Combat in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is efficient yet abstract. While the concept of hit points works well when envisioning a tense fight of blood, sweat, parrying, near misses, and fatigue, it falls on its knees the minute your character takes a solid and brutal blow to the head.
How exactly are you supposed to adjudicate a broken arm, a gouged eye, a lacerated liver, or a crushed spine? Torn Asunder: Critical Hits—Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Edition provides a complete, comprehensive and award-winning system for critical hits in any Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The system is elegant and easy to use, it does not do away with hit points, or even alter the combat rules, it simply provides an optional way to deal with critical hits besides piling on additional damage. Critical hits are real hits—disabling function, mangling body parts, and leaving real wounds behind that have lasting effects.
Torn Asunder pulls no punches; it provides a realistic and effective injury system for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, covering all creatures, anatomies, and body types. Included as well are rules for natural healing, scarification, and herbal treatments. Torn Asunder also provides a wide variety of resources allowing characters to take advantage of the new system, from quick and precise prestige classes to devastating weapons and spells to powerful and essential magical devices. Don't just beat your opponents into submission, literally tear them limb from limb.
The content of the book is pretty much as I expected it to be and I'll use much of it in my upcoming campaign.
My gripe with Torn Asunder PF dition is that it contains numerous editing errors and oversights, both in tables and in the text.
For a book that is a revision and update of an original work, I really expected more polish.
No, it doesn't change the quality of the game mechanics and information presented, which is great and well worth the price of the book. However it leaves one with a feeling that the product was rushed to print without bothering to proof-read it.
This product is 146 pages long. It starts with a cover, credits, and ToC. (5 pages)
Chapter 1 – Critical Hits (36 pages)
It gets into what are critical hits, how to tell what kind of critical you have done(mild, moderate, serious), Next is a generic random hit location chart.(arm, leg, tail, torso, wing, head) Next it gets into what exactly happens when a crit is applied to a body part based on the severity of the three crit levels. Afterwords it gets into different types, say something with no arms, it also adds in mouth and sensory organs. Followed by random hit location charts for varies types of body profiles, a total of 9. Now in this part they have a equal chance to hit all body parts, they get into their reasons why they did this. While I understand why they did it, I completely disagree with it. It is simpler yes but for me lessened the use of the tables, though the called shot penalty was nice addition. It has a small section about special creatures like a dryder and how to handle them.
Bleeding is discussed for those that want more realism. How much dmg per round from bleeding to hp and or con by body type. Hit point reduction due to lose of a limb. If there is less of the monster they have fewer max hp.
Called shots, this part expands the section on called shots, how to do them, what can be targeted and what the effects are when you do target them. There is 7 called shot area's with special effects while using this book if they are hit. The chapter ends with a small section on fumbles.
Chapter 2 – Healing (40 pages)
This part gets into advanced use of healing, such as rolling well and getting more healing per day with the skill. How to stop bleeding effects, difference between short and long term care. DC mods on how serious the wounds are and how long certain wounds take to fully heal(such as broken bones). Herbalism is list all the PF herbs and 11 new types and the effects they all have while using these new critical rules. It has a table for treating types of wounds with specific equipment such as master work healers kit etc. There is 30 new equipment items.
Magic healing is talked about next, just what magic can heal by type of spell used. It also has a section on scarring from sever wounds and the effect magic has on them. There is 9 new spells most deal with healing effects by this new system, but some like Finger of Life and the greater version lets you cast lower level healing spells at a range. There is also 10 new magic items.
Artificial limbs, what book of limb severing criticals would be complete with out mundane, fantastical and magical replacements? There is far to many types both mundane and magical for me to go into. It does list all the issues with having ones, effects on skill checks, any bonuses or negatives to them.
Chapter 3 – Armor (6 pages)
It starts off talking about partial armor. The effects it has of wearing only parts of a suit of armor. I liked this section a lot, I wish they would have expanded it even more. Next is 3 new magical armors followed by 2 new magical effects. Armor as damage reduction, it has rules on how to use and apply armor as damage reduction instead of armor class.
Chapter 4 – Critical Characters (14 pages)
2 new PrC's, one focused on causing criticals and one a healing Prc focused on fixing them. There is a new base class, a mundane healer. A healer that uses herbs and special abilities to heal others. A replacement healer for low magic campaigns or a nice NPC class. There is 17 new feats, mostly pretty decent.
Critical hits with spells. It has a small section on spells with a chance to hit can score a critical. There is 8 new spells that take advantage of these new rules in a offensive way or protect against them. The section ends with a small section on if people fail their saves vs spells badly enough the spell should do more with a table to that effect.
Chapter 5 – Tools of the Trade (10 pages)
This section has 20 new weapons, 3 new magic effects, 2 new magic weapons, 3 new magic items, a section on traps doing critical damage and what the effects would be. The section ends with a basic addition of adding firearms to your campaign world.
Chapter 6 – Of Tooth and Nail (17 pages)
This section 9 new monsters that are fully and greatly detailed along with stat blocks. Following this is 3 new templates with sample monsters of each.
Appendix 1 – Tables (9 pages)
This has all the tables in the book collected together on these pages. While nice, with the border it doesn't make them all that print friendly. I really wish the border had been left off of the Appendix section for printing reasons. Nice idea though.
Appendix 2 – Spells (2 pages)
This section has spell list by class for all the new spells.
Appendix 3 – Body Profiles (3 pages)
This has charts that can be filled out to keep track of criticals hits by body location.
It ends with a OGL, 2 blank pages for notes and back cover. (4 pages)
Closing Thoughts. The artwork is good black and white art all and all. The text is on a blank background which would normally make for a very print friendly book. But there is large border graphics mostly black and white but with red blood running down it, with the size of the border it would be rough on a printer making it less print friendly. I found the book to be a bit of a mixed bag, some stuff I liked and some I did not.
The book does give you base rules for critical hits to spice up your game but it is a pretty simple system, which if that’s all you want great. But if you was wanting it for a bit more “realism” in your games then the simple system is more of a good starting point. Personally I would have liked to have seen all the tables with different chances to hit different area's and or perhaps expand the table to include things like sensory organs, vitals(like sensitive areas) etc. I can use the base charts and make my own but would have been nice to have.
The healing chapter was nice and likely the best done chapter, the new spells, equipment and rules I felt all add to the game. Prosthetic limbs for mundane ones was good and the magic section was ok. It makes sense to have them and was fairly complete on what you could think of to add to one. The armor section was nice, though I would have liked to have seen the partial armor section and rules expanded. Another section I wish would have been a lot bigger is the one on traps. The new PrC's I was meh about, they showcase the new rules but I wasn't wowed by them. The new non-caster healer class I liked a lot better, it makes sense such a person would exist in the world even with clerics, unless there is a cleric on every corner.
The last two chapters could have honestly mostly been left off. While some of the new weapons where nice for the most part most of them wasn't needed and same with the monsters. Nothing wrong with them but they felt out of place in the book.
All of which brings me to some of the flaws with the book I notice beyond what I already mentioned. There is not bookmarks and there is a error on the very first table of the book with crit severity, it is easy to figure out what they meant though. There is a few other errors, some spelling or things that should not be as clear as they should be. Not a ton but more than I am use to seeing. Another thing I didn't like that the spells, equipment was broken up in different chapters. I would have much rather them have a magic chapter with all the spells in it, one for magic items and then a chapter for equipment. Would have made it easier to find things. Which is the final flaw with the book layout.
So whats my rating? Well if you are looking for a simple critical hit system to add to your games to add some variety it does accomplish that. It just has a few flaws and some added stuff you likely won't care about(like the monsters). If you was wanting a more “realistic” system, you will be less happy. Even then it is a good starting point to build from though and some of the sections are very nice. I am giving it a over all rating of 3 stars, if you are happy with a simple system add ½ a star.
I was really looking forward to this and got it in time to take it with me on my holiday vacation. However, I was really disappointed to see a huge typo in the very first table of the book .... the very first one!
The table reads as follows:
"Table 1-1: Critical Effect Factor Levels
Factor Level Severity
5 above minimum attack roll Mild
10above minimum attack roll Moderate
5 above minimum attack roll Serious"
The above is typed just as it is in the book, so there are two typos .... one is obviously minor, but the other is a seriously poor typo (the 5 should be a 15!).
I don't mean to be unforgiving, but come on! The entire mechanics of the entire book is based on this tiny chart and they can't even get that correct? It made me not even want to read any further. Come on Dragon Wing - you can't find a typo in your very first table?