My Favourite Fumbles



Send comments and/or criticism to Simon E. Phipp
Created On 17 September 1997
Last Updated On 17 September 1997
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 1997

Having played RuneQuest for 14 years or so, I have seen most of the things the rules can throw at you. One ever-present part of the rules is the occurrence of fumbles. Normally, these pass without comment, but occasionally, one happens which is talked about for years afterwards. Here is a list of the best fumbles I have seen or heard about - most of them are silly things, but at the time they made us laugh and some still do ten years on.

At the climax of a scenario, the party faced a dozen or so Thed and Thanatari Rune Lords/Priests headed by a Lamia with 30 point skin and a 200% shimmer Defence and her personal bodyguard. My character was hit simultaneously by the Lamia's Love Trance and a POW 30 Reverse Chaos which converted him to the enemy side. I teleported over to the Lamia, cast my Shield, Truesword, Bladepower and other damage spells and stood ready to slaughter the rest of the party. They came in, expecting to have to come through me, when my Bastard sword attack fumbled and hit my nearest friend in the head doing critical damage doing some 40 points of damage or so. As I was next to the Lamia, off came her head. Very satisfying. However, I was hit by four Multispell Shatters from the broos 5 SR later and immediately died.

When confronted by a huge Dream Dragon, Derak the Dark Troll took out an amulet gained from the Dragonewts for services rendered and, in his best draconic, said "Look, I have gained this by being a friend of the Dragonewts and am your friend too." However, after a spectacular fumble, what he actually said was "Look, I got this by killing loads of Dragonewts and am going to kill you too". Things went badly after that. Incidentally, the Dream Dragon returned to attack us again and again, but Derak never, ever met the thing afterwards, the swine.

Derak the Dark Troll was engaged in melee with a berserk Great Troll with four arms and two Crushed Mauls when Derak fumbled his attack, hitting himself in the abdomen and taking himself down. The Great Troll now had two attacks at 500% or so and laughed as he swung his maul, fumbled and hit himself in the abdomen, falling beside Derak. Who says life is fair.

Derak the Dark Troll (again) was on point walking through a tunnel with two companions. one either side, when a horde of bats erupted around them. These bats did no damage, they were there to disorient the party and to scare them a little. Derak swung his maul, fumbled badly - two rolls and hit nearest friend in the head doing critical damage - one went down, dead - and hit nearest friend doing maximum damage in the chest, killing the other one. The bats cleared, leaving Derak standing there with two very dead, very angry characters.

Broze Demonslayer was taking part in a carnival/competition scenario and decided to enter the Oratory contest, since he was a master of Oratory. The contestants stood there while a wheel was turned - the language chosen was Seaspeech. Broze could not speak this, so stood there and drooled. Next, Mostali - Broze drooled. Next, Adryami - Broze drooled. Finally Sartarite - "I can speak this" thinks Broze and fumbles - drooling from the wrong side of his mouth. Perhaps you had to be there, but it killed us.

Derak, Zak, Rilldick and Masher (a SIZ 40 Great Troll) were climbing a cliff, roped together when Masher, true to form, fumbled his Climb and fell. "What are you doing?" asked the GM, Zak braced himself and tried to help Masher, Derak and Rilldick had seen Masher fall before and cut their ropes. Zak was pulled off the cliff and fell with Masher. There was an almighty argument over who would go for DI as Masher was a Rune Lord on 6 POW and Zak a Rune Lord-Priest on 18 POW. Zak cast Telekinesis, but Masher grabbed hold of him (it was a long drop) and was too big for the spell. Finally, Zak used Orlanthi DI to take them to the top of the cliff, but was not a happy chappy. The next scenario, the party had to hitch a ride on Griffins across a gorge for which they were charged some exorbitant rate. Half way across, Masher decided that he would not pay, so decided to use Torture to force the Griffin onwards. Unfortunately, he fumbled, snapping its neck and sending both of them plummeting to the ground. Zak was using Telekinesis to fly across the gorge, so Masher used Jumping 4 to jump to Zak and catch hold of his leg, overloading the Telekinesis spell once more. This time, Zak pulled out his sword, chopped off his leg, waited for Masher to hit the ground, flew down, stuck his leg back on and flew away laughing his head off.

Two rival Wind Lords were riding into battle when one of them swung his Bastard Sword and chopped off his mount's head. After a good half hour of mickey taking from the player of the other Wind Lord, play resumed and the other Wind Lord duly fumbled and chopped off his horse's head. Revenge is sweet.

Derak the Dark Troll (master fumbler) was performing a Clan HeroQuest when he had to summon up his Clan Founders to persuade them to agree to something so that his Clan could take a different direction in life. He had the ritual set up and summoned his clan founder, a Mistress Race Troll from the Dawning. He rolled a 10% chance of something greater coming and instead summoned up the founder of Her Clan instead. He managed to exact the agreement from her and then summoned the Male Founder, a Dehori (in his clan, a Dehori helped to found the clan). Once again, he rolled the 10% and summoned instead the founder of the Dehori's Clan and gained its agreement for the course of action. Happy, Derak went off and completed the quest, telling his clan that the founders had agreed. When the priests of Xiola Umbar found out that the Clan had broken age-old agreements with her, they sent the UzUz priests to punish the tribe. Derak summoned his clan founders to show that they had authorised the changes and managed to summon both of them first time. "Agreements, what agreements?" was their reply. This resulted in Derak deafening the priestesses and Xiola Umbar herself as he called upon the Moonsinger cult to fight the Priestesses' Song of Vengeance. (OK, so it's not strictly a fumble story, but it's close enough.)

Solarus Skywatch, Light Son and soon to be hero, was at Snakepipe Hollow in the Chaos Caves when the party had to cross the bridge over the Turtle's Pool. As the bridge was slippery, everyone was asked if they wanted to take precautions. The rest of the party (DEX 21) decided to walk across and made it. Solarus (DEX 13) decided to crawl across on hands and knees, giving him a 95% chance of succeeding. Whoops a daisy - Turtle Fodder! (He now claims never to have been in Snakepipe Hollow - Heroes have that privilege of rewriting history.) There is an addition to this tale, recalled by Ken McCarron who was running at the time, the Turtle was very friendly and swam up to Solarus to try to push him to shore, that is until the spell barrage and flurry of spear attacks came from the terrified Solarus.

Derak the Dark Troll and Zak were about to attack a nest of Krarshti and decided to sneak up on the Rune Lords in their sleeping quarters. As both of them had cast silence and had 200% + Move Silently, this posed no challenge. However, when they reached the Krarshti quarters, they were met by a host of armed and armoured Rune Lords. "Not fair" they cried, only to be asked to make a Listen roll to hear the light tread of Masher the SIZ 40 Great Troll with 30% Move Silently trying his best to sneak up along the corridor he had just found - a fumbling Great Troll makes a hell of a lot of noise.

Derak, the Illuminated and Unbeatable PC Death Lord, is summoned to the presence of the Lord General of Death who has obtained a Detect Law and a Detect Chaos matrix which he intends to use to check his Death Lords for Illumination or the taint of Chaos. As he goes down the line, he casts the spell once, and only once, for each Death Lord. He reaches Derak, who is now bricking it, and points the Detect Chaos matrix at him and rolls a fumble, causing the matrix to obviously malfunction. He then points the Detect Law matrix at Derak only for Derak's immense Luck Field to kick in and cause another fumble and another malfunction. Having had two malfunctions of his matrices, The Lord General of Death throws them away, decides that Derak is clean, after all he was one of the premier slayers of Chaos at that time, and appoints him head of a group of Death Lords tasked to hunt down suspected Illuminates within the cult of Zorak Zoran. Surprisingly enough, once Head of the Inquisition, Derak managed to find out that most of his political rivals were, in fact, Illuminates and servants of various Chaos Cults whom he quickly killed and destroyed every last trace. Hmmmm ........

Zak was on a HeroQuest to Hell and was on the border of the Styx. He had just gained a Shield with pemanent Great Parry (I know, I hadn't expected him to defeat the foe but he did) and was crowing as only Zak could. He met an NPC encounter who challenged him to a discus contest. Zak, being so full of himself decided to throw the new Shield as it was a small, conveniently shaped shield. The fumble meant that the shield went in a random direction for 1D6 metres - splash! Ha, ha, ha.

The party had decided to go against Ralzakark and to finish him off. Unfortunately, the Broo Demigod had a pet Hydra which had a Chaos Feature that it could spit its venom up to its STR in metres with a skill of POWx5%. This alone had previously killed party members. Add that to the fact that it regenerated all damage done to it while in water and lived in a pond and you get the picture of how tough it was. (It had something like 50 point acid/venom and a chaos feature that made it twice as strong - I don't mess about with these things). So, the party had gained a Black Stone to Kill Chaos and threw it at the Hydra with Sureshot and a 200% Throw skill which duly fumbled and went towards a PC. Fortunately, he had Telekinesis and, after Teleporting away, sped the stone to its rightful target. (I was feeling generous that day!)

During the Dorastor Campaign, I had a favourite NPC - the Giant King of NeverDead who I played as an arch-enemy, constantly trying to defeat the party and generaly failing through bad luck, party prowess or plain NPC incompetance. Once such occasion arose when the party went into HellWood to do the elves a favour. The Giant King followed them and quickly overtook them, going to their destination and disguising himself as a tree (Look, it was a good plan, he had an excellent disguise skill and was tree height, all he needed was a few branches to hold on to and a good roll and he was laughing.) Unfortunately, he fumbled his disguise and stood there on the edge of the clearing holding two branches in his hands. Bolgar, Brother of the Bull, appraoched the clearing and took a quick look around. On a Scan roll he would have seen the Giant King. Unfortunately, all he saw was a load of trees, including one which would have looked Giant-shaped had he not rolled a 100. Boy was I surprised as a GM.

The dagger was a Sever Spirit matrix which cast an infinite POW sever spirit at the target on contact. The target was a hideous and incredibly powerful hydra. The unfortunate victim was a brave duck who unfortunately counted as the thrower's friend, but not for long......

On being grabbed by a crocodile on the left arm, a sword attack went horribly wrong, causing a "Hit self doing maximum damage" result. Luckily, the sword cut off the left arm leaving a bemused crocodile and a PC floating happily to the surface.

The PC was a minotaur who had previously nearly wiped out the party when is specialed its attack and went into Battle Rage as the broos ran off screaming. The situation was crossing a river. The minotaur was in a rope chain, everyone went across one at a time for safety reaons - all the PCs could pull a character out if he got into trouble. The minotaur went across and fumbled his Swimming roll, going under water. The PCs grabbed hold of the rope only to realise "He's just taken damage". As they saw an angry oad of bubbles rise up to the surface, the PCs just stood there for a while until the bubbles stopped, then pulled the corpse out to loot it. Party Spirit is a wonderful thing.

The first fumble I witnessed - a fanatical Humakti wielding a greatsword fumbled and neatly removed his own head. We laughed and laughed. For some reason, Martyn did not.

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