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Making Things Go Awry

This tool is a list of possible outcomes for failed rolls. I’m currently working on a greatly expanded version of this tool that will have specific ideas for each skill and type of magic, as well as a table of random magic effects.

This is a digital artwork of a yellow and green budgerigar sitting on a branch with a tiger head that is the same color as its yellow feathers.

This is a digital artwork of a yellow and green budgerigar sitting on a branch with a tiger head that is the same color as its yellow feathers.

 

Here are some ideas for the outcomes of failed rolls.

  • Magic rolls: When magic is being used, a failure means the magic has gone awry. Options include creating the opposite of the desired effect, the magic affecting a different set of people than desired, negative consequences to the caster, or the creation of strange, unexpected effects. There will usually be some relationship between the unexpected effect and what was attempted, though the connection might be quite bizarre. Magic gone awry can benefit opponents, hinder protagonists, or just make the overall situation more challenging.
  • Knowledge rolls: The most common result of a failed knowledge roll is a lack of information. For example, in the heat of the moment, the character can’t remember what they learned about zombies. However, if the character has no training in the type of knowledge they are attempting to use, the game master can instead decide that the character remembers a false piece of information. If the character has training in this type of knowledge, the game master can decide that the character remembers an unproven theory that contains both false and true information.
  • Awareness rolls: The most common result of a failed awareness roll is a lack of information. For example, the surrounding crowd is too noisy for the character to overhear what two people are whispering to each other. However, if it is appropriate to the situation, the game master can instead have the character perceive things in a misleading way, such as hearing a phrase out of context.
  • Social rolls: Something has gone wrong with the social interaction. Options include an accidental insult, an ineffective lie, an interruption, a misunderstanding, a person jumps to a false conclusion, an unexpected reaction (such as a character trying to intimidate a skilled warrior and instead being challenged to a duel), social awkwardness (such as a character stumbling over their words), and physical awkwardness (such as a character spilling their drink on the person they are talking to).
  • Physical rolls: When physical actions fail, something has prevented the character from being successful. Options include a fumble, an object breaking, an opponent’s successful action (such as a talented enemy warrior tripping an attacking fighter), an unexpected feature of the environment (such as a stealthy rogue moving silently and setting off a magical alarm), or the appearance of a new obstacle (such as a detective secretly tailing a suspect that is suddenly blocked by a group of children who are chasing after a ball).

 

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