The Fail Forward rule is a good rule of thumb, but it doesn't tell you how the story moves forward. This is where the table below comes in. Based on the natural roll, it provides clues to what happened.
|1||Worst case scenario||Wait, what did you just call the Elf Queen's mother? Why does everyone draw weapons and point at the door?|
|2||Roll initiative||I deciphered it! It's a summoning scroll. RUN!!|
|3||Property damage||Next time you cross a bridge, leave it there for the next guy, okay?|
|4||Bad injury||That was impressive. Except for the landing. Ouch, my leg!|
|5||They're coming!||Great price you got from the merchant. Wait, why did he alert the gards?|
|6||Consequences later||Whew, he bought that story hook and sinker. Wait, why is the DM smiling?|
|7||Embarrassing...||Oh yes, we do want to hear how you ended up upside down in that tree...|
|8||Educational failure||Now we know the importance of steering on a raft. - Shut up and pull me out of the water.|
|9||Clothing damage||You glued the barbarian's loincloth to a wall?|
|10||Minor injury||My eyebrows! I think someone memorized Explosive Runes this morning...|
|11||Never mention it again||Phew, we made it! - Yeah, but don't tell anyone we escaped in a poncy wig and a frilly dress|
|12||Minor flaw||Impressive! But I didn't know the Crusader was a woman?|
|13||Just a superstition||Thirteen is a lucky number in this game, right?|
|14||Breaking stuff again||Damnit, another lockpick!|
|15||Near miss||Even if you're hanging by the ledge with one hand, it was still an impressive jump.|
|16||How hard can it be?||The lock was a bit too complicated so I blew up the door. Hey, mission accomplished.|
|17||Something else then||The merchant refuses to give you a better price, but he offers the hand of his daughter... No? How about this ancient tome? It's just catching dust on the shelf.|
|18||Let's just pretend it worked||I think the prophecy says something about 72 virgins. Or 72 carafes of wine. Let's go with the first one, sounds better.|
|19||That was damn near perfect||I'll just hand the Shadow Prince his wallet, smile and pretend he didn't notice.|
|20||Not bad... for a human||You need to try the impossible to achieve the impossible. Maybe you didn't make it, but you came as close as anybody ever will.|
Consulting this table for any roll ever is obviously overkill, unless you run a slapstick game. It's meant for these one or two important rolls a session that should mean something, even if the check did not meet the DC.
Bonus: If you have creative players, feel free to give them the gist of the result and let them narrate the details.