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<   No. 11   2003-01-31   >

Comic #11

1 Kryos: I polymorph into a mighty hunting creature!
2 GM: Okay, make a spell roll.
3 Kyros: D'oh! Critical failure.
4 Mordekai, Lambert, Alvissa: Ho ho ho ho ho ho!!!
4 Kyros: {now with the appearance of Steve} That's not funny!

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2011-11-11 Rerun commentary: Looking back at this to write this commentary, I saw the opening line of script in the database browser before looking at the actual script. I thought I'd have to write a commentary about how the Allosaurus has already become a running gag, what with Kyros polymorphing himself into one.

And then I saw the comic and realised I'd pulled an opposite joke out! Yes, the old comics can surprise even me now.

So anyway, this joke is built around the concept of critical failure in roleplaying games. Often in a game you will need to make a roll to determine if you succeed at some task. On a good roll, you succeed, on a poor one you fail, and on a really bad roll you critically fail, which means the worst possible outcome. In GURPS, you roll three 6-sided dice for such rolls, and to succeed you need to roll less than or equal to your skill score (so that higher skills give you better chances of succeeding. This means high rolls are bad, and 18 is the worst possible result - a critical failure.

GMs are generally meant to interpret a critical failure in creatively bad ways. A magic spell that critically fails can produce all sorts of backfires, reverse effects, and things generally considered undesirable and contrary to the intended outcome.


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