For the Sake of Enlightenment

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A preface: The point isn't necessarily to be right, but to learn.

There is a problem that I often see on these boards which used to confound me until I realized it isn't specific to these boards or the topics being discussed. This is the problem: People take unreasonable positions on heated topics and try to use reason to support those positions. Here are two examples being discussed at the moment.

1. Fumble rules make sense. See this thread http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1206019&page=3

One argument used in support of fumble rules is that if you have a special circumstance for rolling a 20 there should be one for rolling a 1. However, such a mechanic already exists as most eloquently observed by Crimson_Concerto:

Crimson_Concerto;18863762 wrote:
I know that the mechanics for a natural twenty and a natural one are different. I know. I'm not trying to make the point that they're the same, because they're not the same. I am trying to make the point that they are already opposed and opposite to one another without further need to modify either of them.

You know what would make a critical miss exactly the opposite of a critical hit? This:
Critical hit: You automatically hit on a natural 20. Roll as second attack to confirm, and if that attack would hit as well, you deal double (triple, quadruple) damage.
Critical miss: You automatically miss on a natural 1. Roll as second attack to confirm, and if that attack would miss as well, you deal one half (third, fourth) damage.

However, that italicized part is irrelevant because you've missed anyways, AND SO in order to be opposite, all that the natural 20 and natural 1 rules need to say in order to be exactly balanced as opposite and opposed to one another is exactly what they already say, which is this:
Critical hit: You automatically hit on a natural 20. Roll as second attack to confirm, and if that attack would hit as well, you deal double (triple, quadruple) damage.
Critical miss: You automatically miss on a natural 1.

The point here is when you hit REALLY well (a nat. 20) you have the chance to hit even harder. However, when you miss, you cannot actually miss any harder. A miss is a miss. Therefore, it does not logically follow that one special mechanic is needed to balance another because, in this case, it cannot logically exist because you end up with Crimson's result.

A point AGAINST fumble rules is that, by such a rule, the higher level the combatant, the more likely he is to fumble (this is much more evident in 3.x with the BAB extra attacks, but can also be seen in the juxtaposition of a ranger and wizard in 4e: obviously the ranger is the better combatant and he gets two attacks to the wizard's one, but with fumble rules, will fumble more often because of this.) Fumblers will attack this by saying that it makes sense that a person who is more often in battle will fumble more than someone who is not often in battle (a spell-throwing wizard for instance).

Shadow_Viper;18863179 wrote:
Indeed, he would threaten a critical hit more often, so he would also threaten a critical miss more often. 'Balance'

Goldgrae;18866708 wrote:
And to the argument that the most experienced will fail more often... If you are swinging your blades around for strikes six times per second, you are more likely to screw up.

This is not a good reason. Also, balance for the sake of balance (or at least Shadow_Viper's version of balance) is unnecessary. With this "logic" whenever someone is born, someone should die. The flaw in this reasoning is obvious. Also, I hope you like sports, because here are a bunch of examples to show why this isn't a good reason.

Is Larry Fitzgerald more likely to make an incredibly difficult catch than I?
Yes
Is Roger Federer more likely to hit an incredibly difficult tennis shot than I?
Yes
Is Grady Sizemore more likely to hit a 90 mph fastball than I?
Yes

Now, on the other hand...

Is Fitzgerald more likely to drop an incredibly easy pass than I?
Is Federer more likely to miss a 20 mph serve than I?
Is Sizemore more likely to miss a pop-up fly than I?
NO.

Just because someone does something more than often isn't the salient point here. We're not talking about a bunch of 1st level characters, we're talking about demigods. Or even paragon tier. How often the characters attack isn't the important, or even interesting, point to be discussed; it's how good they are at doing their job (reflected by their level and feats).

Here's a good example of what a "fair" fumble system might look like:

Goldgrae;18866708 wrote:
Where being a 20th level character can make a difference is in the severity of the failure. This is a matter of DM balancing acts, and if players show displeasure at failing at such high levels, perhaps it bears rethinking at that point. Another solution besides changing the effects might be, say, at level 10, you have to roll two 1's and then below a 10, to even further reduce the chance. And at 20, maybe three 1's in a row. Is a 1/8000 chance low enough for you? For me, 1/400 is just about right -- I like it, and my players like it.

Either one uses the above example of fumble rules (or something similar) or nothing. Their is no REASON to support fumble rules without allowances being made for character skill. A flat, hard and fast rule makes little sense when applied in practice.

2. Optimizing takes the fun out of Roleplaying (and all of its various incarnations) See this thread: http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1198061&page=3

First of all, thank goodness that TempestStormwind had a catchy name so the Stormwind Fallacy stuck and got popular. Now, on to an example.

In response to this:
CyberianHusky;18876087 wrote:
Like it or not, the decision to eliminate the 'run and hide' character archetype from 4E was deliberate... most players who put roleplaying before combat on their list of priorities when building a character werent happy about having to sacrifice 99% of their usefulness in combat to do so, and WotC rightly corrected this.

The fact that you could build a complete wimp of a character in 3E simply by prioritising RP over combat is what is largely responsible for the minority mindset that persists to this day that this is somehow an acceptable trade-off.

Darren S. said this:
Derren S.;18882981 wrote:
And here I thought that D&D wants to be a role playing game and not a tabletop combat game.

To which was replied:
CyberianHusky;18883099 wrote:
That you think it has to be one to the total exclusion of the other is your problem, not a problem of any edition of D&D.

CyberianHusky is right. When presented as I have, this seems like common sense. However, there are a lot of people who hold the opinion of Darren S. and others and try to make it look like they're reasoning to support their points. One point brought up in that thread is that there should be a way to swap out combat utility for out of combat utility. Here the important thing to be considered first is that D&D is now a combat focused game regardless of what it was like in previous editions and regardless of how you (mis)remember it being or how you want it to be.

_Jayne_Cobb_;18818236 wrote:
Combat is the only aspect of the game that requires rules. Everything else can be roleplayed.

Yes. This is completely true. The RPers are railing against a dichotomy that doesn't exist. By definition, one roleplays through roleplaying events. There are mechanics for this in place and the fact that they (seem to me anyway) are much simpler and more open-ended than 3.x is a good thing for roleplaying. It allows more wiggle room with mechanical character development. No longer must you be proficient in 8 different skills to be the party leader. Now you can still be good at combat but also be good at mechanical roleplaying. As to arguments that one desires a character who sucks at combat and is super at non-combat, then you must play a different version of D&D that has a tailored fit for your character. One cannot walk onto a basketball court and lament the lack of tackling. There's a different game for that. Or, you can take what there is, and make something a little different: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Laimbeer%27s_Combat_Basketball.

___________________________________________________

I went on at length on these two subjects because they both represent people taking indefensible stances on topics and defending these stances with "pseudo-reason" that serves only to muddy the waters and raise blood pressure.

People are very simply making bad arguments which they refuse to acknowledge as such in spite of very persuasive reasoning. This leads to confusion and misunderstanding and nobody actually learns anything but what they think or how they think.

If you like fumble rules or hate combat-focused play, the only unassailable position on it is "My party does it for fun." This cannot be attacked in any way, and it's a-ok with me (and should be for everyone else). If that's the case, then just say it. Do not try and reason your way through your belief in such a way as to try to convince someone of your position. And if your response to this is "I'm not here to talk about who's right and who's wrong. I'm not here to debate." Then why post in the first place?

If we can't accept the possibility of being wrong in our beliefs then we cannot move forward in our understanding of the topic at hand or of each other as free-thinking individuals. It's ok to be wrong. It's ok to take the "easy way out" too, because, sometimes, it's the only right answer. Don't be afraid to say "I do it because it's fun." Don't feel like you suddenly have to justify your like for fumble rules, or the band Korn, or the film "The Room." You can just like it. But on the other hand, don't try to discuss it in any way so as to persuade someone to your point of view unless you have actual reasons as to why you think you're right (fumble rules are fair, Korn has great musicians, "The Room" uses advanced filming and acting techniques, whatever). As well, make sure you truly consider the opposing position and their reasoning for their beliefs. Try to resist snap judgments just because someone is disagreeing with you.

If this seems condescending, I assure you, it is not. Many, many people hold the untenable positions I have discussed and many of them will hold these positions despite the assault of reason being hurled at them and will continue to fire back with what amounts to cheez-whiz in a nuclear war. There are the few, however, that will finally say to someone during a debate: "You're right. My position is indefensible by reason. However, I [my group, we, etc] truly enjoy this aspect of our experience and will continue to employ it," and they will stop railing and being unreasonable for the sake of argument, and start listening and discussing for the sake of enlightenment.
Please note that I haven't taken part in the Great Fumble Debate which has apparently taken place somewhere and I don't particularly care about the subject.

However, when one takes it upon themselves to lecture others about their faulty reasoning it would behoove them to correctly represent those arguments. Specifically:

Also, I hope you like sports, because here are a bunch of examples to show why this isn't a good reason.

Is Larry Fitzgerald more likely to make an incredibly difficult catch than I?
Yes
Is Roger Federer more likely to hit an incredibly difficult tennis shot than I?
Yes
Is Grady Sizemore more likely to hit a 90 mph fastball than I?
Yes

Now, on the other hand...

Is Fitzgerald more likely to drop an incredibly easy pass than I?
Is Federer more likely to miss a 20 mph serve than I?
Is Sizemore more likely to miss a pop-up fly than I?
NO.

From what I understand it, the second part is a misrepresentation of the pro-fumble argument. The correct version would be something like this:

Does Fitzgerald drop increadibly easy passes more often than I?
Does Federer miss 20mph serves more often than I?
Does Sizemore miss more pop-up flies than I?

The answer to these could be yes or no depending on how probable it is for them to fail compared to how probable it is for you to fail and how often you confront the respective situations. It's likely that at least one of the questions would have the answer yes, since it's unlikely that you practice all three sports extensively enough for you to confront the situations very often.

Furthermore, the reasoning in the quote from Crimson Concerto is also incorrect. For example, if you instead start with the effect of a 1 (an automatic miss with no further effects) then giving a 20 the oppositve would mean you end up with an automatic hit with no further effects. If A is the opposite of B then B should be the opposite of A but clearly that is not the case here, leading to the inevitable conclusion that the relation between A and B is something other than opposition.

Also, claiming that a special circumstance that doesn't happen is a special circumstance is rather disingenious, and also a misrepresentation of what Crimson Concerto is actually saying. He's saying the mechanics are opposite to one another (which is false as per above), not that there is a special circumstance for rolling a 1, which is what you claim he is saying.

And again, I don't particularly care about the fumble mechanic per se (we don't use one in our games) but I do care about logical reasoning.
Add to this list the following assertions:

* There 'should' be a martial controller class.

* There 'should' be a rogue build that uses INT as its secondary stat.

* Any part of the RAW you dont like (and have written a house-rule for, which though popular with your home group is not legal in LFR / RPGA games) -is fair game to request errata for (aka. everyone should be forced to use MY house-rules).

* Hanging around in a 4E forum posting about how terrible you think 4E is doesnt mean you are a troll. No, seriously it doesnt!

* Complaining about the lack of PDF sales is in any way constructive.

* Pathfinder is any kind of solution to the dilemma of disenfranchised 3.5E players.

...and any number of other inane beliefs-presented-as-fact.
Overall, a well thought out post. Kudos.

To try to avoid a tangent, s-blocked for a conversation with CyberianHusky.

Show
It's amusing. The Int/rogue debate isn't about rogues.

It's about Intelligence.

See, there is something odd about the Martal classes. If you want a Strong hero, you can play anything from a beefy fighter to a powerful yet sinister rogue, a devastating ranger or a mighty warleader. If you want an Agile hero you can play a swift sniper, a whirling dervish, an adept blademaster, or a acrobatic aerialist. If you want a Tough hero, you have the lion's share, from the stalwart warrior to the unyielding captain, and even the other two are assisted by Con.

On the mental stat playing field, if you want a Wise hero, you can play an intuitive archer just as easily as an attuned beastmaster or a perceptive fighter, always assessing the enemy to protect allies. If you want a Charismatic hero, you can play a dashing rogue just as easily as an inspiring warlord or outrageously awesome bravura.

But if you want a Smart hero.....you can play a Taclord.

And that's it.

Only one build across the entire martial line actually supports Intelligence. A very specific build, a leader who relies on Strength as his primary stat, focuses on granting abilities to allies, and must be on the frontline.

There is no way under the current system to support a Smart hero who isn't Strong. Nor is there a way to run a Smart hero who doesn't use melee.

And THAT is the problem, not the rogue specifically. I would assert that there is a gap in the Martial source for the Smart hero who works at a range, or as a midline character, and doesn't rely on physical Strength in order to use abilities. Someone skilled, intelligent, but not acting in a position of leadership.

Someone like an Operative, for lack of a better expression. Brilliant, conniving, and acting as a counter-strategist, the yang of the taclord's yin, preventing plans, breaking formations, ensuring that the enemy is always outmaneuvered and outsmarted at every turn.

The Martial source needs another Intelligent archetype.

Because I want Solid Snake.
And THAT is the problem, not the rogue specifically.

My opinion? That is NOT the problem. The problem is that we have given purely mechanical values a little tag that we then associate with aspects of human personality.

Look at Int and Dex. Remove the conotations. They are the exact same thing. Other than Initiative and the specific skills they effect, they both do the same thing: Bonus to Reflex, increase some skills. Even the Initiative and skills thing is based not on mechanics, but our preconcived notions of what the tags we applied to the random number means.

I hate ability scores. If they did away with them, we would no longer have people saying "But I want my Rogue's secondary abilities to key off of 'Intelligence', not 'Charisma'!". I'm not saying that wanting your character concept to be "Smart character who uses the abilities inherint to a Rogue classed character" is stupid, I'm just saying that the only thing stopping you from doing that is those ridiculous little tags they pinned to random numbers. So until someone makes a Rogue option for "Ability score value #4", you can't feel the satisfaction of knowing that your character has a high value in "Ability score known as 'Intelligence'".

But that's just me. :D

Because I want Solid Snake.[/sblock]

Solid Snake wasn't really that super-smart. Yeah, he was no fool, but most of the time he only survived because he had the skillz and massive BALLS! Really, I'd give him an 18 in "Ability score value #7, Informal name: 'Balls'". :P
EVERY DAY IS HORRIBLE POST DAY ON THE D&D FORUMS. Everything makes me ANGRY (ESPECIALLY you, reader)
To be fair more build options are always welcome as long as they are unique and balanced. Im just not sure how you would make an int based rogue different then the artful dodger unless you made it focus on crossbows/thrown weapons which might be kind of cool.
...but we are talking about real people!... on the internet!!


:D
(I'm trying to be funny again...)

well that was actually funny.
The answer to these could be yes or no depending on how probable it is for them to fail compared to how probable it is for you to fail and how often you confront the respective situations. It's likely that at least one of the questions would have the answer yes, since it's unlikely that you practice all three sports extensively enough for you to confront the situations very often.

That's not the point. The interesting thing isn't if they'll fumble more often because they do it more often. Of course they will, but that doesn't mean anything. An MMA fighter is more likely to get knocked out more often than I am because he fights more often, but if one looked at the number of fights I've been in compared to the number of times I've been knocked out, and did the same for the MMA fighter, it wouldn't accurately represent the skill of the fighter. With hard and fast fumble rules, a 30th level fighter is more likely to drop his weapon (or whatever) in a given fight than a much lower level counterpart simply because he swings his sword more. Look at fencing. Of course an olympic fencer has been disarmed more often than I have, but he is incredibly UNLIKELY to be disarmed in any given match because of his skill. That's why hard and fast fumble rules are bogus, but ones based on level seem a lot more fair and accurate (two equally skilled fencers would turn each others' attacks with equal probability).

Furthermore, the reasoning in the quote from Crimson Concerto is also incorrect. For example, if you instead start with the effect of a 1 (an automatic miss with no further effects) then giving a 20 the oppositve would mean you end up with an automatic hit with no further effects. If A is the opposite of B then B should be the opposite of A but clearly that is not the case here, leading to the inevitable conclusion that the relation between A and B is something other than opposition.

Also, claiming that a special circumstance that doesn't happen is a special circumstance is rather disingenious, and also a misrepresentation of what Crimson Concerto is actually saying. He's saying the mechanics are opposite to one another (which is false as per above), not that there is a special circumstance for rolling a 1, which is what you claim he is saying.

And again, I don't particularly care about the fumble mechanic per se (we don't use one in our games) but I do care about logical reasoning.

No. Let's start from the beginning.

A 1 is an automatic miss. Why? Well, the most clear reasoning I can see is that it enforces the idea that even the best fighters or most lucky of people won't hit ALL the time, regardless of their sky high attack bonus.

A 20 is an automatic hit. Why? Because sometimes, no matter how inept or unlucky you are, or how good your opponent is, you can still get that one hit in. This all seem fair enough to me.

Now. Rolling a 20 means you threaten for a critical hit, which you must confirm. That is the rule in place. The one being offered is the fumble rule. You roll a confirmation of the critical hit to see just how lucky that hit was. It is actually an opposed check in disguise. Your attack is being opposed by the enemy's defense. With the fumble rules, this could be anything from a simple miss on your part to your enemy turning your attack aside with his own skill. This reasoning supports fumbles, BUT it does not support hard and fast rules about fumbles. When you threaten a crit, you don't automatically get it. The same should go for fumbles. Also, as I've said, if you're going to include fumbles in your game, you should adjust for the skill of the character attacking. Crits don't need this adjustment because the game makes it for you: the damage you deal on a crit scales with level based on how much damage your attacks cause, enemy defenses scale with level such as various crit negation abilities (the 3.5 fortification armor quality comes to mind) and their hitpoints also scale, which is the ultimate last defense against crits.

If you want TRUE balance, then the only possibilities are to enforce a fumble rule similar to what I and the other poster in my OP laid out, or to cancel critical hits and leave 20s at automatic hits and nothing more.
To be fair in 4e you do not roll to confirm a critical hit. Fumble rules are okay as house rules or optional rules but I dont think they should be part of the core game.
Add to this list the following assertions:

* There 'should' be a martial controller class.

* There 'should' be a rogue build that uses INT as its secondary stat.

* Any part of the RAW you dont like (and have written a house-rule for, which though popular with your home group is not legal in LFR / RPGA games) -is fair game to request errata for (aka. everyone should be forced to use MY house-rules).

* Hanging around in a 4E forum posting about how terrible you think 4E is doesnt mean you are a troll. No, seriously it doesnt!

* Complaining about the lack of PDF sales is in any way constructive.

* Pathfinder is any kind of solution to the dilemma of disenfranchised 3.5E players.

...and any number of other inane beliefs-presented-as-fact.

Beliefs presented as fact is perhaps the easiest flaw to fall into when having any sort of debate, and it is also the hardest for people to realize they're committing.

And if you're going to try to persuade someone to your point of view, you must use facts and evidence to support it, including sound logical reasoning. I'm totally open to new ideas and whathaveyou. I just require more than "I like it and here's why" to convince me, especially if I currently endorse an opposing side.

As far as fumble rules go, I've always used them though I'm not sure why. In one instance it even lead to the funniest moment in my D&D life. However, I also recognize that the rule "If you roll a one you fumble" or "Confirm the fumble after rolling a 1" is not fair or balanced. We actually used reflex saves against DC 10 to avoid fumbling, which is a little better, but still not perfect.
In the game we play, critical hits are kinda already determined by how well you hit (how high you roll).
Also, there are fumble rules as well. Rolling within an unmodified range of numbers (which is different per weapon) will result in a fumble. But the fumble roll itself is modified according to what was "fumbled". (yes, you can "fumble a skill check or spell... usually with bad results...)

Anyway, I guess what I am trying to say is we like critical hits and fumbles in the games we play. We even had a fumble rule back in our 3.5/Pathfinder days...

This is perfectly fine and why I said it should be a house rule/ optional thing. I dont think this is the kind of rule that everyone would enjoy also it does add another layer of complexity on to things.
there's no reason for any fumble rules because the consequences for rolling a natural 20 or 1 are already balanced. a nat 20 is an automatic hit no matter what. forget the critically hitting part, you hit even if with all your modifiers you still didn't manage to beat the ac.
natural 1 is a miss no matter what, even if with all your modifiers you would still beat the creature's ac.
so there you have it, automatically missing for automatically hitting.
No, I disagree.
A natural 20 is an auto hit and a crit threat.
A natural 1 is just an auto-miss.
I don't see that as "balanced".

For those who like fumbles, simply add a second on a natural 1 to see if it is a "critical fumble".
You could use a flat 1-5 for the second roll (which is what we did, modified by the magic + of the weapon)

Just as long as there is no chance of cutting your own arm off. I can see a critical fumble meaning droping your weapon or being slid back, anything else would probably be overboard.
No, I disagree.
A natural 20 is an auto hit and a crit threat.
A natural 1 is just an auto-miss.
I don't see that as "balanced".

For those who like fumbles, simply add a second roll on a natural 1 to see if it is a "critical miss"(fumble).
You could use a flat 1-5 for the second roll (which is what we did, modified by the magic + of the weapon)

it's only a crit threat if you beat the creature's defenses after adding all your modifiers.
as for critically missing. how can you critically miss? it doesn't make any sense. yeah you deal max dmage on a critical hit because on that attack you managed to bypass all the target's defenses but how do you critically miss to do even less damage than zero? doing absolutely no damage is the only realistic penalty and opposite to being able to do full damage on a crit.

the only way i could support fumbling is if critically hitting made you do something besides full damage. adding a fumble to an automatic miss is an attempt to make the absolute opposite of doing full damage be less than zero.
If there was a 1/20 chance of dropping your weapon or hurting yourself, war must have been amusing to watch.

25,000 soldiers dropping their weapons or smacking themselves... :D
No, it's a crit threat from being a natural 20.
It's only a crit when you hit the second time.

Psst, in 4e, you don't need to roll again. You just need to see if you hit.
No, it's a crit threat from being a natural 20.
It's only a crit when you hit the second time.

it's the same thing. it's called a threat because you might beat the creature's defenses after adding all your mods to the roll
Or, think about it this way...
On a natural 20, it is an auto hit + possibly "something special" (double damage, whatever..)
On a natural 1, it is an auto miss + ....

See my point?
By adding in a second roll or something, you can reflect a critical miss just like a critical hit.

i don't mind the missing part. it's the unfair rider effects that get house-ruled onto it
No, I disagree.
A natural 20 is an auto hit and a crit threat.
A natural 1 is just an auto-miss.
I don't see that as "balanced".

For those who like fumbles, simply add a second roll on a natural 1 to see if it is a "critical miss"(fumble).
You could use a flat 1-5 for the second roll (which is what we did, modified by the magic + of the weapon)

For 4e this isn't a question of balance, only of symmetry.
(For 3.5 and earlier it could be concidered a balance question, as it is a question of balance between attack roll based attacks and auto-hit or save-based attacks. The more obviously 'balanced' modification would be to give something like 2x damage when the target nat 1's a save vs a spell/ability that doesn't have an attack roll, if they fail a secondary save to confirm the crit-fail. For ongoing spells/effects maybe give double duration in place of 2x damage?)

You're welcome to prefer the symmetry of adding fumbles, but in so much as it's a balance issue it isn't crits it needs to be balanced against. Rather both crits and the houseruled fumbles are traits of attack rolls that make them more or less desirable compared to alternative means of delivering damage and other unpleasantness. 4e eliminated the 3.5 alternative of saving throws. I don't think auto-damage / effect lines lose out enough by lacking crit potential to demand compensation in the form of attack rolls suffering fumbles.

Rolling nat 20 and rolling nat 1 aren't what a player choses between so they don't need to be balanced against each other. Using attack roll based actions vs using actions that are not based on attack rolls is the player's choice, and those options need to be balanced against one another.
As far as fumble rules go, I've always used them though I'm not sure why. In one instance it even lead to the funniest moment in my D&D life. However, I also recognize that the rule "If you roll a one you fumble" or "Confirm the fumble after rolling a 1" is not fair or balanced. We actually used reflex saves against DC 10 to avoid fumbling, which is a little better, but still not perfect.

If I recall correctly Rolemaster had some downright amusing results on both their fumble charts and crit charts.....the one that immediately comes to mind is for 2-H weapon and I am paraphrasing: "Trip over an invisible, imaginary dead turtle..." (with the result following, but I only remember the funny part)
No, I disagree.
A natural 20 is an auto hit and a crit threat.
A natural 1 is just an auto-miss.
I don't see that as "balanced".

For those who like fumbles, simply add a second roll on a natural 1 to see if it is a "critical miss"(fumble).
You could use a flat 1-5 for the second roll (which is what we did, modified by the magic + of the weapon)

Artificial symmetry is not the same thing as balance.
If you want symmetry in the 3e natural 1/20 rules, then you need something like this:

Natural 1: a result of 1 on the d20 roll to hit results in an automatic miss, even if the total result with modifiers would otherwise hit. If the attack would not have hit with modifiers, roll to hit again. If this second attack roll misses, your character has fumbled his attack [with x result].

That's symmetry that scales with character ability both ways. It's imperfect symmetry because some weapons in 3e grant the crit chance on more than a natural 20. I won't say it's balanced because I haven't specified the consequence of the fumble, which would be the deciding factor.
That's the old RoleMaster.... it has changed a little over the years.
Also, the crit he speaks of is like if you roll 1's three times in a row, or something ridiculously as unlucky as that. It was all in the roll. There are "tame" fumbles in RM, but people only remember the crazy, deadly stuff.

Well of course, only the crazy, deadly stuff is so entertaining (after the fact...if it happens to you it sucks). I also like the max crit for a crushing weapon which was something to the lines of "massive blow to foe reduces skeleton to jelly; use a spatula"...
A couple points. Since the thread is all about fumbles now, I will address that first. I have played with fumbles where a fumble threat makes you roll a ref save. I think this makes the most sense because as you get to epic levels, the odds of failing decrease, sometimes very significantly. This seems rational to me... as you get better, you can handle yourself better and not just fling your weapon away or hack at allies. I mean we are talking epic, or fighting colossal dragons levels, the idea that you could throw your sword on anything shy of epically low odds makes little sense. The biggest problem with rolling to confirm a fumble as an attack is that you might be using one of your lowest attack bonuses. To me, the lower attack bonus attacks were always more quick attacks or feints that had lower odds of success, not actually being weaker. So why should attempting a quick attack make me vastly more likely to drop my sword? You are already less likely to crit (vastly), that doesn't say to me that you should be vastly more likely to drop your weapon as well. You already have a greater chance to miss by using a lower attack, its just adding insult to injury imho. Again, this is all opinion, not telling you how you should play.

Back to the original point, it is something that happens quite often with regard to many forum topics. However, some topics are specifically meant to discuss opinions and dissent or support based on actual experience, not the hard facts of what something is or does. For example: Does having (virtually) no rules for out of combat present a problem to role playing? This is not a question of what is allowed in the rules already and how they should work, it is a question of the impact of the rules (or lack thereof) on roleplaying, and discussing something like that is generally entirely subjective, and the fact that it depends strongly on how the players and DM act, and not how the game defines it, it is easy to make arguments to support your position that are based on experience.

Rules for roleplaying are not just there to tell you all that you are allowed to do, they are also a way to tell you the limits that you are allowed to have. The problem with "RP doesn't need rules" is that you can have a player playing a character that is 200 years old, and so they just say that he can do practically any non-combat skill because he has picked it up over the many many years. He is a blacksmith, a tailor, a chef, boat captain, a horseshoe - er (ferrier), and everything else you can think of. The problem is, that while you can tell them that that is ridiculous and isn't really fair, if he is stubborn, it just comes down to "Well, it doesn't say I can't do all those things like a master, and since its my backstory, I say I can" vs the DM saying no, and that just makes everyone unhappy and seem like a jerk. When you can get storyline and mechanical benefits out of things that are not defined in the rules and open-ended enough that people can just say they can do it, you have problems.
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The only critical miss rule I'd ever tolerate is as follows:

On a natural 20, you always hit. If it would have hit with all usual modifiers, you do maximum damage to the target.

On a natural 1, you always miss. If you would have missed, even with all usual modifiers, you do not inflict any damage, even if the attack lets you impose damage on a miss.

There you go. Artificial symmetry. Additional penalty for a natural 1. It slightly hurts blast/burst characters more than melee/ranged characters, but not so much that it renders those concepts less feasible. It doesn't require additional rolls. It doesn't have people chopping off their own (or their allies') limbs.

Enjoy.
Xhaosdaemon:
I always liked the fact that a 1st level goblin with a dagger still stood a chance to kill a 20th level fighter with a lucky blow! Even if said chance was abysmally low!
And yeah, the crits are very entertaining! And yeah, it sucks when it happens to you. That's why there are detailed healing herbs and spells!
That gets me thinking...
I think a problem people have with RM is they think it is played like D&D. Well, it is and it isn't. Being outnumbered is a killer, even if only by 1 or 2, so not a whole lot of "minion" fights, especially at low levels, is the first thing that pops into my head...


Tell me about it! One game I played in I had specced out an elf who had a huge AR in longbow. We got into it with some uruk-hai and I spacked the 1st one good, a nice fat critical. Well, another one critted my with his crossbow and I basically spent the rest of the combat furiously parrying and trying to keep myself from bleeding to death until I could be healed. You definitely don't play RM in the all-guns-blazing style as you will quickly end up in the all-bodies-blazing pile on the funeral pyre....
That is, indeed, true!
I remember running away and hiding a lot at low levels. Also, missile combat can be your friend! Hit your opponent before he gets to you, and you will be in better position to melee! And always try to outnumber your opponents! And NEVER fight outnumbered without a surprise round and a Magician!:D

I enjoy that game!:P

There are many old-school games I really enjoyed playing back then but they always seemed to fall apart (especially considering we were all students then or at least pretending to be). Ah for those campaigns of yore in esoteric setting....Rolemaster, MERP, Runequest, Villains & Vigilantes (OK it isn't an RPG but it was fun)....I just recently rediscovered Talislanta and hope to either find a game or start one myself. As I recall from when I played years ago it was pretty simple in learning the rules but I had a LOT of fun....
Not that this is the thread for debating fumbles, but I hate to break it to all naysayers, the rules are both equally balanced, and virtually symmetrical. That said, there is only one way they could be changed to make them perfectly balanced, yet then it'd not make any sense.

Natural 20 = Automatic hit and Maximum damage.

Natural 1 = Automatic Miss and No damage.

The only way to make them exact opposites, would be to have "Automatic miss, Minimum damage", and that really makes no sense.

I don't mind fumbles some times, but they worked better in a system where you had to roll to confirm success or failure. 4e doesn't make much sense, for the obvious reason of a 1 in 20 chance of disarming yourself completely, which in some cases makes you completely impotent.

Natural 20's are not that great to begin with, adding further failures to a Natural 1, would in most case make a player not want to roll a single die. Fumbles unbalance the very thing people think they are trying to balance.

-RW
Anyway, I guess what I am trying to say is we like critical hits and fumbles in the games we play. We even had a fumble rule back in our 3.5/Pathfinder days...

"...back in our 3.5/Pathfinder days..." OMG, I'm old!

No, we never had anything outright deadly in our 3.x game, just damage yourself, our your closest ally... sometimes (if two 1's rolled in a row) we would double damage... but most of the time it was dropped weapon or lost initiative...


But in our current game, roll bad enough a few times in a row and... yeah, the results are pretty much Death. But we like that! A lot of people don't like the type of game we play or our preferences...and that's fine. We probably don't like theirs!:D
Hey! Whatever lets you have a good time with your friends is fine!

When we did critical fumbles in the dark ages (2nd edition) we had a chance of hitting anyone surrounding you. This caused some extremely funny kills.

"Oooh, I fumbled at the orc, and " rolls a d6 " critically hit the stone golem killing it."

The good ole' days when the fighter was a meat shield and the wizard did the dirty work of killing everything...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I can see why some people would think that crit fumbles are not "parallel" to crit hits, and understand that they would want to therefore modify them to be more "equal". But then why does it always seem that they choose to balance out "Does some bonus damage" with "ROLL ON A D100 CHART! ROLLED A 56? NO ARMS FOR JIMMY!"? :D

I understand that this is not what the OP was advocating, and indeed am not aiming it at anyone in this thread. Just some levity.

But to be serious, let's actually see what we would need to do to achieve "balance" between crit hits and crit misses. First, we ask what a crit hit does? In 4E, it makes you cause max damage, and in 3E, it makes you cause a multiplied amound of damage, usually X2.

Let us set up some basic rules. We can break hits and misses down to simple formula, where X equals average damage rolls:

Miss Damage = 0
Hit Damage = X

Since maximizing is aproximatly double average roll, and since the usual crit multiplier is X2, let us assume that the effect of a crit is to add on an amount of damage equal to the damage of a standard hit. From that, we can state that crit hits fit into this formula:

Crit Hit Damage = X + X

With that done, let us begin "balancing" the crit hit with a crit miss. Firstly, since a crit hit causes your attack to automaticly hit, a crit miss causes you to automaticly miss. Easy so far. Now we must apply the opposite of what the crit hit adds to a succesful hiot, which would be equivilant to a negative average damage roll. That leaves our crit miss forumula like this:

Crit Miss Damage = 0 - X

And the plot thickens! We now know that a crit miss causes an amount of damage to the target equal to negative average damage roll. This is tricky, as there is no such thing in the standard game rules! A negative damage roll gives us two options:

- Negative damage can mean that the target actually gains HP.
- Negative damage can mean that the opposite of the target takes an average damage roll.

I think it is safe to say that those who want fumble rules do not want your sword swing to heal enemies! That would be silly. So we must choose the second option, that of the opposite of the target taking average an average damage roll in damage. Who is the opposite of the target? The attacker, of course!

Therefore, the final rule after all of that research is as thus:

On a roll of natural 1, the attacker automaticlly misses the target, and rolls damage as if they had hit themselves.

SCIENCE! :D

Of course, I'd never use this in my home game, because I find this sort of "You randomly hit yourself" thing silly. But using the logic that critical hits need an equal opposite critical miss, this is the most acceptable answer. It does the precise opposite of a critical, which serves to add roughly an extra damage roll to a hit.
EVERY DAY IS HORRIBLE POST DAY ON THE D&D FORUMS. Everything makes me ANGRY (ESPECIALLY you, reader)
I don't know how much of this has already been discussed downthread but if I'm to remember to reply to this I need to do it before getting the groceries, so here goes:

That's not the point. The interesting thing isn't if they'll fumble more often because they do it more often.

Except that that was the reasoning given: that it's weird that someone who is more skilled will fumble more often than someone who is less skilled, ignoring the fact that the more skilled one tries more often.

With hard and fast fumble rules, a 30th level fighter is more likely to drop his weapon (or whatever) in a given fight than a much lower level counterpart simply because he swings his sword more.

Depending on what powers they have. A low-level fighter could easily have more multi-target powers than the one at 30th level.

Let's also remember that the 30th level fighter has much more skilled and dangerous opponents.

Why should a level 30 fighter fighting a level 30 dragon fumble less often than a level 3 fighter fighting a level 3 dragon?

Let's start from the beginning.

Yeah, let's. So please refrain from introducing new, irrelevant arguments. Which leaves you with...

A 1 is an automatic miss. (Irrelevant additions removed.)

A 20 is an automatic hit. (Irrelevant additions removed.)

Rolling a 20 means you (make) a critical hit. (Misunderstanding of the rules removed)

The one being offered is the fumble rule. (Lots of irrelevant additions based on misunderstanding of the rules removed)

If you want TRUE balance, then the only possibilit(y is) to cancel critical hits and leave 20s at automatic hits and nothing more.

And now we agree.
Why should a level 30 fighter fighting a level 30 dragon fumble less often than a level 3 fighter fighting a level 3 dragon?

Unfortunately you're ignoring the fact that the level 30 fighter fumbles MORE often. This point is being repeated over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over...
There is only one way they could be changed to make them perfectly balanced, yet then it'd not make any sense.

Natural 20 = Automatic hit and Maximum damage.

Natural 1 = Automatic Miss and No damage.

The only way to make them exact opposites, would be to have "Automatic miss, Minimum damage", and that really makes no sense.

Yep. I've used this argument many times. It leaves fumblers scratching their heads.
There is one crucial element missing from the Crit Fumble debate and that is the purpose of an RPG. A Roleplaying game is not a board game. People always forget that many of the rules and mechanisms that govern RPGs descended from boardgames and still possess several of the worst traits, one of which is random generation. The purpose of a board game is exactly opposite of an RPG. In a board game players are supposed to be eliminated because they're competing. In an RPG players are supposed to work together and grow, both as players and characters (Gygax, Roleplaying Mastery). When we look at the objectives they appear diametrically opposed:
* Board Games seek to eliminate players, removing them from the game and playing session. They use random elements to hinder players individually and create an uneven playing field. Board games are designed to eliminate players early on. This increases competition and decreases game time allowing more games to be played.
* RPGs are designed to keep players returning at the table. RPGs often include rules that allow players to act out of turn, ensuring that players always have an option to keep playing. RPGs level the playing field among players granting each equal access to and representation within the game. All of these factors seek to improve cooperation rather than competition.

There are no real rivals among players in an RPG as character elimination will not end a game with a clear winner. Eliminating a character could end an entire campaign. Given the nature of a Fumble, characters dying because they roll too many dice is a board game strategy. It eliminates/stifles players in the same fashion as drawing a card and going to directly to Jail would.

When we look at early versions of RPGs we see a board game trend:
1) Rolling for stats and hitpoints which created the deadman walking.
2) Rolling for race and class.
3) Rolling for survival (Traveler and Twilight 2000 I'm looking at you).
4) Rolling for background

All of these are board game mechanisms. Rolling characters is like grabbing a character card in Descent (tm). It's a random character. In many ways it's like a pregen character. You have no control over the creation of a character you many be playing for the next year or two. How many DMs would roll to determine which modules they'd use? How many gaming groups would roll to determine which game they will purchase and play for the next 4 years? Each makes about as much sense.

Simply put, board game strategies are destructive to RPGs. They're "exciting" like landing in the Molasses Swamp in Candyland. But unlike Candyland, no child is spending time writing about the backstory behind Redpeg and why they're adventuring with Greenpeg and Bluepeg in a dangerous realm of sweets.
Except a critical doesn't mean "mortal wound"

It uses the definition of the word: "of decisive importance with respect to the outcome"

That one in 20 hits will be of decisive importance to resolving the battle is not surprising. Combats are supposed to be four rounds, with about five combatants per side. Each side is likely to get one or two critical hits a battle. Those probably will be "critical" to the outcome. The term is appropriate.

That's a lot different than the fact that in the same battle, one or two of the combatants being expected to injure themselves (if one uses critical failure rules that self-inflict damage)!
Perhaps fumbles could be lost initiative, or a slip/slide or whatever they're called in 4e....

But why?

If a critical hit simply causes more damage, why would a fumble make you lose a turn or get slid somewhere? This is kinda what I was talking about. The most common fumble rules have absolutly nothing to do with critical hits. They are just a bunch of random stuff that happens.

Maybe we should use Kbold Horrible Death charts? :D
EVERY DAY IS HORRIBLE POST DAY ON THE D&D FORUMS. Everything makes me ANGRY (ESPECIALLY you, reader)
Neither does fumble.:D

Exactly. So what's your point? You seem to agree that 1) critical wounds aren't auto-wins, and "fumble" shouldn't indicate self-inflicted wounds.

So what are we left with? A natural 1 is already zero damage.

Perhaps fumbles could be lost initiative, or a slip/slide or whatever they're called in 4e....

The problem is that punishes blast/burst users, who roll multiple times per attack. Why should somebody who rolls a natural 1 when casting a lightning bolt be moved a square? Why should somebody who rolls a natural 1 when doing anything lose an entire round of combat (which is what I guess you mean by "losing iniative")? Is that something you think makes sense to happen once or twice per battle?
Oh by the way, enlightenment is achieved by meditation and inner reflection not argument and debate (otherwise many people would be enlightened).

ok back off topic...

If we define a critical hit by how it affects the combat, we can see that it usually either weakens or kills the monster that it hit. To go opposite of that damaging yourself or "weakening" yourself would be a viable option. It could be as simple as gaining a stat from a list.

"Roll 1d12 and pick from the following table:
1 - blinded
2 - dazed
3 - deafened
4 - dominated
5 - helpless
6 - immobilized
7 - marked
8 - prone
9 - slowed
10 - stunned
11 - surprised
12 - weakened

then roll 1d20 for the duration
1 to 6 - until the end of your next turn
7 to 12 - until the end of the attackers next turn
13 to 19 - (save ends)
20 - until the end of the encounter or you receive magical healing"

This would temporarily disable the character or make them less effective in battle which is effectively what a crit does to monsters. Keep in mind a party usually goes up against an equal or greater number of monsters than the number of party members. This means the killing of a single monster makes the battle easier for the party, not that the battle is over or whatever.

Oh and this can only happen once per power.
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Wait, so I roll a natural 1 on a dagger thrust against a zombie, and if I roll a "4", the zombie has dominated me, possibly for the entire encounter, and that's supposed to be a valid counterpoint to max damage on a natural 20!?
The Dungeon Master's Guide page 189 has a suggested fumble rule.



Now back to the topic.

The following is the basic fallibility principle of logic.

The of all the great philosophers and scientists that have come to conclusions that seemed right based on evidence and then later been proved wrong. No one is innately less prone to making errors, so when arguing keep in mind the possibility of being wrong. This frees you up to see the other side of the argument and to chance of position based on evidence. If someone fails to keep in mind the possibility of being wrong and instead argues from the point of view that they cannot be wrong it would instead allow the rejection of any and all evidence despite the weight and number of arguments.
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It Came From Section Four!
Warning: Posts my contain evil.

Orc in the House of Trolls
Unfortunately you're ignoring the fact that the level 30 fighter fumbles MORE often.

Only if he makes more attack rolls, which isn't a given. This isn't 3.x where higher level automatically meant more attack rolls.

Furthermore, if that's the main argument against fumbles it's easy enough to limit them to the first attack roll made during your turn.

And again I'd like to reiterate that the only reason I joined the discussion was that the OP presented faulty and illogical arguments in a post meant to describe how to make logical and correct arguments, not because I care about whether someone uses a fumble rule or not.