Fumbles are part and parcel to many game systems, especially the d20 system. It is amazing to think that you have a 1 in 20 chance of royally messing up your attack, and your odds of fumbling actually increase as you level up and gain more attacks per round.
In Laying Waste, a natural 1 is treated as a fumble, but players are allowed a variety of ways to avoid the ill effects. These become easier to avoid as one becomes more experienced. Regardless though, it is possible to still fumble, even with a very high level character.
When a character fumbles on an attack roll, they roll for a fumble effect. Based on the effect, there is a save of some degree to avoid the affect. The save rewards more experienced characters, allowing them a greater chance to avoid the ill effects of a fumble.
Anytime a character rolls a natural 1 when using a weapon, they have the possibility to fumble their attack.
Fumbles are severe mishaps that can cause great consternation to combatants and possibly change the course of the battle completely.
In any case, the fumbling character gains a saving throw to avoid the effects. If the fumbling character passes the saving throw, they instead simply miss, but do not suffer any additional ill effects.
You might notice that the DC's to recover from fumbles do not necessarily match the DC's for other actions. This is purposeful, and please use the fumble DC's as listed (base 20). The DC's listed are in response to a specific severity due to the fumble, not the action itself.
For instance, fixing a broken weapon or healing bleed damage might only need a DC 15 check per the core rules. However, because of the unique situation, the DC's have been increased.
FUMBLES AS A ROLEPLAYING OPPORTUNITY:
Yowza! You just rolled a natural one, and rolled 'Attack the Darkness!' Your fumble save has failed and your opponents gain concealment against your attacks for a few rounds. It sucks to be you!
You ask yourself though, why the darkness, that makes no sense at all. Did it just come out of nowhere?
No. The critical hits and fumbles presented are just names and effects. It is up to players and GM's alike to turn these effects into great roleplaying opportunities.
Maybe the wind has your eyes watering, or something blew into your eye. Perhaps you struck yourself and aren't seeing straight. Each option presented can be role-played in a wide variety of options, and we encourage you to do so.
The critical hits and fumbles change the dynamics of game play immensely, adding unforeseen events that change the plans of both players and their adversaries. Don't feel bad about a fumble, use it as an excuse to do something fun.
LAYING WASTE TERMINOLOGY
Ability Damage or Drain – Some attacks or special abilities cause ability damage or drain, reducing the designated ability score by the listed amount. While ability damage can be healed naturally, ability drain is permanent and can only be restored through magic.
Bleed – A creature that is taking bleed damage takes the listed amount of damage at the beginning of its turn. Bleeding can be stopped by a Heal check or through the application of any spell that cures hit point damage (even if the bleed is ability damage). Some bleed effects cause ability damage or even ability drain. Bleed effects do not stack with each other unless they deal different kinds of damage. When two or more bleed effects deal the same kind of damage, take the worse effect. In this case, ability drain is worse than ability damage.
Bonus Damage – if an effect calls for bonus damage, add this amount to the base weapon damage to the critical effect. Bonus damage stacks, and can occasionally be applied multiple times by the same critical effect. Bonus damage is frequently the result of a target’s successful saving throw against a critical effect, trading the debilitating effect for bonus damage instead.
Critical Effect – the wound or hindrance that affects a target with when a successful severity check is made. All targets gain a saving throw against critical effects if listed.
Critical Hit – any time you roll within your weapon’s threat range, it is a critical hit. Critical hits deal maximum damage, even if they do not have a critical effect.
Critical Effect – When you achieve at least a light critical on your severity check, you deal a critical effect. Some feats work differently depending on whether or not you achieve a critical effect or simply a critical hit.
Heal Check – A Heal check is a skill check using the Heal skill to tend to injuries of all kinds. The Heal skill is now a very useful skill for all characters. Even having a few ranks in Heal (basic first aid knowledge) could allow you to save a party member’s life, or possibly your own! Severity Check – the secondary roll after critically hitting used to determine the relative strength of the critical hit. If you achieve a minimum of a DC 20 on your severity check, you deal a critical effect.
Threat Range – The numbers that your weapon critically hits on when you roll a d20. Some feats and spells can modify this.