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"I want to use the execution combat maneuver!"


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


Ever since my room mate finally bought Skyrim last month he's been doing nothing but talking my ear off as to how amazing it is. However, that's not what this post is about. It's about something I saw the other day as he was playing that caught my eye.

Executions.

It got me thinking...

In a real battle I, Red the Dwarf, may very easily decapitate someone in a single mighty blow! Now, in combat I roll to see if I hit and then I roll for damage if I do. If I manage to hit with a critical, I do up to x3 damage, depending on which weapon I have out. Sure this makes for a mighty hit in a lot of cases, but with a lot of the creatures I'm being thrown up against, I have to swing my axe or sword quite a few times before the enemy finally falls dead. If I want to kill them in one shot I have to first get them into the "helpless" state and then use a coup de grace, which even then doesn't guarantee a one hit kill!

Sure there are rules out there for this and I'm probably just reinventing a wheel that someone else already crafted, probably on a roll of 27 or so, but if not I want to offer up my take on all this.

Thus I have invented the patented, 100% awesome, Red Execution Combat Maneuver!!!

It's simple really. Once per combat I can ask the GM if I can attempt to use an execution against my current target, so as to represent the possibility of a really lucky hit striking true to the heart or their head suddenly leaping from their shoulders in a spectacular spray of blood. This is how it would work:

While within melee range of my target, I roll for a combat maneuver against the target. Naturally, they get a combat maneuver defense roll. Upon the target successfully rolling their CMD, my execution is a wasted flop. However, if they fail their CMD, then the fun begins!!!

They then have to roll fort DC 15, just like they would in a coup de grace situation. If they succeed, my attack does normal damage as if it were a normal melee attack. However, if they fail their fort save, I get to decapitate them in a shower of hot, sticky blood!!!

But...what if I manage to do this to say, I don't know...a dragon? I just happen to roll a successful execution against a full health dragon and kill them in one turn. Totally epic? Absolutely!!! Totally unrealistic? Unfortunately...yea... :( no auto-killing dragons today bub!

So, here's how I think the execution system can be balanced out.

1) You can only attempt this maneuver against opponents no larger than one size category larger than you.
2) The target with more health is harder to attempt an execute against.
3) You have to purchase the feat "Combat Maneuver: Execution."
Let's discuss these a little further shall we?

Size Categories

With every single combat maneuver, the limitation ultimately comes down to one thing: size. Despite the age-old saying that "size doesn't matter," it really does. Sorry guys, but it's true!

If I'm a medium dwarf I can bull rush a large ogre, but not a huge sea serpent. Logically this also means that I should be able to execute an ogre in one blow, but not a sea serpent. This helps simulate the fact that it takes a lot more than just knowing where to hit and how to hit along with a little luck to kill larger enemies because the fact of the matter is, there's more to hit and less damage done/square foot to the overall beasty!

If I can't even trip a huge crab, why should I be able to kill it in one mighty blow?

Health

Let's face facts here: the chances of executing an orc that's fresh out of the gates is pretty low because they've got a TON of fight in them and they're probably actively dodging and blocking everything you're throwing at them! You're not going to just saunter on up to a spry warrior and take off their head or rip out their heart without them wanting to say something about it! You have to wear them down first so as to increase your chances of success! Maybe that little bit of sweat in their eyes or that cut along their back gives you just that much of an opening to plunge your sword straight into their heart and drop them dead right before your feet in one fell swoop!

Someone that has been beaten down a bit is going to be much easier to execute than someone that's still fresh. So, to show this, if the target of the execution has 100% health left, the execution is done at a -10. If the target has 90% health left, the execution is done at a -9. However, if the target has 91% of its health left, the attempt is still made at a -10. Only upon actually reaching 90, 80, 70, etc. percent does the penalty actually drop. Anything above 50% is going to have a minimum of -6.

This shouldn't be too hard to keep track of with today's modern calculators, so GMs should be able to handle this little bit of number tracking.

Execution Feats

The final requirement to attempting executions in combat is simple: you have to purchase the feat. This simulates the fact that typically speaking, only seasoned warriors know where to hit and how to hit in order to take down an enemy in a single blow. Someone that just picked up a sword for the first time and is going into battle as green as a leaf on a seedling, they're not going to be capable of such a combat maneuver. They're simply going to be swinging the sword around like crazy and hoping that they make it out of battle alive. Yet a truly seasoned warrior will be much more efficient at decapitations than your every day warrior. This gives the option of multiple execution feats.

Let's go over them.

1) Combat Maneuver: Execution - the player may attempt an execution 1/combat against a target no more than one size category larger than themselves. This does not provoke an attack of opportunity. Upon a successful hit, the target rolls a fort DC 15. If the target succeeds, the attack is rolled as if it were a normal melee attack. If the target fails, it is killed instantly. Nearby enemies that see this are demoralized by -2 and nearby allies of the player gain +2 moral.

2) Combat Maneuver: Execution, Improved - same as Combat Maneuver: Execution, except the maneuver may be attempted 2/combat at a +2. Demoralized enemies are at -2 and allies gain +4 moral. Demoralized enemies must roll a will DC 15 or be shaken for d4+1 rounds.

3) Combat Maneuver: Execution, Greater - same as Combat Maneuver: Execution, except the maneuver may be attempted 3/combat at a +4. Demoralized enemies are at -4 and allies gain +6 moral. Demoralized enemies must roll a will DC 15 or be frightened for d6+2 rounds. If they succeed, the enemy is only shaken for d4+1 rounds.

4) Combat Maneuver: Execution, Flourish - upon a successful execution, the player may make an immediate attack against another target within melee range at a -2.

5) Combat Maneuver: Execution, Inspiring - upon a successful execution you may change the condition that nearby enemies take and you may add an extra +2 to your allies' moral bonus. (Conditions you can choose are: cowering, frightened, nauseated, panicked, sickened, stunned)

6) Combat Maneuver: Execution, Punishing - upon a failed execution, the player may instead apply one of the following conditions on the target along with the damage rolled. Conditions: bleed, blinded, confused, dazed, deafened, nauseated, sickened, staggered, stunned.

7) Combat Maneuver: Execution, Bloodlust - upon a successful execution, the player may immediately rush the nearest enemy and attempt to attack them at a -2 to attack and defense until the player's next turn.

8) Combat Maneuver: Execution, Invigorating - upon a successful execution, the player revels in the blood of their victim and feels a temporary replenishment in their vigor. Gain 10 temporary hit points and regain 2d6+2 health.

9) Combat Maneuver: Execution, Relentless - may attempt executions against targets up to two size categories larger than you.

10) Combat Maneuver: Execution, Overpowering - upon a failed execution attempt, roll for critical damage against the target.

11) Combat Maneuver: Execution, Impact - upon a failed execution attempt, the player may move the target up to 5 feet/5 points of damage in any direction in front of the player or the player may knock the target prone.

12) Combat Maneuver: Execution, Penetrating - upon a failed execution attempt, the damage rolled by the player automatically bypasses all armor of the target.

Side Notes

One thing that I do believe should be a requirement for attempted executions is having proficiency in the weapon being used and possibly the feats weapon focus and weapon specialization.

Please feel free to comment and give me your two cents. After all, I'm only one dwarf with one mind and the more that give me feedback the more I can hone this down to something that just might be worth our time!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

There are prestiege classes that get similar, less powerful abilities. There's also the Coup de Grace combat manouever, which is less powerful.

Basically, it's overpowered. Imagine the GM running this feat against you as players...


Also - the failure condition feats are nasty, by the end your saying that 3 times per combat you can auto-crit and blind/stun etc. opponents up to 2 size categories larger than you.

Once you get these feats, there's no need for you roll to hit any more. Load up on sycthe and away you go...


1 person marked this as a favorite.

It's extremely overpowered. Look at the price and Caster Level for the vorpal weapon enchantment (which basically does what you want to do, limited to creatures with one head and minus the morale adjustment). No way in hell can you give that ability away for a Feat and a CMB check.

Aside from that, you seem to be slightly mistaken rules-wise on two points .

1th: A coup de grace doesn't have a fixed fortitude DC of 15, but rather (10 + damage dealt), which can become REALLY enormous, especially if you have a Rogue or a powerattacking 2-hand-fighter with a high crit weapon apply the CDG, since CDG is an auto-crit.

2nd: The target of a combar maneuver doesn't "roll" CMD. CMD is a fixed DC, just like AC. Either the attacker beats the CMD with his CMB+d20 or he doesn't. No rolling on the part of the defender.

Taldor

The idea is very cinematic - and I LOVE cinematic gameplay - but Funky Badger and Kalridian are right, it's way overpowered.

Autodeath for only a CMB check is obviously way, WAY more powerful than any other combat maneuver...or any 3 CM's put together for that matter. The Fort save mitigates it a bit, but we're still talking instant death here. It's gonna happen to you, too, sometimes.

The demoralization/inspiring bonuses cause a 4 point swing (-2 and +2), which is huge.

The additional feats FAR outpace any other line of feats in the cambat benefits they grant, like Vital Strike, Improved Crit, etc.

So, ultimately, as I said before...cool idea. WAY overpowered.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This seems like a thing that could be covered by the massive damage rules.


FWIW, decapitating someone in one stroke is not actually easy. Historically, the axman would often need 2 strikes, assuming the prisoner didn't move and the ax actually struck the neck without missing. (Queen Anne Boleyn is recorded as telling the axman that her neck was so think and graceful that he should only need one stroke.) The guillotine was actually invented as a humane execution method, because it could consistently decapitate with a single stroke.

That being said, one of my favorite battle pictures is the full page spread of Samurai Cat decapitating four men in a single stroke: the look of total surprise of thug 3's disconnected face is absolutely priceless! :-)


Funky Badger wrote:
Imagine the GM running this feat against you as players...

This.


I would make these a prestige class or epic prestige class abilities, and have the prestige class extremely difficult to get into. Perhaps something like a Precise Executioner, a 5 level prestige class. Basically, I agree with the others, if you think it is cool as a player, the DM will probably give it to the npcs. So, introducing a prestige class makes it far less likely that the npcs will have access to the same abilities.


Gwen Smith wrote:


FWIW, decapitating someone in one stroke is not actually easy. Historically, the axman would often need 2 strikes, assuming the prisoner didn't move and the ax actually struck the neck without missing. (Queen Anne Boleyn is recorded as telling the axman that her neck was so think and graceful that he should only need one stroke.) The guillotine was actually invented as a humane execution method, because it could consistently decapitate with a single stroke.

On the continent (Europe) they used the Headsman's Sword. Think a hand and a half sword with a weight on the end. In England they used the Headsman's Axe. The axe was probably a bit more difficult to use, but a competant executioner could get the head off with one whack under most circumstances. It was customery to pay the executioner before he cut off your head to insure a "good execution". The guillotine was invented to "automate" the process largely due to an increase in executions and a lack of good executioners during the Revolution in France. It was supposed to be humane as well. Some accounts say when King Charles I was executed in England he had to calm the executioner down. Apparently beheading a king was a bit unnerving. The executioner did it (with the axe) in one blow.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm not sure if you're aware, DayneTheWickman, but the skyrim executions are not a game mechanic that enhance or modify your ability to fight. They are nothing more than purely visual effects intended to be aesthetically pleasing and break up the seemingly monotonous repetition of getting in a slapfight with a sword for 100+ hours of gameplay.

Executions in skyrim are more like a well-described combat in D&D. Execution is at least partially random (on the consoles you can instigate different animations based on the direction you're pressing with your analog stick) but in all cases do not add damage. They only occur when the creature would have died anyway. Generally when you 1-shot an enemy with an execution, it is actually because the enemy was inferior to you and you likely got a critical hit (this is one of the reasons speccing your weapons to deal more damage and deal more criticals will lead to a stark increase in 1-shots on minor enemies).

What is effectively occurring already exists in D&D. You just don't realize it because D&D is imaginative rather than visual. When your dwarf finishes off a foe with his axe through HP damage and it is vividly described, that is your Skyrim execution at play. When your elf critically hits and downs a foe with his scimitar and it is vividly described, it is again your Skyrim execution at play.

Humorously, it is actually much closer to Skyrim taking cues from good tabletop GMs than the reverse. Many GMs will gloss over minor kills when defeating hordes of enemies but spice up a kill if there's a critical hit or if he/she sees an opportunity to drop a little spice and something nice. Skyrim now offers a (somewhat random) method of spicing up what would have been the same exact hit #12.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

+1 Ashiel

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Also if you really want that kind of hit opportunity the Two-Handed Fighter Archetype already has it. quoted for reference below:

PRD info wrote:
Devastating Blow (Ex): At 19th level, as a standard action, a two-handed fighter may make a single melee attack with a two-handed weapon at a –5 penalty. If the attack hits, it is treated as a critical threat. Special weapon abilities that activate only on a critical hit do not activate if this critical hit is confirmed. This ability replaces armor mastery.

And that works once a round! Just load up a high multiplier weapon and have at it :)

Cheliax

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Christopher Van Horn wrote:

Also if you really want that kind of hit opportunity the Two-Handed Fighter Archetype already has it. quoted for reference below:

PRD info wrote:
Devastating Blow (Ex): At 19th level, as a standard action, a two-handed fighter may make a single melee attack with a two-handed weapon at a –5 penalty. If the attack hits, it is treated as a critical threat. Special weapon abilities that activate only on a critical hit do not activate if this critical hit is confirmed. This ability replaces armor mastery.
And that works once a round! Just load up a high multiplier weapon and have at it :)

Can you imagine a two-handed fighter with a scythe?


Mergy wrote:
Christopher Van Horn wrote:

Also if you really want that kind of hit opportunity the Two-Handed Fighter Archetype already has it. quoted for reference below:

PRD info wrote:
Devastating Blow (Ex): At 19th level, as a standard action, a two-handed fighter may make a single melee attack with a two-handed weapon at a –5 penalty. If the attack hits, it is treated as a critical threat. Special weapon abilities that activate only on a critical hit do not activate if this critical hit is confirmed. This ability replaces armor mastery.
And that works once a round! Just load up a high multiplier weapon and have at it :)
Can you imagine a two-handed fighter with a scythe?

It's the only martial option I know of that can reliably drop a CR-appropriate (or under) opponent in a single standard action the way you could back at low levels, and that's to use a scythe, be 20th level for the x5 critical multiplier, and basically move action->standard action, hit, auto-confirm, deal awesome damage.

20th level Fighter, full-power attack, 30 strength, +5 collision scythe, gloves of dueling, weapon training, and full specialization is about 290 damage on a standard action attack. So a 2-handed fighter with a pimped out sword (+7 equivalent) can once again kill stuff with the same degree of success as it did back at low levels (when 2d6+6 means most of your enemies are in trouble).

Gorbacz wrote:
+1 Ashiel

Yay, my favorite lil' bag of teeth! (^-^)

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

The way I run things, I always try to go out and make some really cool description of That Final Blow that gets somebody down. Dramatic pause, slo mo kicks in, heads roll, chests burst, tentacles fly through the air, smoking boots remain. Of course, it goes both ways, spectacular PC deaths is what the game is about as well!


When a barbarian takes a foe to -20 or so in one blow, I describe it as cutting through the body from one shoulder to the opposite hip creating a mess. Another time an enlarged dwarf with a warhammer literally flattened a foe. I had to roll a save for the magic armor.


Wow...I got a lot more responses than I expected. I did take in what everyone said and I agree with two things.

One: Skyrim is a sissy game with slap fights for combat and executions as a way to make the player say, "woah! this game is so unique and awesome!" when I can describe even more epic, and less redundant, kills as the DM.

Two: I think that making this a prestige class called the Executioner would be farging epic, making such maneuvers a little less accessible and far less likely to be used on the PCs as well. I admit, I DM campaigns where everyone brings two or three spare characters with them every time we sit down, so we're used to seeing death left and right. However, for a more toned-down play style where characters are expected to last three or four game sessions before being so much as threatened with death, a prestige class may be the better option than a combat maneuver.

So how about it? Anyone have any suggestions for turning this into a prestige class? And please, keep giving me input. I'm actively taking notes on everything being said and constantly tweaking the things I work on.


I'm not the best at coming up with requirements, particularly since you want this to be fairly difficult to get into.

I would have it be a fighter prestige class. Full BAB, Fort focus in saving throws. d10 or d12 HD.

1) Execution a number of times per day equal to Strength bonus + Executioner level: As a full round action, the Executioner may make a single attack with a -5 penalty against a target of a size within one category of the executioner's size. If the attack hits, the target must make a Fortitude save (DC = 10 + Strength modifier + Executioner level) or it suffers an automatic critical hit. Keep the Combat Maneuver stuff out of it.

2) First Style: Choose a style of execution from the list below. Flourish, Inspiring, Punishing.

3) Improved Execution. The Execution is now performed as a standard attack, instead of a full round action, and the single attack only suffers a -3 penalty.

4) Second Style: Choose a style of execution from the list below. Bloodlust, Invigorating, Relentless.

5) Swift Execution. The Execution is now performed as a move action. The Executioner can perform two executions a round.

I imagine it would look something like this.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Executing an opponent:

Hitting the opponent when they are low on hp.

Death by massive damage (deal 50+ damage in one blow and your opponent fails their fort save).

Not sure anything else is required.


I would also give the Executioner prestige class an ability that modified the multiplier of any weapon's critical attack damage, equal to 1/2 Executioner level (rounded up), or +1, +1, +2, +2, +3, at levels 1-5.


Arazni, I'm liking what you're saying so far. I'll work off of what you've posted and post most likely sometime tomorrow with the rough draft.

Red is now a happy dwarf! He's going to have fun lobbing off heads and cleaving enemies in half with this new prestige class....bwahahahahah!!!!

However, I do see how 1/2 Executioner level as a bonus to critical attack damage could end up becoming overpowered (possibly). Let's say you take Executioner level 10. The bonus is +5, meaning that if I take a scythe I could then increase my critical damage to x9, which would make me SOOOOO happy!! Unless of course I misread what you've said.


Yes, that's why I would suggest leaving Executioner a 5 level prestige class. The max bonus to critical multiplier would be +3 (possibly +4). IF you want to make it a 10 level prestige class, have it be equal to 1/3 executioner level. +1,+1,+1,+2,+2,+2,+3,+3,+3,+4 at 10th level. The scythe critical multiplier would indeed be x8 for a 10th level Executioner. With Executions being a limited ability, except for the occasional critical hit in combat, I think it's about the equivalent of a 15th or 16th level wizard using a fireball or something similar, except its a single attack rather than an area effect.

As an alternative, if the +4 is still overpowering. +0, +1, +1, +1, +2, +2, +2, +3, +3, +3. (But that won't have the capstone feeling unless you add something else there.)


Let's go ahead and assume for a moment that the Executioner is only 5 levels because the fact of the matter is, an executioner's job is a)EXTREMELY straight forward and b)not open to much advancement due to the fact that an executioner does one thing and does that one thing EXTREMELY well. If that's the case, making this into a condensed, yet well rewarding, 5 level pres-class makes sense to me.

Assume we use the 1/2 level progression (rounding up) meaning that the executioner would get +1, +1, +2, +2, +3 on their critical multipliers. With a scythe that boosts the critical to x7 upon reaching level 5. That's a fairly good hit no matter how you swing it. An average damage of 5 + 6 (2x a str mod of 3) = 11. This is a run-of-the mill scythe held in the hands of a level 5 executioner without applying any feats to the weapon. With the x7 critical upon a successful execution roll, that's 77 points of damage!

Going off of an above comment, a "well paid" executioner would be able to more "humanely" fell his victims. With the proper feats and gear, this prestige class would command respect and fear on the battlefield with its focused goal: decapitation.

So, we'll give the executioner the following class abilities at the following levels.
1) execution
2) style: flourish, inspiring, punishing
3) improved execution
4) style: bloodlust, invigorating, relentless
5) swift execution

execution: you can attempt an execution at a -5 as a full-round action against an enemy not exceeding one size category larger than you a number of times per day equal to your executioner level plus your strength modifier. The fort DC to reduce the execution to regular damage is 10 + executioner level + damage.

flourish: upon a successful execution, you may make an attack against a foe within your reach at a -4.

inspiring: upon a successful execution, nearby foes must make a will save of DC 15 or be shaken for d4 + executioner level turns and nearby allies gain a +2 morale bonus.

punishing: upon a failed execution attempt, you may apply one of the following conditions (bleed, blinded, confused, dazed, deafened, nauseated, sickened, staggered, stunned).

improved execution: same as execution, but at a -3.

bloodlust: upon a successful execution that kills your target, you may charge and attack the nearest enemy at a -4.

invigorating: upon a successful execution that kills your target, you gain 10 temporary hit points and regain 2d6+2 hit points.

relentless: you may attempt executions against enemies up to 2 size categories larger than you at a -4.

swift execution: same as improved execution, except you can attempt the execution as a move action at a -1.

It all sounds good to me! However, weapon focus and weapon specialization should still be requirements to get into the pres-class if you ask me, meaning at least level 8 in fighter (if I'm correct with last I checked).


weapon specialization is level 4 as a fighter, but perhaps a critical feat could be a requirement, in addition to weapon focus.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Didn't see if anyone mentioned it, but you may consider the Called Shots rules presented in Ultimate Combat.

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