Home > 4e, Adventure, DnD, Lore, RPGs, Tips > 4e Skill Fumble – House Rule

4e Skill Fumble – House Rule

December 30, 2011

We’ve been having so much fun with iCrit and iFumble, we were talking last session about fumble results for 4e skills. I suppose you could have a critical success, and in fact, my epic 4e Thief gained two successes in a skill challenge when I rolled a 20 on one, but really fumbles are more fun. At least for the GM.

Now before I raise the ire of all hardcore 4e players out there, I know that according to the Rules As Written, in a skill check a 1 is not necessarily a failure and a 20 is not a guaranteed success (though usually they qualify as failures or successes if the challenge is even moderately level appropriate), but put your books away. This is house rule time. As a bonus its presented in a massive table. What is D&D without house rules and massive tables?

A few of the obvious skills have failure conditions written in the rules already. Fail an acrobatics/athletics climb check, you fall. But what if you fell really awkwardly, or what if you fell on your head? What about massive failures at diplomacy or intimidate? I present the Skyland Games 4e Skill Fumble Table. Not only does it address consequences for failure, it has degrees of failure based on how far away from the DC the skill check landed.

It also addresses the somewhat irritating mechanic (to me anyway) that a ranger can fail a nature check, and due to the luck of the dice, a paladin could pass it. This will make someone think twice about using a skill they have no business attempting. It could certainly heighten the tension at the table during a skill challenge. There are few truly tense skill challenges I can remember from the many 4e adventures I’ve been on.

Check it out, and let us know what you think if you end up using it: SkillFumble1

— Edit: An astute reader pointed out I am terrible at mathematical symbols. This I freely admit. Updated the PDF to remove obfuscation. —

Categories: 4e, Adventure, DnD, Lore, RPGs, Tips Tags: , , ,
  1. Fumbler
    December 31, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Fun, if a tad bit fatal tables, especially since this is a single die system 🙂

    Other than that, I think you got your greater-than and less-than signs mixed up (and the numbers to what they are compared to as well, while you’re at it.

    Otherwise, strictly reading, the first option happens when you fail by more than 4, the if more than 9, third if more than 14, but the last column happens if you fail by less than 14 🙂

    • December 31, 2011 at 11:38 am

      Good catch. I updated the PDF. You’d be surprised how resilient 4e characters are. What looks fatal on the paper, rarely ends up being so.

  2. January 2, 2012 at 12:04 am

    I really like that table. One of the things keeping me from using fumbles with skill checks is not really knowing what a fumble on a History check should be. Amnesia for the rest of the day. Awesome!

    • January 2, 2012 at 8:29 am

      Thanks! Feel free to modify it to your heart’s content. The more severe fumbles aren’t likely to occur until paragon or epic tiers, but use it how you like!

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