Monday, April 6, 2009

Critical Hits and Misses

There was a really cool post today at the RPG Dumping Ground concerning some pretty nifty tables for determining the results of critical hits and critical fumbles. I really like this sort of thing. I think it adds a great amount of drama and tension to the combat. My only concern is that these rules seem a little, well, harsh. I mean a critical hit or fumble is going to happen 5% of the time. It seems a little bit of a stretch that a professional fighter, even a novice one, will screw up this badly one out of every twenty attacks. Maybe this is one of those instances in which verisimilitude should be sacrificed to more fun and free wheeling game play. Maybe not.

The author of RPG Dumping Ground claims that his gaming groups loved these rules over the years and I’m willing to take him at his word. Still . . . I’m not sure. While I love this set of tables and the attendant results, I’m concerned that going to the table 5% of the time will result in too much gritty realism. What of the rules they use in 3.5 that require one to roll and confirm the critical hit or miss?

Any thoughts? Am I being too concerned? I guess there’s no way to know for sure without playing it out, but I would love to hear some ideas before putting it into practice. Does anyone know of any other good systems for adding new possibilities to critical hits and misses?


Jeff Rients said...

I use those same tables. They're from Dave Hargrave's Arduin Grimoire. But Hargrave notes that the charts shouldn't be used for more than one strike in 400. So I use a confirm roll in my games. A natural 20 followed by a 20 to confirm gets you on the crit chart, while a 1 followed by a 1 is a fumble.

It keeps crits pretty dang rare.

Ironbeard said...

Thanks Jeff. The 1 in 400 chance seems much more plausible.

I was doing in little research in the index for old Dragon magazines and discovered a couple other alternate methods as well. I like the Hargrave system as it seems to be the grittiest.

post festum said...

Oh, I like these tables very much. I've never seen a copy of Hargrove's Arduin, but I wholeheartedly agree that these tables or a variation thereof would bring a great deal of the red tooth and claw of sword&sorcery to your game.

I look forward to it!

post festum said...

Pardon: That's "Hargrave" not "Hargrove".

Ironbeard said...

Cool isn't it? I especially like the chance of losing 1d5 fingers or having ones nose or genitals torn off. When characters reach upper levels, they will definitely have the scars to show for it.