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REVIEW: The Devious Book of Fumbles & Crits: A 4th Edition D&D Supplement

I attended the 4th UK Tweetup event on Saturday 16th March and was lucky enough to win this book in the raffle. Here is my review.

Details

  • 107 pages
  • Colour cover art, non-colour illustrations inside the book.
  • Price: £9.29 / $15.99
  • Link: US Amazon, UK Amazon

This book aims to introduce consequences for PCs and monster rolling a natural 1 or a natural 20 while engaged in combat in 4E. PCs already get the bonus damage if they have a magical weapon when rolling a natural 20 and a natural 1 is an automatic miss, but this book aims to breathe some fresh variation into the consequences.

The book is split into 6 main sections and 2 one page sections. The six sections are:

  • Magical Blunders – For when a magic using PC rolls a critical fumble (16 pages)
  • Magic Triumphant – for when a magic using PC rolls a critical hit (10 pages)
  • Melee and Ranged Fumbles – for when non-magic using PCs roll a critical fumble< (18 pages)/li>
  • Melee Triumphant – for when non-magic using PCs roll a critical hit (14 pages)
  • Monster Fumbles – for when monsters roll a critical fumble (12 pages)
  • Monster Criticals – for when monsters roll critical hits (10 pages)

When someone rolls a critical hit or miss you consult the relevant table and roll a d20 to determine what fate has befallen them. Some entries have certain requirements (such as Ravening Scavengers which has the requirement that the fight must be taking place where scavengers could be nearby) or require a roll on another table (such as the Ball of Nerves, where you have to roll to see what biological effect your nervousness has resulted in). Others are resolved instantly.

Some of the entries are designed to be used separately out of the context of the critical/fumbles. Mainly these are magic items (helpfully reproduced in the appendix in a a photocopy-then-cut-out-friendly manner. In addition to the magic items, there are new monsters and hazards.

The author suggests different uses for the book, one of which is to only use the tables the first time a natural 1 or 20 is rolled in combat (so as not to slow down the game too much). This would probably be my preferred method as well. However there are quick fumble tables (see below) that could be used constantly.

It is clear that a lot of thought has been put into the content of this book, with some wonderfully flavourful entries (what DM could resist a player mis-casting a spell that opened up a “planar wound”?). Splitting up the tables into the above categories makes sense to me. My one major gripe would be that there should be an easily accessible table (inside front page, inside back page or the middle pages), that has the six categories listed with the d20 result and exactly what page each entry was, so you only need to be looking at one table while you are actually playing and go straight to the correct page for what you rolled.

In addition to the more in-depth tables, there are two “quick fumbles” tables. These contain effects that are much simpler (such as you are dazed until the beginning of your next turn) and would not add much extra time to combat. These tables take up two facing pages and so could easily be used during combat by just having the book open at that page. While the quick fumbles tables take up far less time to resolve, they sacrifice the very interesting flavour that the more involved tables have. It is nice that the book covers both bases – interesting & involved and quick & dirty.

While I am not a fan of the art on the cover, I love the illustrations peppered throughout the book, despite not being in colour. The art breaks up the tables nicely and helps get across the flavour of some of the entries.

Conclusion
This book would certainly add variety and a freshness to a 4E campaign if combat was feeling stale. If you only use the tables the first time an event occurs in combat (or use the quick fumbles tables), then it shouldn’t add too much time to your combats, and if the added time is fun then that should be a good thing, right? I would recommend this book to those that have some spare money and want something a bit different from the usual 4E fare. However, I would not go as far as to say this is a must-buy.

3 comments

  1. BlindGeekUK

    Paul, did you win the softcover or hardcover version?

  2. paulbaalham

    I won the softcover version. when I get in front of a PC that can edit the post, I’ll change it to reflect that.

  3. BlindGeekUK

    I just wondered, because the softcover was a v1 of the book, and the hardcover was an updated v2. I’ve got the pdf from RPGNow, but not sure where i’ve filed it to check if there are overview lists.

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