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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why I don't like Fumble rules

A number of games include rules (or even house rules) for fumbling. Usually, on a  roll of a 1, something bad happens. I'm not real fond of this. While it can produce some funny results, this rule is much more likely to hurt players than it is to help them. In general, players roll the dice a lot more than the DM. They are using the same character week after week. Having fumble rules affect them is much more likely to kill off their character than it is to help them in some way. I know at least a few DMs have an almost adversarial outlook while gaming, so they really like adding in random stuff like fumbles.

I don't really think this is necessary, especially if you are playing some kind of retroclone or any older edition of D&D. In these games, player mortality is already pretty high. Adding in such a random factor like fumbles is just icing on the cake. If a player dies, I'd prefer it be because he did something stupid or lost in a fight that he already knew was dangerous. Not because he dropped his sword and the blade sliced open his leg.

I could see using fumble rules for NPCs only. That would still add the comedic effect that fumbles produce, without actively harming my friends characters.


Zzarchov said...

Personally I like them BECAUSE they harm PC's. Now fumble rules don't have to be self-mutilating. Disarmament is usually pretty good. A sword lodged in a wooden pillar etc. I usually give the option of being disarmed or the opponent gets a free attack, players choice. This forces the players to use a backup weapon, or to pick up a chair etc. It is much the same as with critical hits, true they tend to hurt PC's more than NPC's, but they add so much excitement to otherwise predicable number crunches.

Ian said...

Personally, I like fumbles.


I can say that you get your pike stuck in the roman column and you were busy taking it out while everything else was still going on. But I would never make a character lose a turn because of it. I guess that's the bonus of minute-long melee rounds.

Tim Shorts said...

This is one of those questions I ask the players before we start what they would like to do. I like to have the same rules for the PCs as the NPCs. So if the players prefer not to play with fumbles then the NPCs don't fumble either. But I can't recall the players ever choosing not to have them. I know when I am a player I like them. I'm not too bothered if my player is killed. If he fumbles and get whacked it was not meant to be.

Brian Lujan said...

I like to use them (and critical HITS for that matter) because it adds a little spice to the combat. A little of the unexpected. I don't usually like to do anything drastic like "Your pistol explodes in your hand and you lose 3 fingers" or anything, but I'll have them drop a weapon, or slip in a puddle of blood to mix it up a little. Otherwise, all the combats start to look similar.

Also, you can not have fumbles and NOT critical hits. You have to balance one with the other. If you get bonuses for rolling a 20, you should have adverse effects if you roll a 1. But that's just my opinion.