Terrible GM house rule


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Sagiso wrote:

I've been reading this thread a bit and I'm actually tempted to suggest the spell fumble rules to our GM next time we play. The thing stopping me is that I play mostly support casters, and I highly doubt that my melee friends who are naturally prone to those nat 1s would appreciate my Heal or significant buffing spells being fumbled away when they really wanted them.

Especially the Heals.

We go through a lot of them.

Also props to the barbarian poster. I'm not sure if I understood all that was said but I still have this odd feeling of having gotten royally schooled.

make it be offensive spells only that can fumble all thought i still think fumbles are a bad idea


Ugh, fumbles. No. Just no.


Sagiso wrote:

I've been reading this thread a bit and I'm actually tempted to suggest the spell fumble rules to our GM next time we play. The thing stopping me is that I play mostly support casters, and I highly doubt that my melee friends who are naturally prone to those nat 1s would appreciate my Heal or significant buffing spells being fumbled away when they really wanted them.

Especially the Heals.

We go through a lot of them.

Also props to the barbarian poster. I'm not sure if I understood all that was said but I still have this odd feeling of having gotten royally schooled.

Buffs and healing inherently don't have a roll to them, unless for concentration. The fumbles are meant to say what happens with an attack roll. The fighter isn't looking at the target during his last swing, so he misses and the enemy seizes the opportunity to knock his weapon out of his hand. (Simply, fighter drops his weapon). The magic spell already happened. It's there. Fumble and the wizard sent it off in the wrong direction.

Spell fumbles don't make sense to me to roll on a magic failure chart because the magic already happened. The wizard already cast acid splash. That part is done. He messed up and sent it flying too short and hit his fighter instead (or the ground) does make sense.


Weapon fumbles make no sense logically. The chances of someone skilled with a weapon hitting themselves with their weapon is astronomically small.

So spell fumbles make as much sense as weapon fumbles.


We use fumble rolls at our table, though we've all agreed to do it, so there is no 'fumbles suck' complaints. We use a critical hit deck and fumble deck. You roll a 1 on an attack roll (or someone rolls a 20 on a save), you must roll again to confirm the fumble. You fail to hit the target again, or they make their saving throw again, fumble is confirmed.

Only PCs and named NPCs get access to the crit deck. All other crits are as normal. The crit deck makes things much more interesting.


SorrySleeping wrote:
Buffs and healing inherently don't have a roll to them, unless for concentration. The fumbles are meant to say what happens with an attack roll.

Well, if we were house-ruling in spell fumbles as a mechanic, we could also add attack rolls for things like healing spells. After all, if you're trying to touch an ally in the heat of battle, that could easily go wrong. It should be fairly easy - target flat-footed Touch AC or something like that. Then you can roll a d20 to do it, and that would allow healing spells to have both critical successes and critical failures.

Thus, a natural 20 would allow you to heal twice the normal amount - that would make healing a bit more exciting.
A natural 1 would, of course, be instantly fatal for everyone involved.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
SorrySleeping wrote:
Buffs and healing inherently don't have a roll to them, unless for concentration. The fumbles are meant to say what happens with an attack roll.

Well, if we were house-ruling in spell fumbles as a mechanic, we could also add attack rolls for things like healing spells. After all, if you're trying to touch an ally in the heat of battle, that could easily go wrong. It should be fairly easy - target flat-footed Touch AC or something like that. Then you can roll a d20 to do it, and that would allow healing spells to have both critical successes and critical failures.

Thus, a natural 20 would allow you to heal twice the normal amount - that would make healing a bit more exciting.
A natural 1 would, of course, be instantly fatal for everyone involved.

"Huh. Your healing spell managed to travel halfway across the world and revive the ancient snake-deity Ydersius."

"What kind of fumble table are you using?"


Ventnor wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
SorrySleeping wrote:
Buffs and healing inherently don't have a roll to them, unless for concentration. The fumbles are meant to say what happens with an attack roll.

Well, if we were house-ruling in spell fumbles as a mechanic, we could also add attack rolls for things like healing spells. After all, if you're trying to touch an ally in the heat of battle, that could easily go wrong. It should be fairly easy - target flat-footed Touch AC or something like that. Then you can roll a d20 to do it, and that would allow healing spells to have both critical successes and critical failures.

Thus, a natural 20 would allow you to heal twice the normal amount - that would make healing a bit more exciting.
A natural 1 would, of course, be instantly fatal for everyone involved.

"Huh. Your healing spell managed to travel halfway across the world and revive the ancient snake-deity Ydersius."

"What kind of fumble table are you using?"

the same kind as most funble systems were a character with 20 levels in fighter, swashbuckler, ranger and monk(for a total of 80 levels) will not only cut their own arm off but also decapitate themselves on the roll of a natural 1

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Lady-J wrote:
the same kind as most funble systems were a character with 20 levels in fighter, swashbuckler, ranger and monk(for a total of 80 levels) will not only cut their own arm off but also decapitate themselves on the roll of a natural 1

I have seen fumble systems where two armies of 10000 clashing for a few minutes results in hundreds of soldiers decapitating themselves.


ryric wrote:
Lady-J wrote:
the same kind as most funble systems were a character with 20 levels in fighter, swashbuckler, ranger and monk(for a total of 80 levels) will not only cut their own arm off but also decapitate themselves on the roll of a natural 1
I have seen fumble systems where two armies of 10000 clashing for a few minutes results in hundreds of soldiers decapitating themselves.

Not counting the infernal, towering, all-powerful, world-terrorizing demon, the Balor, who has a 1/20 chance of comically whipping itself, if not cutting its own head off with the flaming sword.

Have no fear of the terrible demon, my friends! Just send some fodder its way, and it's going to fumble and maim or kill itself very soon.


Wultram's analogy:
Wultram wrote:

Well you know what let's keep with the NBA and free-throws analogy.

All numbers assume perfect distribution on d20. There is also some rounding of numbers.

Michael Jordan had a 83,5% success rate during his career. If we round that to 85% to fit with d20 system, here is what we get.

So with the assumption of perfect distribution of rolls, the DC is so that he would fail on rolls of 1 to 3. So one third of the failed ones threathened a fumble.

He made 8790 free-throws during his career, which means that 440 were ones that threathened fumble.

And since we established that for the purposes of this example he will confirm the fumble 15% of the time, we have 66 fumbles during his career.

Now I am not a basketball fan, but I am pretty sure he did not have a massive failure 66 times during free throws.

I'm fascinated by your analogy. I started play with a group that has a fumble rule of "on a nat-1, you roll a confirmation die; on a 5 or less, you fumble." Now, with this system at least an increasing to-hit bonus doesn't make you MORE likely to fumble! And everyone in the game I play in accepts it, so I'm not going to ask the GM to change it. However, I in turn have become a GM, so the rules could change for my game...

This system produces a 1.25% chance to fail spectacularly per attack. 110 free-throws over MJ's career. Of course, that's in the fog of war, which I'm fairly certain pro-basketball free-throws are not. (My Profession (basketball-fan) skill is untrained, so I couldn't roll on that one.) But I can check wiki with the best of them, and apparently Air Jordan's pro career (counting the years after he left OUR team) lasted 14 years. With 80 to 90 games per season, if I have that right. An average of 8 spectacular fails per season does sound harsh, but 1 out of 10 games doesn't sound that hideous... provided the opponents are allowed to move the basket while he's aiming! But I could make that "you fumble on a confirmation roll of a (second) nat-1," for a 0.25% chance to fumble per attack. That would amount to 22 fumbles over Jordan's entire career; 1 or 2 per season, or rather 2% of his games. Given perhaps literal fog of war, is this a horrible rule??

And is "you hit yourself" or "you hit an ally" actually worse than "you drop your weapon?" (It's certainly better than "you break your weapon!") I've been assuming that damage is kinder, since it doesn't take you out of the action for a round or more. Perhaps I should permit a Reflex save to negate the damage? Would some of you still be howling at "you lose your dex bonus to AC for the round" (as you scramble to recover from leaving yourself wide open for a second)?

I'm asking these questions in good faith, as a new GM looking to evaluate the toolbox I got handed.


SorrySleeping wrote:

The magic spell already happened. It's there. Fumble and the wizard sent it off in the wrong direction.

Spell fumbles don't make sense to me to roll on a magic failure chart because the magic already happened. The wizard already cast acid splash. That part is done. He messed up and sent it flying too short and hit his fighter instead (or the ground) does make sense.

So, your casters don't need to perform verbal or somatic components, and casting is instantaneous? Do they need to make Concentration checks if threatened? No? The house rules you're describing, to me, seem even stranger than fumble rules.


bitter lily wrote:
And is "you hit yourself" or "you hit an ally" actually worse than "you drop your weapon?"

Well, "you hit an ally" could cause you to kill your best friend. That seems worse than having to pick up your sword. Losing your Dex bonus for a round, on the other hand, sounds pretty reasonable.

I tend to think of Pathfinder in heroic-fiction terms more than in terms of realism or basketball. How often would it be acceptable for Legolas to drop his bow, or shoot himself in the foot, or put an arrow in Aragorn's backside? Once for every ten orcs he kills? It still sounds wrong to me.

My experimental system for critical fumble confirmation is:

You make a second attack roll at full BAB.
Enemies within reach also make an attack roll at full BAB.
If any enemy gets higher, they cause you to fumble. Otherwise nothing happens.

It's a bit complicated, but high-level characters are unlikely to fumble unless there's a skilled opponent there to take advantage of their slight errors. It eliminates the 'defeated by a training dummy' problem, and if you lose your sword it at least seems like there's a reason for it beyond complete idiocy.


AM BARBARIAN wrote:

[...]BARBARIAN POINT OUT THAT RULE SUCH AS THIS AM MAKING BARBARIAN NERFED SO CASTYS ABLE KEEP UP, BARBARIAN LITERALLY NOT CAPABLE OF NOT HITTING BARBARIAN, AM ALSO GENERALLY UNABLE NOT KILL BARBARIAN BECAUSE BARBARIAN AM HITTING THAT HARD, NOT TO MENTION QUESTIONABLE INTERACTION WITH STUNNING STRIKE, SPELL SUNDER, AND KNOCKBACK AM MEANING BARBARIAN MAYBE NEED MAKE FORT SAVE UNDER THIS WHILE HAVING SHOVED SELF AWAY FROM ENEMY BY HITTING WEIRD. BARBARIAN MAKE SAVE ON LIKE TWO SO WHAT AM EVEN THE PROBLEM HERE BESIDES GROSS VIOLATION OF PHYSICS, BUT HEY. THAT AM HOW BARBARIAN ROLL.

[...]

P.S. MAYBE HAVE GM READ THAT ONE SHORT STORY ABOUT THAT LOTTERY. AM ALWAYS BEING A LOTTERY, SO AM STONING ONE PERSON EVERY YEAR BECAUSE WHY CHANGING IT? THAT AM GREAT STORY ABOUT WHY LAWFUL ALIGNMENT AM TERRIBLE PLAN, AND HONEST EXAMINATION WITH EVALUATION AM IMPORTANT.

Wow, you got worked up about this! I've never seen you use so many wordy things before! And looong ones, too. We certainly shouldn't have tables in which you reliably off yourself 5% of the time!

I am curious: what would happen with a rule that gave you a Reflex save to negate the damage?

Bringing up The Lottery by Shirley Jackson was an interesting tactic for the OP, and it does seem like the thread lost sight of the OP's request for tactics. I have to admit I skipped a number of pages in the middle of all of the conflagration. (Bad poster, I know. No donut.) Has the OP been responding? Have they addressed the fumble rule with their GM?

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Sounds like the GM should probably take a step back and read the room. When the entire table hates a house rule, a compromise is in order at the very least.


I think the biggest question to ask when considering this is, "What is the point of this rule? What am I wanting this to accomplish?"

Answering that will really help to know what to do.

Like if you want martials to be a threat to allies and to attack teammates a lot say you fumble if you miss AC by 3 or more, auto hit your nearest ally, and auto confirm it as a crit.

If you want higher leveled martials to look like noobs and be worse than low level you implement a system one way. If you want high leveled to be less likely to fumble it's a different system.

So before implementing any system, decide what the goal is.


Rolling a one and then having to confirm a fumble and then having to make a reflex save seems like a really good way to slow down combat (an already laborious process) in order that you might apply a anti heroic slapstick debuff. sounds annoying.

also.

Matthew Downie wrote:


I tend to think of Pathfinder in heroic-fiction terms more than in terms of realism or basketball. How often would it be acceptable for Legolas to drop his bow, or shoot himself in the foot, or put an arrow in Aragorn's backside? Once for every ten orcs he kills? It still sounds wrong to me..

This


We use the crit and fumble decks in my game. However, if you take damage I describe it more that you let your guard down and the enemy took advantage. You take the damage as the card says, but with no rider effects from your weapon or abilities. For spells, it is described as the spell reacting negatively because you made a mistake and couldn't control the magical energy. Everyone likes it, and it doesn't get used very often. Not very common for my group to miss the same target twice, let alone roll a 1 and then miss to confirm.


Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:

Rolling a one and then having to confirm a fumble and then having to make a reflex save seems like a really good way to slow down combat (an already laborious process) in order that you might apply a anti heroic slapstick debuff. sounds annoying.

also.

Matthew Downie wrote:


I tend to think of Pathfinder in heroic-fiction terms more than in terms of realism or basketball. How often would it be acceptable for Legolas to drop his bow, or shoot himself in the foot, or put an arrow in Aragorn's backside? Once for every ten orcs he kills? It still sounds wrong to me..
This

The thing is, the entire table turns to the potential fumbler to watch the confirmation roll. It grips them in a way that a normal turn would not. I'll think about it.

As for what Matthew said, there definitely are different styles of fiction. I should also think about what kind of story I'm telling, yes.


Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Rolling a one and then having to confirm a fumble and then having to make a reflex save seems like a really good way to slow down combat

It only slows down one attack in twenty. It's not the biggest concern here.


I mean given the amount of time people have spent talking about two weapon fighters and archers and the amount of rolls they have to make, I fail to see how it isn't relevant. + all the rolls enemies have to make...


I hear "Everyone likes it", but it could be they tolerate it because that is what the table rule is and would prefer no fumbles.

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nicholas storm wrote:
I hear "Everyone likes it", but it could be they tolerate it because that is what the table rule is and would prefer no fumbles.

Is "everyone likes it" what the GM is telling you, or what the other players say when no one else is around? Peer pressure is a heck of a thing, and other players who complain might be getting told that you like the fumble system.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
JDLPF wrote:
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.

I would disagree the consquences favour the GM both the crit and fumble deck. Monsters usually end up dead, the questions is how many resources they consume in the process. Every encounter involves the PCs but a given monster usually shows up once. So weather the pcs suffer a crippling crit from a monster, or endure a crippling fumble from themselves they live with the consequnces, where as monsters exit the narrative.


PC vs 2 orcs

pc looks and thinks he can take 4 orc hits before he should retreat.

pc moves and hits an orc, both orcs hit him.

pc kills that orc and the other hits him.

pc attacks but fumbles and hits himself, orc hits and kills the PC now that his health was lower than expected.

PC vs 2 orcs

pc looks and thinks he can take 4 orc hits before he should retreat.

pc moves and hits an orc, both orcs fumble and hit themselves and one dies.

pc attacks orc and orc hits him.

pc kills orc.

If no one fumbles PC needs some healing. If enemies fumble PC may need less healing. If PC fumbles he could be dead unexpectedly. So sure, more enemies may hurt themselves, but when they were going to die anyways it's not that big a boon to the players. When the players are suddenly in a bad spot because of a fumble it matters a lot more, even if it's less frequent than the enemies fumbles.


Lemartes wrote:
So to sum it up I thing we agree more than we disagree. Agree? :)

Yup.

I like the FF SW system as well. It's basically a similar feature as I outlined from Dungeon World (which is a Powered-by-the-Apocalypse game). The dice mechanics inherently contribute to a better system that leaves room for these kinds of mechanics. Star Wars has an interesting thing where skill doesn't prevent fumbles, but you can crit and fumble on the same attack, which in some ways counteracts (but doesn't cancel) the effect of the fumble. You cause both consequences to happen.

In general I find d20 systems very inelegant when attaching conditions to specific numbers on the die, but building the rest of the system as just using the die as a variable to add to a bonus. In essence, the 1 and 20 rules are completely different than the standard d20+value, especially when you allow values beyond a certain range. I only still like rolling d20's because of habit and conditioning, otherwise they're clunky and annoying to design around IMO.

Someone used basketball earlier as an example, with airballs being their choice. Those aren't the example to use though, rather it's the defender who falls over and has his "ankles broken" that should be used. Occasionally a player on offense will make a sideways move that catches a defender off guard and cause them to trip and fall. A lot of things contribute to this, probably one of the most likely culprits is actually sweat from other players making the floor slippery. It does happen at the NBA level and there's montages of clips assembled on youtube. It's high stakes basketball and the opposing players are extremely fast, so that contributes as well. I think you'd find though that if we actually studied the rate of incidents, we'd see more slips and falls at the college level, and even more at the high school level. Even though pro-level basketball includes more drives and kicks than college/high school (you could use each drive to the hoop as one "attack" in this regard") I'd predict the number of falls per game is lower. We'll see a lower % of falls per drive, plus lower % of falls per game (per attack/per round respectively).

Higher level fighters should be rewarded with either static, or reduced chances of fumbles. For example, if a fighter rolls a 1 and manages to "save" the fumble (on the secondary roll it doesn't trigger), if they then no longer have to check on an additional 1's during that action, I think that would be a good way to do it. The additional attacks might still mean a very slight increase in fumbles, but it'll be significantly less than having to avoid it on all.

I think good game design allows players to be rewarded in the area they favor. If a player favors martial combatants, martial combat should feel rewarding to that player. Fumbles can be amusing and rewarding, but usually when used sparingly. If getting better at martial combat means you also get punished for it, well... that's not a reward. Like I said earlier, in a d20 game where a GM implemented a harsh fumble rule (if you rolled a 1, you lost all the rest of your attacks, no confirmation check), dual-wielding characters disappeared forever. That GM later complained that players weren't joining the ranks of these cool fighting units he put in the fiction that were dual-wielders and couldn't understand why, but by 11th level with 6 attacks, you have a 27% chance to roll at least one 1 every round. The players hadn't done the math to figure it out, but they intuitively felt they were rolling more 1's and quickly abandoned those characters.

I would generally agree that a 2-3% delta is pretty small and probably not a big deal. I still think it's bad design to have it going in the wrong direction. Also, we should seriously consider what it's incentivizing and deincentivizing.

Anecdotally, I was playing 5E and had a GM include hitting allies when rolling 1's on ranged attacks. I've basically switched to only playing halflings because I just don't want to deal with that.

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