Critical Fumble Deck

A few years back, Paizo released a deck of effects caused by critical fumbles, and I stumbled across one this week at Half Price Books, so I picked it up.  They come roughly as a set of playing cards (same size, 52 cards, easily shuffled or handed out face down at the beginning of the session for dramatic effect, etc), with four effects per card to cover multiple scenarios for when an attacker rolls a 1 on the d20 and a Melee, Ranged, Natural, or Magic attack fails miserably.

These effects should provide most sessions with plenty of high-stakes outcomes without unbalancing encounters, especially if they are used on both sides of the action.  For instance, picture a dangerous troll clobbering his own brethren in his froth-filled bloodlust (and untimely critical fumble roll).

There are times when the storyteller will want to determine unique campaign-relevant effects (I am fully in favor of this, and really enjoy the challenge of having to think on my feet), but for those times when you’re looking for a quick effect without resorting to lookup tables or delaying the action, these cards should provide great action-packed flavor without much effort on the part of the storyteller.

The size of a regular playing deck, these cards are portable enough to take to cons and weekend sessions, and make a great addition to any GM’s tacklebox, especially if you can find it at half off!  The 52 cards provide enough variety that you shouldn’t encounter the same effects in the same session, or even across multiple sessions, unless you have cursed dice (I’m looking at you, Frank, and your much-maligned alien dice!).

Kudos to Paizo for thinking 4-dimensionally in their simple design of this useful role playing supplement.

Sample effects include:

  • Drop your weapon or have it lock up on you (ranged)
  • Spell backfires
  • Hit your companions or self instead
  • Take strength, dexterity, or constitution damage
  • Fall prone, being dazed or otherwise indisposed
  • Suffer -1, -2, or -4 to hit for 1d4 rounds
  • Sickened for 1d6 rounds
  • 1d3 of your spell effects are dispelled
  • Provoke attacks against yourself


Posted in Review and tagged by with no comments yet.