Critical Fumbles


Ethan mentioned wanting to introduce critical fumbles into our game. I suggested we create a d30 table for it to which he was very excited since his d30 doesn't get much use.

This table is to be used to determine "what happens" when a critical fumble (aka a "1") is rolled on a d20 when doing an attack or skill check.


There are two ways to use the table:

  1. the critical fumble is decided by rolling a d30, OR
  2. the critical fumble is decided by going in order down the table; the first critical fumble of the night is item 1, the second is item 2, ...; when you get to the bottom, you start over

The first method is more random, but takes longer to use. The second method is faster to use since it's one less die roll, but it increases player anxiety because they know what's next....


  1. Rule of appropriateness: In some cases, the thing you rolled won't match the context you're in. In that case, the group can add a rule to the item that matches the context or move down the table until an appropriate one is reached (except items 20 through 30).
    If you get to rule 20, then start at the top.
    If none of the items are appropriate, then DM decides what happened and it's so amazingly spasmodically crazy that all characters suffer total amnesia as to what it was but all effects remain.
  2. Rule of amusement: In some cases, a very specific item applies so amazingly well that the group over-rules the d30 result in favor of the specific item. Generally, if caustic laughter erupts forth after someone says, "What if he got xyz! BWAH-HA HA HA HA HA!" then go for it. Fun trumps dice.
  3. Rule of abode: House rules trumps dice, fun and table.
  4. Rule of DM: On occasion, the DM will see a critical fumble as a great way to do something "interesting". Thus DM trumps house rules, dice, fun and table.


# effect
1All: Character slips/trips. Character makes balance check DC 15 or drops prone to the floor however far down that may be.
2--: Nothing happens.
3All: AWKWARD! In the heat of massive fumbling, character momentarily loses inhibitions and unintentionally mentions something extremely awkward and otherwise unknown by members in the party (truth about a lie, a secret, something embarrassing, ...).
4Using tool/weapon: Character's weapon/tool goes sailing into the air! Make an acrobatics (or something similar) check DC 15.
On success, character almost drops tool/weapon, it somersaults in the air, and character catches it deftly.
On failure, nearby allies can make "catches of opportunity": acrobatics (or something similar--whatever sounds fun) check DC 15 and return weapon to character, or the tool/weapon is dropped.
On a critical fumble, you drop the weapon and get to roll on the table again!
Not using tool/weapon: Character loses mind and mutters incoherently for 1d6 minutes.
5--: Nothing happens.
6All: Character trips, wobbles, and then crashes into adjacent ally. Character and ally make acrobatics checks DC 20 or fall prone.
7All: TEAPOT! Character fumbles so bad it inadvertently offends the gods! Character must atone by singing one round of "I'm a little teapot"
8In combat: Character hits self for 1d4 damage.
Out of combat: Character flails and pokes self in eye for 1d4 damage.
9--: Nothing happens.
10All: Character's fumble causes damage to environment! Furniture is smashed, door is bashed in, floor is scuffed, ceiling bumped, plantlife crushed, off-the-cuff remark causes waiter to drop tray, ...
11All: SHINY! Character prepares to do the action, but is suddenly distracted by shiny something until next round! Character is not allowed to make attacks of opportunity until next round.
12In combat, melee: Character overextends and draws attacks of opportunity.
In combat, ranged: Character fumbles with missile weapon and missile sails across the battlefield alerting everyone of character's presence.
In combat, magic (or related): Where magnificent displays of awe-inspiring magic would burst out rendering crazy amazing things, instead a small puff of smoke appears and a very puny, "Pop."
Skill check: Character suffers deja-vu and "remembers" that he/she made a critical fumble last time. Woah.
13--: Nothing happens.
14All: Roll +10 vs. Will for all allies in line-of-sight. For "hits", ally sees character's SPECTACULAR fumble and can't help themselves from mocking character for it for the duration of the session.
15In combat: Enemies are heartened by character's wild fumble. All enemies in line-of-site get combat advantage to attack character for their next turn.
Out of combat: Character fumbles; everyone in vicinity, laughs heartily! Character is at a -2 disadvantage for Charisma-based checks for 1d6 minutes.
16--: Nothing happens.
17In combat: Character fumbles, but pulls it together. Barely. Character loses any remaining actions this round.
Out of combat: Blunder sets character's progress in whatever he/she was doing. This is a gaffe in social situations, breaking a part of a trap mechanism, kicking dust all over the tracks, ... Future checks have +2 DC.
18Inside: Bits of ceiling fall into character's eyes causing him/her to fumble! Character is dazed for one round.
Outside: Dust flies into character's eyes causing him/her to fumble! Character is dazed for one round.
19In combat, ranged: Character pulls something from inventory that's similar to ammo being used and tries to use that instead for hilarious results. (e.g. alchemical fire vial instead of bullet, stick instead of arrow, cigar instead of bolt, ...; cartoon-style creativity is key here)
20--: Nothing happens.
21All: Character screws it up completely setting entire party back. Everyone gets to throw nearby scrap paper at player.
22Perception: THUMP! Character walks to closest head-level solid object.
Everything else: Character fumbles, but everyone forgives him/her.
23--: Nothing happens.
24All: CHIPS BRINGER! Character's belly rumbles at inopportune moment! Character sure wishes he/she had some chips... Player is urged to bring chips to next session.
25In combat: Character fumbles so mind-bogglingly spectacularly, that he/she is stunned for one round. Nearest ally must yield pep talk. (e.g. "It's ok, Phil! Everyone misses sometimes!")
Everything else: Character fumbles. Nearest ally must yield quick pep talk. (e.g. "It's ok, Bob! Everyone has ther bad days!")
26--: Nothing happens.
27All: Character falls. Most fragile thing in inventory is cracked, broken, shattered, ... for disasterously hilarious effect!
28All: The fickle finger of fate is amused at the character's antics and let's you roll again!
29--: Nothing happens.
30All: Player picks a slot on this list (not this one) and that's what happens. However, player gets to modify, edit, re-write or otherwise change that slot for future fumble awesomeness! Changes require 2/3 group majority.