Monday, June 9, 2014

Simple Critical Fumble Chart

Art by Todd Mauldin
Critical fumbles. Some people love them, some people hate them. Personally, I feel like they can be entertaining if handled correctly. However, there's the problem. How do you handle a critical fumble?

The most common answers to this question seem to be either A) just ignore them and treat them as a normal miss, or B) utilize a critical fumble chart that has numerous different results that are rolled randomly. Since Option A has already been taken off the table, I guess we're left with Option B. While I like the idea of critical fumble charts, I feel like the numerous specific actions presented on said chart has the potential to add an additional level of complexity to combat that's ultimately unnecessary.

However, I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Maybe I could create a simplified critical fumble chart, one with only a small handful of results that are relatively broad and can apply to multiple situations. With that in mind, I think I'm going to use the following house rule in my Secrets of Magnimar Pathfinder Campaign:

Whenever a character's attack roll results in a natural 1, they must make an additional attack roll against their opponent. If that attack roll would fail to hit the opponent, they have critically fumbled their attack and must roll a d% and consult the following table to see what happens.  

d% Results
01-50 The character simply misses and suffers no ill effect.
51-80 The character misses and suffers a setback of some sort. The character is treated as if they were dazed. They can spend a move action to fix this.
81-100 The character misses, but leaves themselves open to retaliation. Their opponent receives a free attack of opportunity against them.

Unlike traditional critical fumble charts, this one only has three basic results to keep things simple. Also, I tried to give the results a percentage that would favor the players, hence why a simple miss has the biggest range of result and the free attack of opportunity has the smallest.

I might add an additional result or two in the near future, just to give this chart a little more variety. Maybe have a result where the character misses and gives the opponent the chance to move a very short distance away from the character for free. Also, I might change the dice used to determine the critical fumble result from a d% to a d12, mostly to give the d12 more love. If I do that, the results will be 1 to 6 for the first entry, 7 to 10 for the second entry, and 11 to 12 for the final entry.