[RPG] Looking for an alternative to the DM’s favorite fumble table


I've been playing in a new D&D 3.5 game for a few weeks, and it's going pretty well, with one major exception. The DM is a huge fan of critical hits and critical fumbles, and he has found the fumble table from hell. Whenever someone rolls a natural 1 on their attack roll, they fumble. Fumble results have included the following:

  • The character trips and is also flat-footed.
  • The character's weapon cannot deal lethal damage for 1d6 rounds.
  • The character is dazed for 1d6 rounds. (I asked, it's not supposed to be dazzled.)
  • The character hits themself, and it is an automatic critical threat.
  • The character hits an adjacent ally, and it is an automatic critical threat.

This culminated in an encounter against a handful of weak undead resulting in a near-party wipe. At any given time, one of our two tanks was dazed. The rogue knocked herself unconscious with her sling, which used up our daily healing. I spent the next combat fighting with a dagger because my greatsword dealt only nonlethal damage (fighting exclusively undead and constructs) and at some point, one of my fumbles flat-out killed the rogue.

The DM claims that the critical hit table is awesome enough to balance it out, but this hasn't come up because a crit against low-level enemies generally kills them. I was told that one result on my greatsword's crit table would be severing the opponent's hand and dealing d3 Str and Con damage. This was supposed to get me excited about the crit table, but all I can think of is how much it's going to suck finding a 13th-level cleric to regrow my sword hand when an enemy finally confirms a crit.

The rest of the party seems equally frustrated, but the DM really, really, really seems to like his crits and fumbles. I don't want this to ruin the campaign for any of us, so the best alternative would be finding him a less crazy set of crit and fumble tables. I wouldn't be too upset if a random crit or fumble gave me a small bonus or penalty, I just don't want to have a 5% chance of killing a random party member every time I use Power Attack. Any suggestions on where to find/how to create a better fumble table?

Best Answer

My group uses the GameMastery Critical Fumble deck. We don't use it on every natural 1, but we use it on 1's when there's something else going on (in an area that's Unhallowed, for example, or in a cursed place or wild magic place or plane of the Abyss) to add to the atmosphere of threat besides a random roll penalty. It is also available as iFumble as an iPhone app. There are Melee, Ranged, Natural, and Magic options (so 1's on spellcasting rolls can have magical side effects as well).

Randomly drawn examples:

  • Melee: "I Told You It Was Sharp" - You take 1d6 points of bleed
  • Ranged: "Klutz" - You drop your weapon
  • Natural: "Got Too Close" - Your attack hit the target, but the target may start a grapple against you for free
  • Magic: "Mind Drain" - You take 1d4 points of ability damage to Int, Wis, or Cha (rolled randomly).

There's 52 cards with all 4 types on each so it doesn't repeat too often. The conditions are unfortunate but not instant death or decapitation type stuff, usually inflicting short term conditions (flat-footed, confused, dazed, etc.). Usually for 1 or a small die of rounds. Pulling some cards... -2 to AC for 1d4 rounds, sickened for 1d6 rounds, confused for 1 round... So this might be a better fumble-selection method than the current table. I do recommend trying to get him to lighten up on fumbles all the time, try to sell him on the idea of "it should happen when, you know, we're in an evil shrine or plane or someone's put a curse on the group or something, that would make it cooler."