Critical fumbles... any experience?

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Blogotron
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Critical fumbles... any experience?

#1 Postby Blogotron » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:02 pm

I have played with the Critonomicon from Technomancer press in many of my D20 games. My players have universally loved and loathed it. The book has enough tables and styles of tables ( from boring damage modifiers to truly immediately bloodilly lethal) that I could assign different tables to different levels: PCs, Master NPCs and mooks.

Well I have experimented with porting it into SW these past few sessions for trait rolls whose critical failures are not already described. The only problem is SW is inconsistent when it comes to such abysmal results.

For example Firing into Melee getting a one on your trait die (throwing or Shooting) results in someone besides your target getting hit but snake eyes on your Vigor roll after Incapacitation results in immediate death. Furthermore on a Spellcasting roll a one on the trait die indicates an Arcane Backlash yet the Spell can still go off without a hitch if the Wild die is successful. What the Hell happens if you get a one on you trait die but fail to get a 4 on your wild die? I would assume, logically, that no magic is summoned and thus no backlash can occur but this does not seem to be the case according to the SW:EX rules.

So far we have ruled that when firing into melee you only hit someone besides your opponent if you roll a one on the trait roll but a 4 or better on your wild die. Arcane failure nor incapacitation have come up, so far.

My primary question is should minor mishaps occur if the trait roll is a one yet the wild die succeeds? Such as the Gunslinger was aiming at the Amulet in the Cultist's hands but his trigger finger was a bit hasty and blew a hole in the Cultist's chest instead? Should Fumbles only occur if you roll snake eyes? In this case Fumbles would be dramatic and rarely in the Character's favor. Or should fumbles only occur of the trait die was rolled a one and the Wild die failed?

Or should critical failures only exist as outlined in the SW rules and ignore the possibilities of other poor rolls?

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#2 Postby supercOntra » Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:05 pm

In my games snake eyes is a fumble. A natural one is a failure but nothing dramatic
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#3 Postby Count Zero » Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:26 pm

With over 25 years of gaming experience I think I've used about every method under the sun and I've come to the conclusion that I don't like critical fumbles. Failure is bad enough and one of the things I hate more than anything is a bad dice roll screwing up a great idea; critical fumbles just screw characters more. Ultimately its no fun for the group. I am, however, a big fan of critical hits. Getting rewarded for a big roll is far more satisfying than getting punished for a bad one and just makes the game better.
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#4 Postby daran » Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:45 pm

I quite like the innocent bystander rule - get a 1 on your strike/shoot die and hit the target directly adjacent to it. This has resulted in some truly hysterical and in some places amazing game play. Witness a wounded duffer of a pirate swinging away with a musket and merrily beheading skeletons while aiming at one to the left. The players had great fun and while it was a kind of critical failure, they now look forward to the disasters as well as the successes.

Of course when I'm a player, my disasters normally result in, well disaster and not some kind of alternate good fortune!
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#5 Postby marshal kt » Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:30 pm

the entire idea of more charts and tables is contrary to the F!F!F! idea.

if someone in my group rolls a 1 or double 1, i improvise.

i've been playing rpg's since 1980..i've used various fumble and crit charts.. from simple early AD&D 5 line results to roll masters multiple pages charts.. sometimes they made the game, sometimes it was more effort than it was worth.
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#6 Postby MarCazm » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:49 am

I'm glad that it is up to the GM to think about and choose what fits better in that situation. Maybe, the character looses his weapon or breaks it hits another one or else...

To crit charts I personally don't like them. Happens to much that everybody rolls the same result, which is quite awkward.

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#7 Postby supercOntra » Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:56 am

I usually wing results according to the situation. I agree crit tables often yield the same results. Also it's impossible to have tables for every skill roll.
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#8 Postby Boldfist » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:03 am

Two house rules I use:

Critical Miss
If a Wild Card rolls double one's on an attack roll they may not spend a benny to re-roll. In addition, the GM still gets to "make up something rotten to happen to your character". This only applies to combat. Bennies may still be spent to reroll critically failed Skill attempts.

Critical Miss Benny
If a Wild Card rolls double one's on an attack roll they gain a benny. This helps off-set the "rotten" thing that is about to happen to your character! Remember, this benny cannot be spent to re-roll the miss.
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Re: Critical fumbles... any experience?

#9 Postby Clint » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:27 am

Blogotron wrote:Well I have experimented with porting it into SW these past few sessions for trait rolls whose critical failures are not already described. The only problem is SW is inconsistent when it comes to such abysmal results.

For example Firing into Melee getting a one on your trait die (throwing or Shooting) results in someone besides your target getting hit but snake eyes on your Vigor roll after Incapacitation results in immediate death. Furthermore on a Spellcasting roll a one on the trait die indicates an Arcane Backlash yet the Spell can still go off without a hitch if the Wild die is successful. What the Hell happens if you get a one on you trait die but fail to get a 4 on your wild die? I would assume, logically, that no magic is summoned and thus no backlash can occur but this does not seem to be the case according to the SW:EX rules.


If a 1 is rolled on the Trait die, then Backlash occurs, regardless of the Wild Die (the spell could fail or succeed on the Wild Die). Remember, even if a power fails to activate, Power Points are lost, so some "power" was summoned/used even if it did not have the desired effect.

Also, I mentioned this in another thread, but I'll reiterate it here. Neither spell backlash/malfunctions or the Innocent Bystanders rules are examples of a 'critical failure."

They are in both cases additional effects that apply only in those specific situations (and the Innocent Bystander rule only applies if the GM thinks it is dramatically appropriate).

There are relatively few instances where the effects of a true "Critical Failure," snake eyes or a 1 showing on the Trait Die and a 1 showing on the Wild Die, are defined.

Incapacitation is one, but its mostly to delineate that there is no worse effect than instant death on that table, so that's where a critical failure lies.

The chase rules have an effect where the vehicle goes out of control on that result and AB: Psionics has a specific brainburn effect on a critical failure. Other than that, it's really just up to GM determination.

But the key point I want to make is that a 1 on a Trait Die without a 1 on the Wild Die only results in a negative effect in certain special circumstances or as a mechanical balance to another effect (like arcane powers). It is not, nor should be, considered an overarching rule applied to other Trait rolls.

Just want that clarified (if possible).
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#10 Postby jasales » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:31 pm

And to further clarify, from your examples above, Clint. These typically would only happen if a player was out of bennies or decided not to spend them correct?

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#11 Postby jSpengler » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:26 pm

jasales wrote:And to further clarify, from your examples above, Clint. These typically would only happen if a player was out of bennies or decided not to spend them correct?


While I'm not answering your question for Clint, your question hits on how I handle "critical fumbles". When my players roll snake eyes, they can't use bennies to reroll their failure. I'm in Count Zero's boat: failing at what you set out to do is typically bad enough. (It just so happens that when my guys fail, something hilarious typically ends up happening anyway. I rarely need a game mechanical as an excuse to make things even more over the top. :-D )

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#12 Postby Clint » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:54 pm

jasales wrote:And to further clarify, from your examples above, Clint. These typically would only happen if a player was out of bennies or decided not to spend them correct?


Typically, yeah. Though bennies are no absolute guarantee of avoiding the situations.
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#13 Postby Tuesday » Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:09 pm

These typically would only happen if a player was out of bennies or decided not to spend them correct?


Or if they rolled a 1 (or a double-1) again.

And the classic result is autofire: 3 skill dice, 1 wild die. If your results are 1, 6, 12, 1, then that's *probably* two hits, one innocent bystander, and a critfail. Spend a benny to reroll, you might come up 1,1,2,20 - two innocent bystanders AND a hit with a raise.

You have to pick one of those two set of results. You can't choose the 20 Wild Die and the 2,12,6 Skill Dice - you must choose one full set, failures and bystanders and all.

(Or you could spend ANOTHER Benny to get a new full set).

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#14 Postby Blogotron » Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:43 pm

Alright.

So if I wanted to institute a Critical failure rule I should require Snake Eyes (no worry concerning autofire and wheellocks are our only option). That was my initial idea but some of the rules as written left me wondering.

I may or may not rely upon tables, in fact I might have my players decide how they screw up, within guidelines of course.

Thankyou, everyone, for your input.

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#15 Postby supercOntra » Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:41 am

Try letting the other players decide how the fumbler screws up :) :twisted:
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