Ignore handringing by Martial characters. Critical failures NEED to count for meele & ranged attack rolls in Pathfinder 2E!


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The Exchange

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Yeah, I said it!

I really like the tiered concept of critical failure, failure, success and critical success in Pathfinder. This system needs to be at the heart of all aspects of combat, not just spell saves and skill checks! Combat is the closes thing that approaches pure chaos and the dice rolls need to reflect this. Here are two examples I can think of for critical failures. Let me know if you can think of others.

A) A critical failure results in the loss of one action. If no other actions are available this round, this missed action carries over to the next round.

B) A critical fumble results in the fumblerer exposing herself to extreme danger and risk. The next single attack roll against her is a critical hit if it succeedes. If the attack misses or no attacks are made against the fumbler then the effects of the critical fumble expire at the start of the next round.

Liberty's Edge

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Due to the nature of RPGs, any critical failure system will effect PCs (who make more attack rolls than NPCs) far more than they will any individual NPC. This makes players feel incompetent and makes the game less fun.

So...no, this is not a good idea and in no way necessary to make the system work.


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Now propose a similar and equally punishing system for casters.


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Now propose a system that will be fun to play.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:

Due to the nature of RPGs, any critical failure system will effect PCs (who make more attack rolls than NPCs) far more than they will any individual NPC. This makes players feel incompetent and makes the game less fun.

So...no, this is not a good idea and in no way necessary to make the system work.

Well said. Crit fails always seem to effect martial characters far more than spellcasters and I can't see that as a good thing


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Yeah, no. Those are both awful suggestions. Missing is a bad enough punishment in and of itself without turning the Martial PC's into incompetent losers every time they encounter something dangerous.


While fumbles can be fun in some systems, I don't think it fits well for PF - at least not as a core rule.

Critical success is easy - you do extra damage and maybe derive some other benefit as determined by the specific properties of the weapon being used so sword, club, bow or javelin are all roughly similar in this regard.

With a critical failure, however, you need to find something worse than missing, but also either universally applicable to all weapons or create a series of different possibilities for different weapons. Neither is particularly appealing.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The worst accceptable thing I can think of doing with a fumble on an attack is causing the attacker to lose his next action. A more likely approach would be to do no damage at all even if the attacker has a "damage on a miss" ability -- in fact, I think some Paizo folks have mentioned that as a possibility.

Note that fumbling a saving throw is the equivalent of a critical hit on an attack roll, so double damage on a failed saving throw is fine.


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Yeah, it was implied when he was talking about it that the damage on a miss feat was only for misses, not critical misses.

Thankfully they've already said that critical misses on attack rolls won't actually inherently do anything bad to do you - all they do is make you vulnerable to opponent reactions which can proc from a critical miss. Which is totally fine to me.


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Critical failures do count- they provide an opportunity for something that triggers on a crit failure to trigger.

If you want them to be more punitive, include more things that trigger on critical failures on attack rolls.


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TarkXT wrote:
Now propose a similar and equally punishing system for casters.

Critical success on a saving throw causes the spell to rebound and affect the spellcaster.

I hope that neither suggestion ever happens. It doesn't sound fun to play.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Mekkis wrote:
TarkXT wrote:
Now propose a similar and equally punishing system for casters.

Critical success on a saving throw causes the spell to rebound and affect the spellcaster.

I hope that neither suggestion ever happens. It doesn't sound fun to play.

As a general rule, no.

As an effect of a critical success on a saving throw made by a target protected by a spell like Spell Turning, why not?


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How about we DONT punish every playing for merely playing the game? How the hell is a game that punishes you for the most basic action in D&D going to be fun?

What purpose does this even serve? Punish players for combat in a combat heavy system? Making encounters more dramatic?...

I dont see it at all, and honestly fumbles have never been a fun mechanic to play, its just slogging down a already slow combat phase.


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The only way I could see it working is if it was very minor inconveniences and their would have to be penalties for spell casters too. I think the fighter feat where a miss deals damage and a crit miss is a miss is about as close to that as I would like to see. maybe on a crit failure a like -2 ac penalty for a round or a -2 penalty on your next attack. That is about as far as I would go.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Due to the nature of RPGs, any critical failure system will effect PCs (who make more attack rolls than NPCs) far more than they will any individual NPC. This makes players feel incompetent and makes the game less fun.

Having employed the Crit and Fumble decks ever since they released, and had ad hoc'ed in fumbles before that, I must say that I've never had an issue with that. Heck, I even employ a houserule where a fumble breaks off a full attack, and it's never become an "issue".

Since Fumbles require a confirmation roll, they're actually exceedingly rare in our experience.

But due to how PF2nd handles crits and fumbles (namely making them much more common), I for the most part will have to put the cards and houserules away for the playtest.


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You know, if I wanted to play a cartoonish farce starring incompetent buffoons... I would actually use one of the several rulesets I own designed for simulating actual cartoons.

People who believe that critical fumble rules are somehow "realistic" should really avoid getting into knife fights.


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OP, it would only be fair if critical failures can happen on all spell casts too. Cast a fireball but under pressure you botch the process and it detonates inside your mouth. Whoops!


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FangDragon wrote:
OP, it would only be fair if critical failures can happen on all spell casts too. Cast a fireball but under pressure you botch the process and it detonates inside your mouth. Whoops!

Don't forget WALKING!!! Athletic checks for everyone if you want to move! Breaking a leg while stepping back 5' is totally cool and interesting! ;)


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graystone wrote:
FangDragon wrote:
OP, it would only be fair if critical failures can happen on all spell casts too. Cast a fireball but under pressure you botch the process and it detonates inside your mouth. Whoops!
Don't forget WALKING!!! Athletic checks for everyone if you want to move! Breaking a leg while stepping back 5' is totally cool and interesting! ;)

Gonna have to disagree with you here. I don't think that would be cool or interesting. Also Just because I occasionally botch my walk check is no reason that my character should have too!


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I always refuse to play in any game that uses critical fumbles. They're just plain stupid. The only way I'd even think of accepting them is if they required 3 1's in a row. (1 in 8,000 odds.) And even then it seems too likely.


1 in 8000 seems pretty unlikely to me.


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FaerieGodfather wrote:
You know, if I wanted to play a cartoonish farce starring incompetent buffoons...

I can only ascribe such vehemence to either having never used the rules, but dislikes the idea so they're by default the devil, or simply doing it wrong (applying fumbles on every failed roll, forgetting confirmation rolls, etc).


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I'm against anything that would make my character look stupid outside of either me choosing to let it happen or an intelligence failure on my part

Liberty's Edge

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LuZeke wrote:
FaerieGodfather wrote:
You know, if I wanted to play a cartoonish farce starring incompetent buffoons...
I can only ascribe such vehemence to either having never used the rules, but dislikes the idea so they're by default the devil, or simply doing it wrong (applying fumbles on every failed roll, forgetting confirmation rolls, etc).

Or having played with more punishing fumble rules. There have been a variety of versions of those over the years for all sorts of games.


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In my days if I rolled a 1 I had to accompany the roll with a d100 roll on a 99 I killed an ally on a 100 I killed myself. I was not fond of this... well except the one time the ally had it coming.


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After years of arguing i did manage to get my GM to stop using fumble rules. It was just bad, you could lose your weapon, drop prone, cause a attack of oppertunity and the like and a lot of these situations have the potensial to be outright deadly or make you useless as you waste your actions and turns.

Especially for martials that have a lot more attack rolls to deal with, just higher the chance of you getting yourself killed just for doing the most basic of actions. We did have confirmation rolls, but you still lost your turn. Losing turns as a martials is worse than losing turns as a spellcaster. So in the end, why make spellcasters even more overpowering over martials than they already are?

Death to all fumbles!


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Vidmaster7 wrote:
1 in 8000 seems pretty unlikely to me.

In 17 years of fighting with swords, I've managed to accidentally hit myself once, in the first month or two I was doing it. And even then, it was because I bought a new sword with an extra long cross, and I bumped my head with the cross while changing sides. I've literally never dropped my sword without being disarmed.

17 years, at say, 300 swings a week average is 265,000 swings. Even if you say "But REAL combat is different" and make it 20 times more likely, that's still a 1 in 13,260 chance.

And I'm no epic hero - I'm not even all that good.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
LuZeke wrote:
FaerieGodfather wrote:
You know, if I wanted to play a cartoonish farce starring incompetent buffoons...
I can only ascribe such vehemence to either having never used the rules, but dislikes the idea so they're by default the devil, or simply doing it wrong (applying fumbles on every failed roll, forgetting confirmation rolls, etc).
Or having played with more punishing fumble rules. There have been a variety of versions of those over the years for all sorts of games.

This. Rolemaster... Just rolemaster.

"Poor execution. You take 5 hits as the weapon hits you. You are permanently maimed and are bleeding 2 hits per round."
"Worst move seen in ages! You are out for 2 days with a groin injury. There is a 50% chance your foes will be out for 3 rounds, laughing."
"Your weapon breaks and one end hits you in the head. You are stunned and unable to parry for six rounds."
"Fall and break both arms and neck."
"fall crushes skull."


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber
LuZeke wrote:
FaerieGodfather wrote:
You know, if I wanted to play a cartoonish farce starring incompetent buffoons...
I can only ascribe such vehemence to either having never used the rules, but dislikes the idea so they're by default the devil, or simply doing it wrong (applying fumbles on every failed roll, forgetting confirmation rolls, etc).

I've used fumble rules in the past, and they are definitely the devil.


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I believe you but still 1 in 8000 does still seem pretty unlikely. You could probably not see that happen in an entire campaign. Considering we are rolling a d20 their is really only so much variation we can have. so a 1 in 8000 doesn't seem to unlikely, I think I've only seen 2 1's in a row happen like around 3 times in the 14 years i've been playing.


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Vidmaster7 wrote:
I believe you but still 1 in 8000 does still seem pretty unlikely. You could probably not see that happen in an entire campaign. Considering we are rolling a d20 their is really only so much variation we can have. so a 1 in 8000 doesn't seem to unlikely, I think I've only seen 2 1's in a row happen like around 3 times in the 14 years i've been playing.

Well, to be fair, the reason why I said I might consider playing with the 3 1s version is the likelyhood that it wouldn't happen in that campaign at all, which is pretty much what it would take to get me to agree.

For people that like this stuff, fine, but I wouldn't play in that campaign. And since the thread is about making such junk core, it would take house rules to get rid of it, when it should be a house rule to add it in...


Shadrayl of the Mountain wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
I believe you but still 1 in 8000 does still seem pretty unlikely. You could probably not see that happen in an entire campaign. Considering we are rolling a d20 their is really only so much variation we can have. so a 1 in 8000 doesn't seem to unlikely, I think I've only seen 2 1's in a row happen like around 3 times in the 14 years i've been playing.

Well, to be fair, the reason why I said I might consider playing with the 3 1s version is the likelyhood that it wouldn't happen in that campaign at all, which is pretty much what it would take to get me to agree.

For people that like this stuff, fine, but I wouldn't play in that campaign. And since the thread is about making such junk core, it would take house rules to get rid of it, when it should be a house rule to add it in...

Yeah Critical fumble rules definitely should be optional. Not a core rule. some people hate them. I think its usually the Person dming that enjoys them. (evil laugh insert here)

however 1 in 8000 and then like a minor downside wouldn't be terrible. like a -2 penalty here or their. You can't get realistic numbers without changing the dice or making a stupid amount of d20 rolls.


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LuZeke wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Or having played with more punishing fumble rules. There have been a variety of versions of those over the years for all sorts of games.

You don't know terror until you've played GURPS and the GM rolls from the magical crit fail cthulhu table.

Although that did result in one of the most absurd but fun fights we had in that particular game. Fighting a giant cthulhoid demon chicken.

Pathfinder's Crit and Fumble decks are pretty tame in comparison.

Yeah after some of the 1st edition charts the pathfinder decks seemed very tame.

Liberty's Edge

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graystone wrote:

This. Rolemaster... Just rolemaster.

"Poor execution. You take 5 hits as the weapon hits you. You are permanently maimed and are bleeding 2 hits per round."
"Worst move seen in ages! You are out for 2 days with a groin injury. There is a 50% chance your foes will be out for 3 rounds, laughing."
"Your weapon breaks and one end hits you in the head. You are stunned and unable to parry for six rounds."
"Fall and break both arms and neck."
"fall crushes skull."

I think my favorite fumble is from a MERP fumble table and is more or less as follows:

"You stumble over an unseen, imaginary, deceased turtle. You are very confused, miss one turn"

And hilarious as that is, it's not really a mechanic I'm interested in playing with.


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Shadrayl of the Mountain wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
I believe you but still 1 in 8000 does still seem pretty unlikely. You could probably not see that happen in an entire campaign. Considering we are rolling a d20 their is really only so much variation we can have. so a 1 in 8000 doesn't seem to unlikely, I think I've only seen 2 1's in a row happen like around 3 times in the 14 years i've been playing.

Well, to be fair, the reason why I said I might consider playing with the 3 1s version is the likelyhood that it wouldn't happen in that campaign at all, which is pretty much what it would take to get me to agree.

For people that like this stuff, fine, but I wouldn't play in that campaign. And since the thread is about making such junk core, it would take house rules to get rid of it, when it should be a house rule to add it in...

Yeah Critical fumble rules definitely should be optional. Not a core rule. some people hate them. I think its usually the Person dming that enjoys them. (evil laugh insert here)

however 1 in 8000 and then like a minor downside wouldn't be terrible. like a -2 penalty here or their. You can't get realistic numbers without changing the dice or making a stupid amount of d20 rolls.

If we're talking minor penalties, it's a lot more palatable. Something like you mentioned upthread is a lot more manageable. Then I'd be willing to endure it even with like a 1 in 400 (so confirmation roll would have to be a 1) And those could be played off as something like 'you step on a loose floorboard', etc.

It's still something I'd want to be entirely optional, since we don't need punishments for martials. Although I suppose it makes PF2 Power Attack more interesting.

I'm totally fine with stuff like they've mentioned so far, like reactions that can be triggered by a crit failure. That's just a 'oh, you left an opening there' sort of thing, and that happens often enough. Especially if your opponent is good enough that you're hard pressed. Such as would be represented by a higher crit fail chance in the new system.


Yeah that kind of thing seems a bit more reasonable. I think most likely what we will see with martial's as far as failure goes is going to be more like that ability the previewed so critical fumble is a true failure and gains you nothing a regular failure does a little something and then of course success normal effects and critical equals double effects.


No. Also suspect troll post.


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necromental wrote:
No. Also suspect troll post.

seriously, dont take game design notes from someone who misspells handwringing


Deadmanwalking wrote:

I think my favorite fumble is from a MERP fumble table and is more or less as follows:

"You stumble over an unseen, imaginary, deceased turtle. You are very confused, miss one turn"

And hilarious as that is, it's not really a mechanic I'm interested in playing with.

Mine is the groin injury. Not only does to take you out for 2 days but 1/2 the time all your foes laugh at you... Super funny as long as it's isn't YOUR groin.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
I believe you but still 1 in 8000 does still seem pretty unlikely.

Where are you getting 1 in 8000 from? Assuming it only happens when you roll 1 and then roll a second 1 it is a 1 in 400 chance.

If we assume that the average fight has 3 rounds in it. Let's assume martials get two swings a round (sometimes they'll get 3, sometimes they'll get 1, let's average it to 2). Let's assume each level is made up of 66% combat XP and let's assume we're using 20 levels at the Fast XP rate. Finally let's assume most fights are CR+1 (not a fair assumption but it's what we'll go with. We've probably assumed too much non-combat XP so it'll even out). That's roughly 3,156 swings of a sword (which could just as easily have been pulled out of my backside). Assuming 3 primary weapon users (and a 4th magic user) that's once in a campaign if it happens exactly 1 in 8000 rolls of a weapon attack. However your 1 in 8000 is coming from I don't know where. For a 1 in 400 that's 23 times across the campaign for the weapon user to fumble (assuming it takes 2 natural 1s in a row). Or 1.2 times per level. Spellcasters? They don't have to worry about that nonsense.


Dude you need to read the whole posts 1 in 8000 was the example shard used when talking about rolling 3 1's in a row.


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I've got to agree with the majority here. Fumbles suck. I've played with fumbles, and not only are the really non-fun, anything using a table or cards is also usually pretty arbitrary and absurd (getting rid of stupid, arbitrary tables is one of the best trends in RPGs since the 80s). We used the crit decks for a while (mostly the success one, but the fumbles got used too), and in addition to the arbitrariness is the fact that they're pretty unbalanced. Some of the effects had saves, but the DC was the amount of damage done, so at higher level there is no making those saves. My first game with my current group was the Savage Tide AP which I came in near the end. Using those decks one of us decapitated Demogorgon and another carved his initials into him. It was just dumb. Thankfully we finally stopped using that nonsense. It took longer to stop using the horrible house-rule that a natural 1 ended your turn no matter if you have more attacks.

Although one of the guys in my group really loves the Arduin tables (this and this) and uses them whenever he runs. Ugh. Good reason not to let him run. Leave that garbage in the 70s where it belongs.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
Dude you need to read the whole posts 1 in 8000 was the example shard used when talking about rolling 3 1's in a row.

Can you please explain to me how that would work? Mathematically, sure I get how you get those odds. How does that work at the game table? Would I roll a nat 1, then roll a confirmation critical miss (needs another nat 1) and then roll a second confirmation critical miss (needs a third nat 1)? That's a ridiculous rule and has no foundation in the rest of the game.

Might as well say each campaign has 1 critical miss and just roll a single d20 at the start of each session and on a 1 say "woop. Looks like no critical miss for this session. Martials can breathe easy." After 20 sessions you're bound to roll a 1, and then whoever gets the first nat 1 on an attack roll suffers the critical miss and then don't worry about the silly rule for the rest of the campaign.


John Lynch 106 wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
Dude you need to read the whole posts 1 in 8000 was the example shard used when talking about rolling 3 1's in a row.

Can you please explain to me how that would work? Mathematically, sure I get how you get those odds. How does that work at the game table? Would I roll a nat 1, then roll a confirmation critical miss (needs another nat 1) and then roll a second confirmation critical miss (needs a third nat 1)? That's a ridiculous rule and has no foundation in the rest of the game.

Might as well say each campaign has 1 critical miss and just roll a single d20 at the start of each session and on a 1 say "woop. Looks like no critical miss for this session. Martials can breathe easy." After 20 sessions you're bound to roll a 1, and then whoever gets the first nat 1 on an attack roll suffers the critical miss and then don't worry about the silly rule for the rest of the campaign.

Wasn't my idea it was shard you'd have to ask him. Frankly though I feel like your kind of butting in half-way into a our conversation and trying to figure everything out in retrospect.


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The way I have been doing it for quite some time is requiring a confirmation roll for both a crit and a botch.

Crit Threat? Roll again, if Hit, Crit, if Miss, Normal Hit
Nat 1? Roll again, If miss, botch, if hit, just a miss.

I also have it where if your confirmation is a nat 20, since we use the crit deck, you get to pick two cards and keep one.


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KujakuDM wrote:
Nat 1? Roll again, If miss, botch, if hit, just a miss.

There is roughly a 1 in 50 chance of getting a critical miss, or a 35% chance of a PC missing ( party of 4 with the classic layout) per fight. Or a very likely chance of a critical miss every 3 fights. Depending on how many fights you have per game this is roughly 1 critical miss per session.

Wizards have 0% chance of missing so long as they don't make touch attacks.


Doktor Weasel wrote:
Some of the effects had saves, but the DC was the amount of damage done, so at higher level there is no making those saves.

Now I don't know every card off the top of my head, but I am resonably certain that not a single card actually does that. If a card doesn't outright state a DC (typically, 10, 15 or 20) the confirming roll is used. That's supposed to be the roll after modifiers, but I use the what the actual raw die roll is.

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