC 10 check with your active ability score (melee attack fails would use STR, for example) to save yourself.

Which means that 1st-level raging orc barbarians have a much better grip on their weapons than 20th-level elf fighters. Wielding longswords. Which they've sunk multiple feats into. A 1st-level orc barbarian can fly into a rage, grab a chair, whack you with it, and be less likely to drop it than a calm collected elf fighter who's spent the past nineteen levels wielding longswords - weapons which every elf ever to come to be already instinctively knows how to use - is to drop said longsword.

You could always allow a DC 10 BAB check. No, we know the elf can't fail. Yes, that is okay. He's level 20.

Wardog
2015-08-30, 04:21 PM
Unless someone is completely incompetent (untrained and clumsy/stupid), there is no way they should have a major accident every 20th shot or strike they take.

I suppose that missing one shot in 20 even if they really ought to be able to hit is about reasonable, given there are all sorts of things that could happen unpredictably (air turbulence disturbing your arrow, the enemy moving unexpectely so your sword glances off their belt buckle, etc). But unless you are playing as Jar Jar Binks (or his medieval fantasy equivilent) you shouldn't be dropping your weapon or stabbing yourself/your friends with that frequency.

Studoku
2015-08-30, 04:26 PM
Personally, I generally just treat a 1 as a miss. PCs are assumed to be somewhat competent; it's annoying enough to fail at a routine task, like attacking an opponent, without adding on some extra humiliation.

However, though I forget where I read it (it may have been on this very forum), there was one set of house rules regarding critical fumbles which struck me as particularly good:

"Any proposed critical fumble rules shall be submitted to the following test:

- Ten average, 1st-level Warriors (with longswords) shall attack ten ordinary straw dummies (AC 5) for a period of two minutes (twenty rounds).

- If, at the conclusion of that period, any of the warriors are dead or dying, the DM shall be required to tear up his critical fumble rules and eat them."

I'm more a fan of:


Critical Fumble Rule:
If at any time a DM shall propose using a "critical failure" or "fumble" table of any sort in a 3.X game, the players are to beat the DM with folding chairs until each of them has accidentally struck himself with his chair at least once, while keeping a count of the number of strikes made before this happens. Then, the average rate of such "fumbles" as generated by a table full of nerds swinging improvised weapons will establish the maximum probability of a "fumble" within the game mechanics for a level 1 Commoner (note that this already will probably require rolling multiple Natural 1's in succession to confirm a fumble), with the probability dropping by at least an order of magnitude per point of BAB of the attacking character. Thus a full-BAB character at level 20 might have to roll 20+ Natural 1's in a row to before you even bother glancing at the Fumble Table.

goto124
2015-08-30, 10:16 PM
*cries with laughter*

Everyone made lots of Fortitude saves and Medicine checks that day.

Pex
2015-08-30, 10:20 PM
This is something that should ALWAYS be kept in mind when crit fumbling/failing. It's not incompetence, it's luck.



So the higher your level the worse your luck becomes?

Mutazoia
2015-08-30, 10:22 PM
I'm more a fan of:
Critical Fumble Rule:
If at any time a DM shall propose using a "critical failure" or "fumble" table of any sort in a 3.X game, the players are to beat the DM with folding chairs until each of them has accidentally struck himself with his chair at least once, while keeping a count of the number of strikes made before this happens. Then, the average rate of such "fumbles" as generated by a table full of nerds swinging improvised weapons will establish the maximum probability of a "fumble" within the game mechanics for a level 1 Commoner (note that this already will probably require rolling multiple Natural 1's in succession to confirm a fumble), with the probability dropping by at least an order of magnitude per point of BAB of the attacking character. Thus a full-BAB character at level 20 might have to roll 20+ Natural 1's in a row to before you even bother glancing at the Fumble Table.

The problem is...critical fumbles happen IRL. I LARP...live combat larp, not this "stop everything, roll dice, an then pretend to swing your sword" junk. I've seen the best players in the game accidentally throw their sword across the field on a swing, or hit their own team mate in the head, or snap a bow string, and even fall on their own sword. One guy, who prefers to fight with a short spear, tried to swing it around and hit himself in the head as his opponent managed to get his sword in the way.

You are assuming that RPG combat is akin to the old cartoons where two people take turns hitting each other over the head...first guy whallops the second guy then stands there doing nothing while the second guy whallops him, who stands there and does nothing while the first guy....you get the picture. The fact of the matter is, all these actions are taking place in rapid succession, many times at the exact same time. The game imposes initiative rolls so the DM doesn't blow a gasket trying to make sense of 50 things happening at the same time...but combat isn't structured like that.

So, yes...you CAN injure your self with your own weapon in melee combat (or ranged combat). Some times it's no one's fault but your own, some times your opponent gets in your way and scores an assist. How ever you want to fluff it in your combat narration is up to you...but the law of averages says it's going to happen and, like the law of gravity, you can't break it (RPG magic not withstanding).

Pex
2015-08-30, 10:57 PM
The problem is...critical fumbles happen IRL. I LARP...live combat larp, not this "stop everything, roll dice, an then pretend to swing your sword" junk. I've seen the best players in the game accidentally throw their sword across the field on a swing, or hit their own team mate in the head, or snap a bow string, and even fall on their own sword. One guy, who prefers to fight with a short spear, tried to swing it around and hit himself in the head as his opponent managed to get his sword in the way.

You are assuming that RPG combat is akin to the old cartoons where two people take turns hitting each other over the head...first guy whallops the second guy then stands there doing nothing while the second guy whallops him, who stands there and does nothing while the first guy....you get the picture. The fact of the matter is, all these actions are taking place in rapid succession, many times at the exact same time. The game imposes initiative rolls so the DM doesn't blow a gasket trying to make sense of 50 things happening at the same time...but combat isn't structured like that.

So, yes...you CAN injure your self with your own weapon in melee combat (or ranged combat). Some times it's no one's fault but your own, some times your opponent gets in your way and scores an assist. How ever you want to fluff it in your combat narration is up to you...but the law of averages says it's going to happen and, like the law of gravity, you can't break it (RPG magic not withstanding).

Real life people are not 20th level warriors.

Spellcasters are still not bothered at all while warriors are killing themselves.

goto124
2015-08-30, 11:08 PM
Spellcaster-martial inqeuality?

Give critical fails to all those overpowered Wizards too!

Red Fel
2015-08-31, 06:30 AM
So, yes...you CAN injure your self with your own weapon in melee combat (or ranged combat). Some times it's no one's fault but your own, some times your opponent gets in your way and scores an assist. How ever you want to fluff it in your combat narration is up to you...but the law of averages says it's going to happen and, like the law of gravity, you can't break it (RPG magic not withstanding).

Not disagreeing. In real life, everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes, they're minor, like failing to hit your target. Sometimes they're major, like cutting off your foot. Screw-ups happen.

The problems with that are (1) the fact that it penalizes martials more than casters, which is still unfair come on guys, and (2) the fact that, as they are currently and generally designed, they penalize superior martials over inferior ones. An illustration of #2, in the LARP context, would be giving a brand new LARPer a light, maneuverable foam weapon, which he can wield easily, and giving the experienced LARPer a weapon with a hollow tube inside, containing a quantity of sand that shifts when used, causing the weapon to be constantly unwieldy and prone to messing up. It makes no sense.

As an aside, nobody is "assuming that RPG combat is akin to the old cartoons where two people take turns hitting each other over the head", at least not to my knowledge. What is assumed is that a character who has extensive combat experience, whose talent is leagues ahead of the average, shouldn't be more likely than an untrained commoner to accidentally mutilate himself or an ally, because that is daft.

Laurellien
2015-08-31, 07:10 AM
I use Paizo's fumble deck. It's an amazing product and well-worth it. The way I work fumbles is just like critical hits - if a player rolls a natural 1 on an attack roll, then they should roll again. If the second roll misses, then they have fumbled.

I'm also considering using it for spell saves. Normally, a natural 20 auto-passes a save, but I'm wondering if it might cause the spell-caster to fumble...

Hawkstar
2015-08-31, 07:40 AM
Spellcasters are still not bothered at all while warriors are killing themselves.

That's a problem with spellcasters, and one exclusive to D&D and its clones. In my GURPS, Ironclaw, Shard, Shadowrun, and homebrew system my group's been playing (A dice pool system), the casters **** up just as often and even more spectacularly than the martial characters. They also **** up just as often in 4e.

TheCountAlucard
2015-08-31, 09:31 AM
I'd also like to point out that your average LARPer is human, where your average high-level D&D character is superhuman. Look at the feats they can pull off - not talking about Power Attack here, I'm saying, even a mid-level character can do things beyond our limits as humans.

Frozen_Feet
2015-08-31, 11:33 AM
I don't use critical failures in any version of D&D I own, because the rules don't ask for such AND it would be redundant.

A critical fail in D&D is "you rolled a miss, your enemy rolled a hit for max damage". Or "you rolled four 1s in succession and your foe ran away". The system already simulates and allows for fringe bad events without penalizing more competent characters.

The systems I use or have designed where critical failures are a thing, they tend to be less granular so you need to simulate those fringe bad events some other ways. They typically have a less swingy RNG too, or at least the chances of critical failure go down with skill. There are some games where hilariously chance of critically failing goes up with character skill, but in those games the reasoning is "the higher you stand, the bigger the mess when you fall".

Havelocke
2015-08-31, 12:04 PM
Critical failures are a double edged sword. As a GM in a long running star wars campaign, both the players and myself had many critical failures. The easiest way I can describe a critical failure, is when Han steps on a stick on Endor and alerts the scout trooper. I do not think anyone can deny that Han is a high level rogue-like badass and even he can roll a 1 and botch his sneak roll. The party had all sorts of hilarity ensue from situations similar to this. A bad bluff roll can turn a simple infiltration into a fly by the seat of their pants smash and grab all because the Jedi botched a mind control roll on some stormtroopers. A miscalculation while piloting causes some sort of damage to the ship (not catastrophic but critical, such as navigation being on the fritz, or a temporary loss of shields or hyperdrive). In D&D I have had amusing things happen. A ranger that I was running had a fantastic plan to jump out of a tree and plunge his swords into the enemy leader's unsuspecting head...but I rolled a 1 for my athletics and fell out of the tree and landed directly in front of the foe, best laid plans and all of that. The penalty should be some sort of situation complication, not necessarily severely injuring your friends. That last thing you want is to have your group turn into an "player vs GM" situation, the goal is to have fun and tell a story, not promote grudges and hard feelings.

Keledrath
2015-08-31, 12:17 PM
For me, it depends on who rolled it.
Player Characters: minor accident, usually based on environment or how they were fighting, wih a save to avoid. For example, when a player crit failed to punch a magmin, DC 12 Reflex save or take -1 to his next damage roll because he burned his fingers.

NPC: similar to players, but more serious. An Alchemist might drop his bomb in his square. A pirate captain got his sword stuck in the mast (and earlier fires a cannon by accident when he slipped on a wet patch of deck). If the environment doesn't give me inspiration, they provoke an attack of opportunity.

GMPC: the players bow their heads for a moment of silence. I've had 3 of these happen. They all died.
One was teleporting behind an enemy, and overshot into the wall of fire just beyond them.
One was trying to tumble past an enemy. Slipped in the water around the enemy and faceplanted into the wall, stunning him for the fight.
One lost her sword as she engaged a plot element. As in I'd originally planned for her to beat on it while the player cleared out the minions to get the point across that this guy was out of their league. She ended up getting bitch slapped through the ship. By multiple lightning bolts.

1337 b4k4
2015-08-31, 01:42 PM
So the higher your level the worse your luck becomes?

More that the more complex actions you take, the more likely you are to mess up or be injured. A Level 20 fighter has exactly the same chances of having bad luck as a Level 1 fighter if they're doing the same things a Level 1 fighter can do. But if you're doing more complicated things, you have more chances for something to go wrong, which is why the Level 1 guy can't do that in the first place.

Or to put it in real world terms, any stuntman in any movie has a quantifiable chance of being injured performing a given stunt. But in any given movie, Jackie Chan is more likely to get injured than Random Stuntman A, even thought Jackie Chan is the best of the best, because Jackie Chan is doing far more dangerous and complicated stunts.

Deified Data
2015-08-31, 03:28 PM
Generally? I tell them they failed at what it was they were trying to do.

I'm not fond of critical failures. Particularly for two reasons. First, critical fumble rules penalize melees, who make rolls which could critically fail, over casters, who don't. Casters don't need another advantage over melees. Second, consider this. A higher-level melee makes more attacks per round than a lower-level one, which means more chances to critically fail. The idea that a trained combatant, who has become a peerless exemplar of the art of warfare, should be more likely to do something horrifically bad than an untrained novice, is incredibly absurd.

So when one of my players rolls a one? "Nope, that's a fail. Next?"

When I first started playing, I thought they were funny and even laughed a little when I got one, but as our campaign progressed and some sessions would have upwards of a dozen crit fails between the five of us, it's just started to get tiresome. I'm really starting to come around to the mindset in this post - your character isn't some random guy off the street, he's the cream of the crop as far as adventurers are concerned. When he knocks an arrow, it's not going to somehow miss his target by a mile and plant itself in his ally's skull - it's just going to miss.

I think there's still room for varying degrees of failure, and I'm not opposed to a failure of 1 being worse than a failure of 5, but it's not going to be as cartoonishly goofy as a sword flying out of a warrior's hand who's trained with it since childhood. It doesn't make sense.

Hawkstar
2015-08-31, 03:48 PM
Critical failures are a double edged sword. As a GM in a long running star wars campaign, both the players and myself had many critical failures. The easiest way I can describe a critical failure, is when Han steps on a stick on Endor and alerts the scout trooper. I do not think anyone can deny that Han is a high level rogue-like badass and even he can roll a 1 and botch his sneak roll. The party had all sorts of hilarity ensue from situations similar to this. A bad bluff roll can turn a simple infiltration into a fly by the seat of their pants smash and grab all because the Jedi botched a mind control roll on some stormtroopers. A miscalculation while piloting causes some sort of damage to the ship (not catastrophic but critical, such as navigation being on the fritz, or a temporary loss of shields or hyperdrive). In D&D I have had amusing things happen. A ranger that I was running had a fantastic plan to jump out of a tree and plunge his swords into the enemy leader's unsuspecting head...but I rolled a 1 for my athletics and fell out of the tree and landed directly in front of the foe, best laid plans and all of that. The penalty should be some sort of situation complication, not necessarily severely injuring your friends. That last thing you want is to have your group turn into an "player vs GM" situation, the goal is to have fun and tell a story, not promote grudges and hard feelings.

Nah... the stick was a normal failure. His critical failure ended in "Alright guys, let's build ourselves a reactor!" (See - the Robot Chicken Sketch)

Knaight
2015-08-31, 05:36 PM
The problem is...critical fumbles happen IRL. I LARP...live combat larp, not this "stop everything, roll dice, an then pretend to swing your sword" junk. I've seen the best players in the game accidentally throw their sword across the field on a swing, or hit their own team mate in the head, or snap a bow string, and even fall on their own sword. One guy, who prefers to fight with a short spear, tried to swing it around and hit himself in the head as his opponent managed to get his sword in the way.

I do something similar, minus the RP bit - all combat, all the time. Bow strings snap occasionally, people lose grips on their weapons, so on and so forth. It is absolutely nowhere near once per person per two minutes, which is the odds using a 1 on a 1d20 with one attack per six second round. The timing then drops with iterative attacks from once per two minutes to once per one minute, then once per forty seconds, then once per thirty seconds. From a realistic perspective, people do get in more than one good strike in six seconds reasonably often, particularly the better combatants, implying that it's those lower times that would see use. Even once per person per day is pretty high.

Darth Tom
2015-08-31, 05:47 PM
I always liked the "interesting twist" version of a critical fail. So they fail as usual (totally agree on terrible things happening not being very much fun) but depending on the tone and theme made a bit of a "oh now you've got to be kidding me" thing happen. Whether it's the ceiling falling in or an ominous noise in the distance, well... either role or DM choice.

mephnick
2015-08-31, 06:54 PM
Hate crit fumbles in combat for all the reasons listed here. I'm more open to crit fails on skill checks, but even then I don't usually add anything extra.

I work in an industrial setting. If all the workers at my place of employment screwed up royally every 20th time we do something under pressure, I'm pretty sure the industry would no longer exist. Now, I don't fight ogres for a living, but it seems silly the best warrior in the known world would be dropping his weapon or tripping almost constantly.

goto124
2015-08-31, 09:56 PM
'When he knocks an arrow, it's not going to somehow miss his target by a mile and plant itself in his ally's skull - it's just going to miss.'

Of course not. The arrow's going to slice off her hair. More likely with a sword though.


One of the reasons I quit playing D&D was the ALWAYS 5% fail chance. If I were to play again, I'd have players confirm it, or similar. If you roll a 1, roll again, if you get 5 or less, it's critical, then you're looking at 5% on any roll is a 1 and 25% of rerolls are crit fails, so in total you've got about 1.25% chance of critical failure per roll, much better in my mind.

What it probably looks like IRL (http://24.media.tumblr.com/f4634920ad752586b0e0dfe7635437dc/tumblr_mob1018ZtN1speixgo1_500.gif). Sorry for potato quality.

Mr. Bitter
2015-08-31, 10:14 PM
If it's melee, they provoke attacks of opportunity. If it's ranged, I have them inflict 1d10 damage of friendly fire to another player of my choice. More complicated stuff has been either too slow in play or too lethal. The pace of combat is more important than using some overly baroque d100 critical fumbles chart.

SkipSandwich
2015-08-31, 10:52 PM
I used critical fumbles back when my brother used to dm games of Advanced Heroquest when we were kids. The penalty for rolling a 1 was a simple AoO from the monster you attacked.

Nowadays i prefer to use Masive Damage rules where receiving a big enough hit carries the risk of causing things like losing limbs, getting impaled, decapitatation and what have you, with specific effects based on the type of damage, where it hit, and if it was lethal or non-lethal damage. (Fort Save allowed to negate non-lethal effects or reduce lethal effects to become non-lethal)

Gotta put that regeneration spell to some use after all, right?

Hawkstar
2015-09-01, 07:45 AM
On a mechanical level, one thing critical failures do is help alleviate disparity in the action economy, equalizing the two sides toward each other. The side with the more actions per round is hindered more than the other.

GloatingSwine
2015-09-01, 11:20 AM
Spellcaster-martial inqeuality?

Give critical fails to all those overpowered Wizards too!

Find the old Weirdboy spellcasting tables from 2nd ed 40k. They had some spectacular critical fails for spellcasting. Up to and including spontaneous head explosion.

ArkenBrony
2015-09-01, 11:41 AM
I tend to make natural ones treated as a -5. This makes the likelihood of success really low, but if it happens to be a super easy task then you still succeed. conversely, i also make natural 20's treated as a 25, so really hard checks remain impossible.

Pex
2015-09-01, 12:20 PM
I tend to make natural ones treated as a -5. This makes the likelihood of success really low, but if it happens to be a super easy task then you still succeed. conversely, i also make natural 20's treated as a 25, so really hard checks remain impossible.

If they can't fail on a Natural 1 or can't succeed on a Natural 20 then why roll, and this is even before the +-5 modifier.

tgva8889
2015-09-01, 01:12 PM
On a mechanical level, one thing critical failures do is help alleviate disparity in the action economy, equalizing the two sides toward each other. The side with the more actions per round is hindered more than the other.

Only if that side is using actions that require d20 checks. It's very easy to play a character that forces everyone else to roll, rather than rolling themselves, if you try hard enough.

Knaight
2015-09-01, 02:12 PM
If they can't fail on a Natural 1 or can't succeed on a Natural 20 then why roll, and this is even before the +-5 modifier.

If the GM doesn't have the character sheet memorized, then getting the result this way might be fastest. Plus, in any system which implements varying degrees of success or failure, the roll can be used to determine the extent to which a character succeeds or fail.

SkipSandwich
2015-09-01, 03:49 PM
If the GM doesn't have the character sheet memorized, then getting the result this way might be fastest. Plus, in any system which implements varying degrees of success or failure, the roll can be used to determine the extent to which a character succeeds or fail.

I've actually been brainstorming ideas for a degree-of-success system to streamline combat by reducing the number of rolls.

You make a single attack roll opposed by the target's dodge or parry roll, win and you hit them one time multiplied by the number of successes, with each full 5 points by which you beat the opponent yielding an additional success.

Full attack you double your bab to determine success
Full defense you double your dodge/parry

Not yet sure how i want to handle weapons with different critical threat/multiiers yet

mikeejimbo
2015-09-01, 05:38 PM
http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2014/10/16/respect-the-die-you-reach-out-to-push-the-orc-off-the-bridge/

This is what critical fumbles should lead to.

Pex
2015-09-01, 06:16 PM
http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2014/10/16/respect-the-die-you-reach-out-to-push-the-orc-off-the-bridge/

This is what critical fumbles should lead to.

I play a paladin in one of my games who wouldn't mind that at all.

mikeejimbo
2015-09-02, 09:41 AM
I play a paladin in one of my games who wouldn't mind that at all.

Yes, exactly - something unexpected but not necessarily negative.

JenBurdoo
2015-09-04, 12:30 PM
I run a very rules-lite game where no one is making extra attacks as they go up in level, and magic-users still have to roll for their spells to go off, so balance stays the same. The players are all rank newbies, and so far enjoy the critical hits and failures. I look more for humorous rather than deadly results -- The healer who rolls a one accidentally breaks her patient's wrist (In retrospect, a better choice would have been for her to spill and waste her potions); the elemental mage who tried to build a wall instead created a hole under herself and was stuck; the climbers out of a hole snapped their rope (twice!) and ended up using Spectral Hand to lift themselves out, but not before the necromancer lost his concentration on the way up and dropped someone.

Hawkstar
2015-09-04, 12:35 PM
If it weren't for critical hits and failures, DigoDragon's Fallout: Equestria character Doc Wagon wouldn't be the most lethal medic in the wasteland!

goto124
2015-09-05, 06:55 AM
Though, it's been ages since he cut somepony with a bottle of disinfectant, causing her to spray blood everywhere.