Nov 17

Episode 122 – Failing Forwards!


With your hosts, Mike and Liz! This week Mike talks to us about Failing forwards, and why you should think about implementing it. Liz goes through some of her choices for those who are stuck in the D&D rut and want to try something else, and no group topic this week because we babble SO MUCH! Enjoy!

Geeky Week!

  • 7th Sea!

  • Mage! Try to give a little recap… might be sketchy!


Mike’s Topic!

Mike babbles about “failing forwards” – not because he knows anything about it, but because he’s trying to understand.  How do you have your PCs fail, yet still feel they’re in the game, and still have things moving forward?

Liz’s Topic!

For the D&D players – a list of games that get away from the standard D&D affair. From “Completely Out There” to “Closer to Home” suggestions!


Our theme is “Slow Burn” by Kevin MacLeod / CC BY 3.0 incompetech.com


  1. Jesse

    I’ve actually taken steps to implementing this “falling forward” technique into my own games. When playing Mouse Guard, they have a very similar attitude towards skills checks: If you fail, either you succeed but at a cost, or you fail and something happens because of it. Basically, they want to get rid of players trying the same skill over and over and over again until they either finally succeed or get bored, give up, and go home.

    Take, for instance, your lockpicking challenge. Say the rogue attempts to pick the lock, but fails. Well, he only failed by 5; therefore, he succeeded, but at the same time he perhaps broke his lockpick tools, or perhaps he’s now angered that it took him so long to perform such a menial task (and for the rest of the day, he takes a penalty to Charisma and Will checks) or he may have cut his hand (and maybe now is taking bleed damage, or takes a penalty to Dexterity checks). On the other hand, if the rogue fails too much then he doesn’t open the lock. However (like you said), he made so much noise or took so long that a guard wandered by. At that point, you can even make it so that the guard has a key to the door and the party can still move forward if they defeat him.

    I think the hardest part of this is breaking your normal “everybody roll me a climb check” mentality – this is something that I have not been able to do yet on a regular basis. However, on the handful of times that I have been able to remember to do this, it’s worked out much better than simply saying “You fail; now what”.

    If you’re interested, I’ve included a link to the Mouseguarding format that I’ve developed (with much help from other people like Chatty DM, Chaotic GM, and a couple of other sources that my brain is failing to recall at this moment.

    I really just wish that I’d found out about this before I made Kal do a climb check…


  2. Whodo Voodoo

    Couple of quick comments / questions on the other systems discussions as I think everybody should try and expand their experience, even if they’re not in a rut.

    System wise Fate Core is a great system. I’m curious Liz but when you mentioned playing Marvel with it is that hack available only somewhere? I’ve got the Cortex+ Marvel Heroic game and would be interested in seeing how it was handled in Fate.

    Iron Kingdoms – I believe this is 2d6 based and builds on the Warmachine mechanics though I think there was a d20 version at some point.

    Other systems I’d recommend in terms of being different from D&D / Pathfinder / d20:

    Shadowrun – d6 dice pool system with its crazy cyberpunk / fantasy mashup setting

    Call of Cthulhu – Percentile based and such a different take on gaming where ‘winning’ is really a case of holding off evil for that little bit longer, all at the cost of everything you hold dear.

    Legend of the Five Rings – Mike has talked about this a lot but just to reiterate a great system in a unique and compelling world.

    Torg – A multigenre setting with an epic world spanning plot, great game and a good example of early 90’s mechanics.

Talk to us!

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