Here at Paizo, we've been using our new GameMastery Critical Hit Deck in office games for a while, and while it's provided a number of awesome moments, I thought I'd take a minute to share a few anecdotes that stand out above the others in my mind.
Early in the process, Thursday-night GM and Paizo Publisher, Erik Mona, was running his campaign with most of the editorial staff in attendance. Up to this point, the deck had only been used by the players, but Erik—notoriously unafraid of killing off characters—decided to let every monster have a go at it as well, to our collective horror. My character, a gruff, magic-using dwarf fighter named Gar, tends to be a front-line fighter and caught the brunt of Erik's angry dice that night. After two critical hits to the face and neck, Gar was drained of 1 point of Charisma and nearly decapitated. I think this is the first time since the new edition of the game that I have had to redraw a character portrait based on in-game action.
The deck also saw some action with my weekly Monday-night game, running the Savage Tide Adventure Path. During a face-off against some rather angry bullywugs, Jufas Greenbottle, the halfling rogue in the group, managed to score a critical hit with his rapier. He drew "overreaction," causing the unfortunate monster to draw attacks of opportunity from all adjacent foes. The poor frogman was finished when Jufas scored a second critical hit, dealing triple damage after drawing "perfect strike." I think that group fell in love with the deck right then and there. I, personally, can't wait until they reach a big fight where I get to use the deck against them.
I've been using the deck in my Wednesday-night game as well, with some of the folks from Wizards of the Coast. Fortunately for my players, I generally don't allow the monsters to draw cards from the deck unless it is a boss-monster fight. In one particularly harrowing encounter, my group managed to crit a nasty half-ogre barbarian, but after drawing "spun around," the fighter only dealt normal damage, with the brute being flat-footed for one round. Suffice to say, some in the group were not very pleased with the result. The rogue was off fighting another foe and the only character engaging the half-ogre was badly hurt and hoping to drop him with that hit. As the round progressed and the players got to think about it a bit, the flat-footed status of the barbarian ended up being a great benefit. The fighter pulled a potion and drank it without provoking an attack and the rogue pulled away to sneak attack the barbarian with his bow, forcing him to flee. After that exchange, I realized one of the great things about the deck: it lets you play just a little differently and forces you to really think on your feet to get the most out of your critical hit.
All of which leads us to wonder what kind of havoc we're causing in other people's games. If you've had a run-in with the deck, post your own "Tales from the Crit" on our messageboards and let us know!