Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Over at Treasure Tables I seem to be having a little bit of a disagreement with Don Mappin, who I don't know well but has always struck me as a pretty cool guy. Don is coming down on the fact that I use a Fumble Table in my Wild Times campaign, because such things tend to be hard on the PCs for no real gain. Three of my players read this blog, so I'd like to hear their opinions on how my funble houserules have been working out. Anyone else with an opinion on fumbles is welcomed to speak up, as usual. Back in the late 80's/early 90's I was using the Dragon article "Good Hits & Bad Misses" in my campaigns and the worst effect I can recall was Tom Novy's ranger losing an ear to a critical hit from a skeleton. His ranger started wearing a helmet after that, as one of the great features of those charts were that some of the results could be negated if the body part affected war armored. When that same group played MERP and Rolemaster we all avoided wielding morningstars because they had a high fumble rating and would send you straight to the critical hit charts. Has anyone lost a favored PC to a particularly egregious fumble result? That would suck.


It just occurred to me one of the reasons why I might be so pro-fumble. Back when 2nd edition AD&D came out my good buddy Dave Dalley was the first guy in our group to run a lengthy, successful campaign with the new rules. His campaign was awesome, still ranking quite high in my mind as one of the best I've ever played. My PC, the ranger Bartholomew Bolt (a name swiped from a Citadel/GW miniature released at roughly the same time), and Chris Kaufman's PC, the swashbuckler Sir Ian Wulfric Belvedere, had this great lawful good boy scout/chaotic good bad boy chemistry going. And it was a fumble on Bart's first adventure that really created that 'boy scout' persona for him. He threw a handaxe into the melee, blew the roll, and hit an ally, nearly killing him. After the fight the rest of the party harangued him about being so reckless with the lives of others. Ol' Bart took that stern talking-to seriously and went on to develop a persona that was obsessed with minimizing unnecessary risks, always pursuing optimized pre-adventure preparations and especially always having the right equipment on hand. It was a great contrast to Sir Ian's fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants roguery. I don't think that great dynamic would have developed as easily had it not been for that fumble on our first adventure.