All for 1’s and 1’s for all.

All in the wrist


I love my gaming,by that I mean role-play and character ,especially Dungeons & Dragons 4e.
I like to make it to the tallest tower or the deepest dungeon. Although 90% of the games I control and GM. I like to succeed and I like my players to succeed and walk away with a story to remember and a tale to tell.
With all this success there must be times when I have failed or stumbled or dropped or broken something. This is where I use a roll of a 1 to mean that little bit more than just a miss or a “it didn’t quite work” moment.

As a GM I use a fumble chart of my own making to drive the creative brain juices, because when caught off guard by a fail I may need that extra help in my description of a failed action.

Take for an example the art of Pick pocketry. Even if you make your thievery roll, the pockets owner may still feel or notice what you are up to.
What if you roll a 1, now what?
Does he attack you straight out. Seems a bit  harsh. Will he call the guard. Will he call Thief ?
There is an infinite number of results that could happen, so why on a roll of a 1 will most players and GMs just shy away and say you fail to get or find what you are looking for.
I myself am a very descriptive player and Games Master. I think this and I have also been told, so it must be true. Any opportunity to add that drama or excitement to the game then I will.

Here is my guideline chart.
As combat is the time when most 1s are rolled.
That is, what I have mostly on my chart.  I take what it says and embellish upon it as I go.
As DnD is a D20 system I made a D20 chart.

Roll.         Description:
1      loose grip on weapon/Tool.
2     Slip on bloody/wet floor.
3     Weapon/Tool breaks (unless magical)
4     Juggle weapon/tool/ & Drop it.
5     Weapon/Tool gets tangled in loose clothing.
6     Off balance.
7     Out of position, left open to attack.
8     Last action winded you. Out of  breath.
9     Catch yourself with own weapon/Tool.
10   Strike floor with weapon/Tool.
11   Purse/money pouch falls open.
12   A fly/insect in mouth.
13   Misjudged distance. Over extended.
14   Drop weapon/tool & kick it away.
15   Armour/Clothing comes loose.
16   Sneeze/Cough.
17   Weapon/Tool caught in Door/Furniture/Wall/Rock/Tree.
18   Weapon/Tool caught in enemies Armour/Clothing.
19   Nose/eyes/mouth begin to bleed.
20  Complete fail/Miss, yet by the luck of the Gods it succeeds.

There is still a multitude of possibilities and for each one you could give a game bonus/Minus. It’s totally free thinking. Like I mentioned this is just a way to help you decide that That “1”can be a lot more interesting than you imagine.

What’s your take on the use of ONEs in an RPG. Use them to their full advantage or Forget them?



  1. I like to describe how a PC failed with a 1 too. I definitely did it more in 3.x which had fumbles as an optional rule during combat – I used various different tables and rules over the 9 years or so I ran the game.

    For 4e, it happens less because there are no consequences in the rules for rolling a 1 and a roll of 1 on a skill check may not even be a failure.

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