Fumble Chart

Critical hits bring a lot of fun to the table so you would think that critical misses could do the same. D&D now fully embraces a natural roll of 1 to be considered an automatic miss but can anything more interesting also happen? These other possible results are usually referred to as fumbles. Fumble charts are often either praised for how they introduce unpredictability to the game or maligned for being so punitive to the player characters. On paper they sound great but in practice they usually result in doubling the punishment instead of doubling the fun. Let’s see if we can come up with some “interesting failures” for a fumble chart.


I had a few goals in mind when thinking about this chart:

For the DM:

  1. Table should be compact: it shouldn’t get in the way when not in use and fast to reference when needed
  2. There shouldn’t be additional bookkeeping necessary (no ongoing effects or custom rules, for example)
  3. Should be mostly system-agnostic

For the players:

  1. Create fun randomness and hopefully some storytelling moments
  2. Add interesting inconveniences to combat with maybe sometimes ways for players to cleverly benefit
  3. Reward players that have back-up plans (that dagger I keep in my boot is useful!)

Some notes:

  1. To determine a random direction, use a d8 where each number represents each of the 8 directions in a grid (your choice but as an example: 1 means north, 2 north-east, etc.)
  2. For non-combat fumbles I makeup something on the spot (Sneak: you step on a sharp object causing you to led out a brief but loud yelp; Climbing fall: a random object in your inventory shatters/breaks)

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