Terrible GM house rule


Advice

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I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this, but I'm looking for advice, so here it goes...

I'm currently playing in a campaign in which the GM has, what I feel, an absolutely horrible house rule on how critical fumbles are handled. The mechanic runs like this: after a natural one is rolled, roll the d20 again, with all of the same bonuses. If the result of the second roll hits your character, then you suffer an adverse effect.

As a melee character with a high strength, this means I'm scoring that adverse effect (usually dropping my weapon, but can be significant damage) on a roll of 9 or higher.

Everyone else at the table hates the rule, but he won't budge, and his only defense is "this is how I've always done it." Does anyone have any pointers on dealing with a stubborn GM with a cherished, but terrible, house rule?


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Every table I've played at has harsher rules for fumbles than that, so I don't see why your table is complaining.

Sorry, have to disagree. I don't see that House Rule as, "terrible."


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Well reason could work. If not well if rest of the group hates it, well vote with your feet.

So here I try to explain why the rule is bad and see if it helps.

1)So as levels increase BAB does and as such number of attacks. That means that more experienced fighters are more likely to roll 1 on any given turn.
2) Since you confirm it by rolling high, again better fighters are more likely to fumble.
3) This makes the casters even better by comparison since they very rarely have to make attack rolls.
4) You are the only one that likes it. This should be a big tipoff that it isn't a good rule.
5) Real fighters do not suffer a fumble even at 1/400(which would be rolling 1 and then 20 chances) attacks. And in PF when the levels rise even to the mid ones we are talking about people that exceed the cababilities of the greatest ones in history. And with the rules these superhumans are doing 3 stooges routine in combat.

If you absolutely want to have a fumble rule, it should work like this.
1) You only can invoke theath of it 1/rnd-
2) You confirm it against target AC and succeeding means it was a normal failure.

Personally I would not take such a compromise. To me any sort of fumble houserules is imidiete walk away from the table deal. Because it means the GM does not understand the game well enough to be trusted to run it.


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yes, fumbles only hurt martials and get worse as you progress and is a pretty awful thing to add to the game


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At my table, characters suffer adverse effects immediately when rolling a 1 while attacking, no confirmation roll necessary. The effects are drawn from a deck of cards and some are downright crippling like a -4 to attack with that weapon until you fix it.
I really hate that rule, so I appreciate all good arguments against it.

So, "dot", as others put it.


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Rumor has it that someone solved a similar problem by maxing AC and provoking as many AoOs as possible. Strictly rumor, of course, since they're probably as likely to hit you as they are to hit themselves.

...But it's nice for someone else to play the clown once in a while.


It is a terrible rule. It punishes you for rolling well. I had a rule that had you fumble if you missed the enemy AC when you confirm the crit. The important thing is that everyone wanted it.

If nobody wanted it then I would not have done it.

It's also bad because it's rediculous to think that a trained warrior is messing up even 1% of the time.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
wraithstrike wrote:

It is a terrible rule. It punishes you for rolling well. I had a rule that had you fumble if you missed the enemy AC when you confirm the crit. The important thing is that everyone wanted it.

If nobody wanted it then I would not have done it.

It's also bad because it's rediculous to think that a trained warrior is messing up even 1% of the time.

That's our rule too. It was rare enough at low levels, and now that my PCs are 10th level, it is almost unheard of.

It applies to casters as well, but is even less likely to come up (ranged touch attacks just aren't that hard).


we just roll again and -20 from the result if another nat 1 is rolled roll again at -40 ect. then if the net result is -10 something bad but not horrible happens like dropping a weapon or you trip if -20 or less the fumble is more severe however this also means if you roll a natural 1 its not always a miss on the attack; if the enemy has a 25 ac and you roll a natural 1 with our rules and the total result is still higher than that 25 you still hit the target

Lantern Lodge

I've played with a group that had fumbles. Threatened on a natural 1 for an attack

We then rolled a "save" roll to avoid it.

We just rolled a d20, added BAB and weapon focus (this was 3.5, so you may want to include fighter training here in PF). We didn't add STR, or enchantment bonuses from weapons or spells or other such things. If you got a 20 (or for your case, pick a number that works) then you didn't fumble.

This way higher level characters were much less likely to fumble than lower level ones, even if they had more attacks.

If you did fumble then we rolld a d100 and looked up a table based off the rolemaster fumble tables.

If you GM insists on a fumble chance, suggest moving to a save vs fumble, rather than confirming the fumble as a way to better represent high level characters abilities.


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Paizo does have Critical Fail decks, but from what I understand, you only draw a card if your confirmation roll misses. That's the exact opposite of what you said. Perhaps suggest this to your GM. Martials will be less likely to fumble because a hit on the confirmation roll is just a regular miss.

Needing to hit on the confirmation roll should be for Critical Success decks.


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Critical Hit Deck
Critical Fumble Deck

Our group uses both of these during our weekly game.

Our houserules are as follows:
If you roll a natural 1 on an attack roll, you automatically draw from the critical fumble deck. Both NPCs and PCs use this rule, but not summoned creatures.
If you confirm a critical, you can either choose to take the regular damage or draw a critical hit card. PCs use this rule, and named (boss) NPCs, but not unnamed NPCs, monsters or summoned creatures.

This does increase randomness in the game, and whenever a dreaded 1 rears its head, all the rest of the players cackle gleefully and watch as the unlucky victim draws their card. This is especially true for our group's kineticist, as he draws from the spell critical fumbles for his kinetic blasts, which are overall far more unforgiving effects than the rest.

This has led to some particular cards becoming infamous. A player's monk drew a card that prevented use of unarmed strikes for 1d6 rounds several times in a row, for example.

However, everyone in our group takes it in good humour. We've been playing together for years, and we're happy to roll with the dice. The results of the effects can sometimes become part of the character's story. It's never resulted in an encounter becoming unwinnable, but does sometimes mean a character might need rescuing.


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It is a terrible houserule that punishes martials for getting better at what they do. Critical fails in general are terrible. Unfortunately, they are popular.


I do not think it's fun at all if a high level TWF fighter drops his weapon once per minute. That's slapstick if anything.

If I play a martial character at high levels I expect him to be able to wield a weapon for several rounds without high chance to drop it every now and then and honestly I don not understand at all how this can be a fun rule, especially when it punishes you for becoming better at what you do. In addition to this there really is no need to further weaken martial characters at high levels....

Similar for crit effects: it totally cancels out the weapon balance. You would be a fool to not have a high crit weapon when playing with the paizo critical hit deck.

Haha, sorry for that rant guys, but I just feel like these houserules are wicked mechanical wise a n d flavour wise :D


We use the Paizo Critical Hit and Critical Fumble decks and we enjoy them.

Your GM is doing it wrong, though.


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Sounds like you need to start looking for penalties to hit. The more you can stack, the less likely you are to fumble.


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mardaddy wrote:

Every table I've played at has harsher rules for fumbles than that, so I don't see why your table is complaining.

Sorry, have to disagree. I don't see that House Rule as, "terrible."

You realize your defense of the rule is basically exactly the same as his DMs and is a none defense.

Its always been this way doesn't justify anything and if no-one at the game enjoys it, don't do it.

Its terrible because it punishes Martial characters for getting better. it makes them clumsier and more likely to fail the better at fighting they are.


It's a 5% chance per attack roll. I really don't see the big deal. Especially when combined with the Critical Hit Deck, it's likely the players end up coming out ahead. You're typically far more likely to land a critical hit than a critical fumble at high level play.


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Okay let's see.

Full BAB class 4 attacks, haste/speed weapon +1
Now that is 25% chance EVERY 6 seconds.

Add in TWF +3 attacks, and now we are up to 40%

Why not go all the way monk with haste and uses Ki for extra attack and got attack of opportunity in the round, that is 10 attacks so total of 50% chance of fumble every round. This demigod of martial arts on average seriously screws up in this situation 5 times every minute. I have been doing martial arts for over 2 decades and I have not seen the worst white belt do that badly.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

When a 1st level commoner attacking a straw dummy fumbles less than a 20th level fighter attacking an identical straw dummy, something is wrong with the rule.

1st level commoner, full plate, greatsword, 10 Dex, AC 18.

Fumble chance 5%, with a 15% chance of succeeding at the confirmation hit, will take, on average, 133.3 rounds to actually fumble.

20th level fighter, full plate, greatsword, 10 Dex, AC 18

Not even counting Strength score on the hit number, 4 attacks per round, 20% chance of a fumble check, 95% chance of success at the confirmation hit, average 5.26 rounds to actually fumble.

Yes, by this rule a 20th level fighter is 25 times more likely to fumble than an identically equipped 1st level commoner.

Yeah, no.


I like critical fumbles mainly because it makes for some hilarious moments.

That being said, a nat 1 is a miss. Why would you confirm it with a hit? That's like confirming natural 20s only when you miss the target.

You likely arent going to be able to remove critical fumbles unless the entire group tells the GM to piss off, but you should be able to reason with him about how you confirm fumbles.

Sovereign Court

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I would go for stick and carrot.

1. Offer a selection of the best critiques from here.
Chemlak's maths is fairly irrefutable.

2. Offer to do something cool instead (like buy a critical fumble deck).

You then need to be open to your GM's solutions.
Ask them whether they have another idea, or whether you might try playing for a while without any fumbles so that you can have some clear head-space/game-space before deciding on an alternative.

However, make change seem inevitable: make sure the other players will back you up and would all really like a change.

Finally, also be clear that you praise other elements of his game and show how much you enjoy it.
Not on that day, but make sure that you are now (or consistently do it from now) praising the good in the game and showing that you appreciate the efforts which they put in.

If I feel appreciated, I am more open to change.
If changes seems inevitable and popular, I am more likely to accept it.
If I am involved in decision making, I am more likely to accept results.
If a critique feels fair and reasoned, I am more likely to accept it.
If the new thing is cool, I am more likely to accept it.

Finally, finally, don't create pressure for on-the-spot decisions. That's where dropping fumble rules for a bit could be neat.


Thanks for the input, everyone, you've all given me a lot more fuel for hating this rule.

However, I'm still at a loss for how to deal with the GM himself. Whenever I try to discuss this with him, no matter if I'm bring up facts or feelings, he just goes stone-faced and responds to everything with "this is the way I've always done it."

Has anyone had any luck piercing similar walls? If so, how was it done?


Critical fumble rules are made by GMs that have no basic understanding of the math of the game.

In other words, bad GMs.

Don't play with bad GMs. Problem solved.


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Triune wrote:

Critical fumble rules are made by GMs that have no basic understanding of the math of the game.

In other words, bad GMs.

Don't play with bad GMs. Problem solved,

Bad GMs don't become better if everyone gives up on them. I want to help my friend become a better GM, and this is the battle I'm currently fighting.

That said, I do agree with your assessment of fumble rules!


Sometimes you can't make people a better GM. Sometimes they are stuck.

Offer to take a break from his campaign with someone else hosting a few sessions of something. Play a similar leveled session with the change to critical fumbles and see how it plays.


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No gaming is better than bad gaming. And since rest of the group seems to think along your lines, it only means no gaming for the GM. Seriously that attitude is a sign of horrible horrible GM, not to mention that he implemented fumble rules another bad GM move, then he made the houserule badly even by the standards of people who like fumble rules. That means he does not understand how math of the game works or doesn't care. Either way horrible GMing. By all account that person should not be behind the screen. So leave.

If you see as the game worth it despite all this. Then simply state. "That is not an acceptable argument." Then you can give any example you wish. "We did not use to let women vote." "We used to make human sacrifices." Or something along those lines.


Wultram wrote:
Then you can give any example you wish. "We did not use to let women vote." "We used to make human sacrifices." Or something along those lines.

Oof, that's a quick way to make everyone stop having fun. That's only a small step below invoking Godwin's law. Keep comparisons game-related, if possible.


GeraintElberion wrote:
I would go for stick and carrot.

Thanks, GeraintElberion! I will try to make this happen!


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
JDLPF wrote:


However, everyone in our group takes it in good humour. We've been playing together for years, and we're happy to roll with the dice. The results of the effects can sometimes become part of the character's story. It's never resulted in an encounter becoming unwinnable, but does sometimes mean a character might need rescuing.

This is a very important element of critical fumble results. You need good humored buy-in.


Nixitur wrote:
Wultram wrote:
Then you can give any example you wish. "We did not use to let women vote." "We used to make human sacrifices." Or something along those lines.
Oof, that's a quick way to make everyone stop having fun. That's only a small step below invoking Godwin's law. Keep comparisons game-related, if possible.

Some people need to be treated with silk gloves. In my experience idiots require sledgehammer to the face. It also demonstrates the stupidity of the 'argument' they are making. Now if this was first time OP had was bringing the issue up, I might not go that far. But that ain't the situation.


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I have always opposed critical fumble rules (beyond auto miss) emphatically and vociferously.
1) An individual character will roll more d20 rolls than any individual NPCs, which means that each character has a higher probability of rolling a fumble than any individual NPC.
2) A character is a lasting member of the campaign while each individual NPC/monster is usually a fleeting encounter frequently only exists for a single scene.

Therefore, player characters are getting more critical fumbles than any NPC/monster, but fumbles frequently have a greater effect on a PC than a fleeting, single-scene NPC.

They also just seem ridiculous. Watch any trained professional at their area of expertise. Even when they fail the worst, I.e. critical fumble, do they ever hit themselves or anything as similarly silly?


Rawhead wrote:

Thanks for the input, everyone, you've all given me a lot more fuel for hating this rule.

However, I'm still at a loss for how to deal with the GM himself. Whenever I try to discuss this with him, no matter if I'm bring up facts or feelings, he just goes stone-faced and responds to everything with "this is the way I've always done it."

Has anyone had any luck piercing similar walls? If so, how was it done?

Yeah unless your whole party puts the foot down, and decides not to play, you're not gonna sway him. And maybe not even then. Did you try showing him this thread?


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But seriously though roll a Mobile Fighter with a huge armor class who tries to provoke as many AoO's as possible by running around like a crazy person with Mobility. Get Spring Attack while you're at it. Make sure your armor scales so that you'll never be able to hit yourself, with a shield and everything.

If a GM won't budge on a dumb rule, then it is at that point fair game for the players to minmax with that rule in mind.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Rawhead wrote:

.

I'm currently playing in a campaign in which the GM has, what I feel, an absolutely horrible house rule on how critical fumbles are handled. The mechanic runs like this: after a natural one is rolled, roll the d20 again, with all of the same bonuses. If the result of the second roll hits your character, then you suffer an adverse effect.

The rule should be if they miss again on the confirm, THEN that should be a critical fumble.

Hitting on the confirmation makes no sense. It should work like the opposite of the critical hit rules.

Crit Hit Threat
Confirm Threat with hit
(Essentially having to hit TWICE)

Crit Fumble threat
Confirm Threat with miss
(Essentially having to miss TWICE)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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Here's my litmus test for critical fumble rules:

20 basic city guards, 1st level warriors, practice against wooden dummies for 10 minutes. In that time they make 2000 attack rolls against an AC of 5. They roll a perfectly average distribution of rolls on the d20 - so there will be 100 natural 1s rolled, and if you have confirmation rolls on 1s, there will be 5 "double 1s."

If at the end of your 10 minutes of practice against inanimate targets, any of your guard s are wounded, your fumble rules have a serious problem. If any of the guards are dying, you have a really bad problem.

Next Fred the 20th level TWF fighter who gets 7 attacks a round does the same practice. He makes 700 attack rolls with the same distribution, including 35 natural 1s(and 1.75 double 1s). If Fred ends up wounded, dying , or with a broken or dropped weapon your fumble system has serious problems, as the world's best, most skilled warrior can't even spar against a motionless stick without looking like an idiot.

Rare is the fumble system that can pass these criteria.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

On the matter of convincing your GM to listen to you, I find in general the best way to get people to hear your point of view is to first make sure that they know you understand their point of view.

So I'd start by asking the GM what he likes about the rules and what he thinks it brings to the game. And don't just ask the question, but actually listen to and try and understand the answer, and communicate back your understanding of his answer to him. I'd bet he will be way more opening to listen to you if you do that. There is plenty of ammunition above to get him to reconsider the effects of this rule if you can first get him to listen.

I'd also suggest considering a compromise rule. It seems to me that quite a few of the issues above would be considerably mitigated by simple reversing the mechanics of the second role. Rather than it being a roll to 'confirm the fumble' having it be a roll to recover from the fumble. You roll again, and if the second roll hits the original targets AC you recover from the fumble and other than the attack being a miss, there are no ill effects.

I'm personally not a big fan of any fumble rule, but at least this version would have the effect of making better warrior less likely to fumble, not more, and also making it so more formidable opponents (in terms of AC anyway) are more likely to cause a fumble (which makes some sense, Pathfinder doesn't have a lot of 'active defense' but the concept of a good opponent getting you off balance, etc.) so I think that works well. I'd probably refine the rule just a bit, making the 'recover' roll always be at the highest base attack, no the iterative, as I think that would even further mitigate any negative effects of more attacks = more fumbles.

I expect you GM is really going to want to keep some sort of fumble rule, and it is entirely possible that when you listen to him you will at least see some good reasons for it, even if you don't agree that on a whole the negative outweigh the benefits but the above modification keeps a lot of the feel of what he already has while mathematically being a lot less punishing to characters, particularly skilled martials.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Dave Justus has some good advice. And when you look at the GM's rule and any alternative, you might want to lay out some objectives. This one seems particularly important:
Should the rule make it more likely for a high-level warrior to fumble if he rolls a 1 than a low-level warrior when he does the same?

If he says that a higher level warrior should be less likely to fumble, then you've pretty much got him on revising his own rule. And if he says they should be more likely, you can ask him why the hell that should make any sense.


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Fumble systems work just fine in dice pool systems, where you roll more dice the more competent you are, and you compare the relative numbers of bad results and good ones (which are more probable.)

Fumble systems do not work very well in "roll one die and compare it to a target number" systems.


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I very much dislike the all the comments saying people who use fumble rules are having WRONGBADGUN. I play with the fumble deck because my players wanted to play with it.

It works for us and we enjoy it, having more fun with it than we did without it.

It only becomes an issue when people stop enjoying it.

Please an we try to frame our comments in this light rather than bashing people who use and enjoy the fumble rules.

Rant over...

The only thing I feel OP can do is sit down and attempt to discuss this with the GM. Explain that sometimes things change and it can be better or worse. It might be worth suggesting a trial period where everyone can decide what they are enjoying


Agreed with J4RH34D. Fumble rules aren't inherently bad. Done well, they add excitement and some spontaneity to an encounter. Some of my best encounters were based around a critical fumble. Now I really dislike the idea of more likely to fumble the better you are. Dave Justus gave some great advice and I recommend following it


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Alright I will admit fumble rules aren't INHERENTLY bad. It just so happens that in the history of rpgs not one person has managed to write a set of fumble rules that weren't horrible. I suppose in the corner case scenario of 3 stooges rpg, it could be made to work.

Before that happens for all practical purposes they are bad rules, the same way that lot of people enjoy bubblegum-pop, but it I will still call it out as bad music.


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Wultram wrote:

Okay let's see.

Full BAB class 4 attacks, haste/speed weapon +1
Now that is 25% chance EVERY 6 seconds.

Add in TWF +3 attacks, and now we are up to 40%

Why not go all the way monk with haste and uses Ki for extra attack and got attack of opportunity in the round, that is 10 attacks so total of 50% chance of fumble every round. This demigod of martial arts on average seriously screws up in this situation 5 times every minute. I have been doing martial arts for over 2 decades and I have not seen the worst white belt do that badly.

Actually, it's still 5% no matter how many times you roll the dice, since the dice has no memory and each roll is independent of each other.

"Chance"=1-P(A) where P(A)=(19/20)^1 or simply =1/20


"Because I've always done it that way" or "it's always been that way" are terrible justifications for bad policy. Tell your friend he should run for US congress.


im in a game as well where we use a similar rule but we don't attack ourselves we are still attacking the enemy and if we roll a one with a follow up attack that misses the enemy again then its a confirmed crit not sure why they have it attacking yourself instead of confirming against the enemy.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
LankyOgre wrote:


They also just seem ridiculous. Watch any trained professional at their area of expertise. Even when they fail the worst, I.e. critical fumble, do they ever hit themselves or anything as similarly silly?

Yeah some of the effects can be a bit much but I watch a fair amount of Boxing and MMA and even at the top fighters can misjudge the distance on a punch or kick. or shoot in for a takedown at the wrong time and catch a knee to the face or an elbow to the forehead and get temporarily stunned. It's less likely to happen at the championship levels but it absolutely DOES happen.

I'm thinking eliminating the self-harm fumbles (which do make competent fighters seem goofy) but implementing more bonuses/opportunities for opponents to capitalize on mistakes would be better.


A possible correction for the "making a ton of attacks via TWF and the like becomes punitive" is to have the "did you fumble" check made at your full attack bonus rather than the attack bonus the roll that threatened a fumble worked.

So the algorithm could work like:
- Roll a 1
- Roll your highest attack bonus against the enemy's AC
- If you hit, the roll is just a miss.
- If you miss, the roll is a fumble.

This seems to add extra steps for something that probably shouldn't come up much, but at least seems to solve the issue for monks, TWFers, and the like.


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On a statistical note

The probability per round of critically fumbling at least once is
1 - (probability of not fumbling per roll)^number of rolls per round

In example. Supposing you fumble on every roll of nat 1 and have 4 attacks per round
1-(19/20)^4=1-(.95)^4= 1-.8145(more decimals)=.18549375

Yes the rolls are independent, however the probability of something occurring within a period of time given the number of chances is a bit different and not additive


Katapesh Fried Chicken wrote:
Wultram wrote:

Okay let's see.

Full BAB class 4 attacks, haste/speed weapon +1
Now that is 25% chance EVERY 6 seconds.

Add in TWF +3 attacks, and now we are up to 40%

Why not go all the way monk with haste and uses Ki for extra attack and got attack of opportunity in the round, that is 10 attacks so total of 50% chance of fumble every round. This demigod of martial arts on average seriously screws up in this situation 5 times every minute. I have been doing martial arts for over 2 decades and I have not seen the worst white belt do that badly.

Actually, it's still 5% no matter how many times you roll the dice, since the dice has no memory and each roll is independent of each other.

"Chance"=1-P(A) where P(A)=(19/20)^1 or simply =1/20

Each roll has a 5% chance, but the chance that at least 1 roll is a 1 when you make 10 rolls (while not the actual 50% listed) is significantly higher than 5%.


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ShinHakkaider wrote:


The rule should be if they miss again on the confirm, THEN that should be a critical fumble.

Hitting on the confirmation makes no sense. It should work like the opposite of the critical hit rules.

Crit Hit Threat
Confirm Threat with hit
(Essentially having to hit TWICE)

Crit Fumble threat
Confirm Threat with miss
(Essentially having to miss TWICE)

This is how my group does it as well. Works out fine. Drastically reduces fumble chance, but still happens on occasion.

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