Critical Hits and Critical Failures

Friday, March 30, 2018

In the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, when you roll your d20, there's more than just success and failure on the line. You can also critically succeed or critically fail at a variety of checks, from attack rolls, to saving throws, to skill checks and beyond. Rules like these have always been a part of Pathfinder—for example, if you fail a Climb check by 5 or more you fall, and if you fail a Disable Device check by 5 or more you set off the trap—but they are uncommon and not universally applied. In the playtest, we have a unified mechanic.

The Four Degrees of Success

In Pathfinder Second Edition, every check is rolled against a particular DC. Your roll on the d20 + your proficiency modifier + your ability modifier + all your relevant modifiers, bonuses, and penalties make up your check result. If your check result meets or exceeds the target DC, congratulations! You succeeded, and you might have critically succeeded. Otherwise, you failed. If you exceeded the target DC by 10 or more, or if you rolled a natural 20 and met or exceeded the target DC, then you critically succeeded. If your result was 10 or more lower than the target DC, or if you rolled a natural 1 and didn't meet the target DC, then you critically failed. Collectively, success, critical success, failure, and critical failure are called the four degrees of success. You can gain special abilities that increase or decrease your degree of success, often due to having a high proficiency rank. For instance, if your class grants you evasion, you get master proficiency in Reflex saves and treat any success on a Reflex save as a critical success!

Examples

Let's start with a fireball spell. In Pathfinder First Edition, if you succeed the Reflex save, you take only half damage, and evasion allows you to take no damage on a successful save. In Pathfinder Second Edition, here are the degrees of success for fireball (and many of its old friends like lightning bolt and cone of cold) in the playtest.

    Success Half damage
  • Critical Success No damage
  • Failure Full damage
  • Critical Failure Double damage

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Any character who critically succeeds takes no damage, and characters with evasion count their successes as critical successes. What about someone legendary at Reflex saves with improved evasion? They count critical failures as failures and thus can never suffer the deadliest effects of a Reflex save, even on a natural 1!

Not all effects list all four degrees of success. If an effect doesn't list a critical success entry, that means there is normally no special effect for critically succeeding, so you just use the result for a success. Similarly, if an effect doesn't list a critical failure entry, there is normally no special effect for critically failing, so you just use the result for a failure. If a success entry is missing, that means nothing happens on a success, and if a failure entry is missing, that means nothing happens on a failure. Let's take a look at an example that combines two of these rules: the results of a basic attack called a strike.

Success You deal damage, which equals the weapon's or unarmed attack's damage dice plus your Strength modifier if it's a melee attack, plus any bonuses.

Critical Success You deal double damage—you roll twice as many damage dice and add double the ability modifier and double any other bonuses to damage.

Let's unpack what this means. You deal damage on a success and double damage on a critical success. Since there is no failure entry, that means normally nothing happens on a failure, and since there is no critical failure entry, that means a critical failure has the same effect as a failure, so nothing happens. But the fighter might have something to say about that! The fighter can use the special certain strike action, which lets him strike with the following failure effect.

Failure Your attack deals the minimum damage. (Treat this as though you had rolled a 1 on every die.)

So with certain strike, a failed attack roll isn't actually a miss—your fighter is so skilled that you still get a glancing blow on a failure and miss entirely only on a critical failure! Meanwhile, a fighter with the twin riposte reaction can use one weapon to parry and attack with the other weapon whenever an enemy critical fails an attack roll.

Save or Lose

One of the effects of the four degrees of success that adds the most fun to the game is what this means for save or lose effects—effects where if you fail your save, you're unable to continue the fight. These sorts of effects are tricky in almost every roleplaying game, and Pathfinder is no exception. In Pathfinder First Edition, even if your character has a 75% chance of succeeding at your Will save against a mummy's paralysis, chances are pretty high that four mummies are going to paralyze you. (Thanks a lot for that encounter in your Pathfinder Society Scenario, Jason!)

It's tempting to just decide the solution is not to have save or lose effects, but that really cuts off a wide variety of classic feats, monster abilities, and spells from the game. The flip side of those abilities is that if they don't just win, chances are that many of these effects are just wasting a turn. So you either cast the save or lose spell and win, or you cast it and waste the turn. Having those as the only two outcomes is not a great proposition, and of course, players and GMs often maximize their DCs and saving throw bonuses in order to tilt the outcome to their side as much as possible.

But with four degrees of success, suddenly the design space broadens significantly. You can still suffer an effect that takes you out of the action entirely on a critical failure, and you can completely ignore the effect on a critical success. But on a failure, you suffer a powerful effect but not one that takes you entirely out of the fight in one go, and even on a success, you suffer a milder effect that is still useful for the spell's caster. For example, if you critically fail your save against dominate, you are completely under the spellcaster's control, but if you only fail, you can try to break out of the effect each round. On a successful save, you aren't controlled, but you still lose an action on your next turn as you struggle to fight off the mental commands, which could be a serious problem—you might not be able to step away before casting a spell, or have time to raise a shield.

Some Mysterious Critical Effects

I'm closing out with some cool critical effects that result from critical successes on your attack rolls or skill checks or from critical failures on your enemy's saving throws. See if you can figure out where they come from!

  • The creature is banished and can't return to your home plane by any means for 1 week.
  • The creature takes the full collapse damage and falls into a fissure.
  • The target believes the fact for an unlimited duration.
  • The target's intellect is permanently reduced below that of an animal, and it treats its Charisma, Intelligence, and Wisdom modifiers as –5. It loses all class abilities that require mental faculties, including all spellcasting. If the target is a PC, she becomes an NPC under the GM's control.
  • The creature is pushed 30 feet in the direction of the wind, is knocked prone, and takes 2d6 bludgeoning damage.
  • You grant a +4 circumstance bonus.
  • Per a failure, except the target believes that everyone it sees is a mortal enemy. It uses its reactions and free actions against these enemies regardless of whether they were previously its allies, as determined by the GM. It otherwise acts as rationally as normal and will likely prefer to attack enemies that are actively attacking or hindering it.
  • The target must succeed at a Fortitude save or die. Even on a successful save, the target is frightened 2 and must flee for 1 round.
  • Your target regains Hit Points equal to 2d10 + your Wisdom modifier.
  • Per a success, but even afterward, the target is too scared of you to retaliate against you.

Mark Seifter
Designer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Playtest Wayne Reynolds
51 to 100 of 567 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | next > last >>

So to be clear-

If I roll a natural 20, but 20 is not enough to meet the DC I do not succeed, critically or otherwise.

If I roll a natural 1, and 1 is enough to meet the DC, I do not fail, critically or otherwise.

Do I have this right? If so, that seems to avoid most of the issues with swinginess, since you don't have a 5% chance to jump to the moon, nor does a pack of level 1 commoners with scythes pose any real threat to a level 20 fighter in plate mail.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Meophist wrote:
It doesn't appear as though natural 1's are auto-failure. They become critical failures only if it would normally be a failure anyways.
If your nat 20 isn't a critical success, it is still a success, and if your nat 1 isn't a critical failure, it is still a failure.

This blog post and this reply leaves me with a lot of the excitement I was missing with the class previews.

The bullet points were very welcome and I hope we see more examples like that in the future!


Xethik wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:
thflame wrote:
I'm not sure I like the fighter doing minimum damage when he "misses". The way I read this, because there is no "critical failure" blurb, he even does minimum damage on a critical failure too? (Or is it that because there is no critical failure blurb, that there is no effect?) I feel like a fighter should still be able to miss, no matter how high a level he is.
That's a special attack, like Sudden Charge, so probably something you have to take a feat to do and might have to spend two actions on doing.
Mark mentioned on Facebook that it only takes one action. I'd link, but I don't have access to Facebook at this very moment (work PC).

Can you point me in the right direction? I couldn't find anything on the official Paizo FB page, or the Pathfinder RPG group.

EDIT: Ah, found it! It's on his own FB page.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I was a little unsure about this system at first, but the more I read about it and think about it, the more excited I'm getting. Dramatic critical hits have been responsible for some of my fondest gaming memories, and making criticals an important part of the system seems like it will lead to a lot of fun.

Paizo Employee Designer

9 people marked this as a favorite.
NielsenE wrote:
In the certain strike example, we'd need a "critical failure: miss" rules line to match up to description of the feat/ability, given the logic right before. Ie upstream it said if no critical failure is listed, then use the failure result, but certain strike changed failure from miss to "minimum damage hit" so critical failure should also be "minimum damage hit" if not called out, right?

This is actually covered in the full wording of the feat.


Zaister wrote:
I'm not sure that it's a good idea that a natural 20 auto-succeeds regardless of the DC, even if the result would be a failure, or even a critical failure. That might work for attack rolls and saving throws, as in First Edition, but I don't think it makes sense for skills, for example. That's a flat 5% chance of success, no matter how impossible the attempted action actually is.

It won't be that bad because the type of proficiency will define what you can actually do at best. You can't succeed in things impossible to do for your character if you're not allowed to make the throw.


This is only the second playtest post that hasn't been too vague for me to have an opinion and the first that's made me optimistic. The extra degrees of success and failure sound like they'll be a lot of fun. More stuff like this, please!


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Relating to the Certain Strike,

thflame wrote:
I'm not sure I like the fighter doing minimum damage when he "misses". The way I read this, because there is no "critical failure" blurb, he even does minimum damage on a critical failure too? (Or is it that because there is no critical failure blurb, that there is no effect?) I feel like a fighter should still be able to miss, no matter how high a level he is.

Please have a general rule that a feat only changes the degrees of success it talks about. That way you don’t have something where you always have to list crit fail if you changed failure. Such a rule would then cause Certain Strike to do no damage on a Crit Failure.

It is much too easy to miss a state if you don’t have such general rules.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Seifter wrote:
Meophist wrote:
It doesn't appear as though natural 1's are auto-failure. They become critical failures only if it would normally be a failure anyways.
If your nat 20 isn't a critical success, it is still a success, and if your nat 1 isn't a critical failure, it is still a failure.

Really not a fan of this with skill checks. In PF1e it allows ridiculous situations like "I listen in on a conversation 3 miles away through multiple walls. The DC is over 10000, but I rolled a 20 so I succeed!" You can also jump any distance and track things that occurred millennia ago. Some of those are admittedly kind of cool, but not for an unskilled character to pull off 5% of the time.

Nat 1 failing is also terrible - my master swimmer enters a race and since I want to do my best, I don't take 10. So now I have a 5% chance to fail to even stay afloat. Whee. You can't handwave trivial skill checks because there's always the 5% chance that the character fails at something that should be automatic for them.

This also seems like it really messes with take 20. Either taking 20 is an autosuccess on everything(see jumping to the moon), or it doesn't count as a natural 20 (or it's gone) and we're back to rolling over and over until the 20 comes up and we somehow autosucceed at the most preposterous of tasks.

Grand Lodge

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like this so far.

One thing that came to mind: while this will be fun for players, I wonder how much it will increase the burden on GMs during encounters.

-Skeld

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

So... what if you roll a natural 20, but still roll 10 less than the DC, or vice versa? Which takes precedence here?


6 people marked this as a favorite.
ryric wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Meophist wrote:
It doesn't appear as though natural 1's are auto-failure. They become critical failures only if it would normally be a failure anyways.
If your nat 20 isn't a critical success, it is still a success, and if your nat 1 isn't a critical failure, it is still a failure.

Really not a fan of this with skill checks. In PF1e it allows ridiculous situations like "I listen in on a conversation 3 miles away through multiple walls. The DC is over 10000, but I rolled a 20 so I succeed!" You can also jump any distance and track things that occurred millennia ago. Some of those are admittedly kind of cool, but not for an unskilled character to pull off 5% of the time.

Nat 1 failing is also terrible - my master swimmer enters a race and since I want to do my best, I don't take 10. So now I have a 5% chance to fail to even stay afloat. Whee. You can't handwave trivial skill checks because there's always the 5% chance that the character fails at something that should be automatic for them.

This also seems like it really messes with take 20. Either taking 20 is an autosuccess on everything(see jumping to the moon), or it doesn't count as a natural 20 (or it's gone) and we're back to rolling over and over until the 20 comes up and we somehow autosucceed at the most preposterous of tasks.

How about, if a 20 on the die would still be a critical failure, than it's a simple failure. Same with a 1 still being a simple success if it would otherwise be a critical success. This keeps cavemen from creating rocket ships 5% of the time or jumping to the moon and such. Extreme situations are still out of reach.


I really like the 4 stages of success. Really brings something interesting, wich I think should be the focus of this new edition. More choices doesn't mean more interesting choices in my opinion.
In regard to the Certain strike, is it an specific action with that name or does it change how my basic attack functions? I hope its not the first option because it would look like d&d 4th edition with the little boxes saying what you can or can't do, all of them restricted by your class. Also, how will it interact with another things like Power attack? Will those stack? Will I be able to combine several effects?

I don't know about you guys, but I don't want something only different, I want something better than what we already have.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Leyren wrote:
Zaister wrote:
I'm not sure that it's a good idea that a natural 20 auto-succeeds regardless of the DC, even if the result would be a failure, or even a critical failure. That might work for attack rolls and saving throws, as in First Edition, but I don't think it makes sense for skills, for example. That's a flat 5% chance of success, no matter how impossible the attempted action actually is.
It won't be that bad because the type of proficiency will define what you can actually do at best. You can't succeed in things impossible to do for your character if you're not allowed to make the throw.

The problem is that there are basic things like jumping or seeing distant objects that anyone can attempt that now have a flat 5% chance of success no matter how crazy they are.

In PF2e it seems like not only can you see the Sun, 5% of the time you can read a newspaper sitting on the Sun's surface.

Paizo Employee Designer

9 people marked this as a favorite.
ryric wrote:
Leyren wrote:
Zaister wrote:
I'm not sure that it's a good idea that a natural 20 auto-succeeds regardless of the DC, even if the result would be a failure, or even a critical failure. That might work for attack rolls and saving throws, as in First Edition, but I don't think it makes sense for skills, for example. That's a flat 5% chance of success, no matter how impossible the attempted action actually is.
It won't be that bad because the type of proficiency will define what you can actually do at best. You can't succeed in things impossible to do for your character if you're not allowed to make the throw.

The problem is that there are basic things like jumping or seeing distant objects that anyone can attempt that now have a flat 5% chance of success no matter how crazy they are.

That assumes that there are basic things like jumping or seeing distant objects that anyone can attempt that now have a flat 5% chance of success no matter how crazy they are. For example, even in PF1, the numerical result of your Acrobatics check determined how far you could jump.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Doktor Weasel wrote:


How about, if a 20 on the die would still be a critical failure, than it's a simple failure. Same with a 1 still being a simple success if it would otherwise be a critical success. This keeps cavemen from creating rocket ships 5% of the time or jumping to the moon and such. Extreme situations are still out of reach.

That would satisfy me.


Zuresh wrote:
In regard to the Certain strike, is it an specific action with that name or does it change how my basic attack functions? I hope its not the first option because it would look like d&d 4th edition with the little boxes saying what you can or can't do, all of them restricted by your class. Also, how will it interact with another things like Power attack? Will those stack? Will I be able to combine several effects?

It's a feat, allowing you to do that as an action. Power Attack is also an action, so you can't combine the two (unless there's another feat combining the two, but then you'd have to take that as well).

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
JRutterbush wrote:
So... what if you roll a natural 20, but still roll 10 less than the DC, or vice versa? Which takes precedence here?
"Mark Seifter” wrote:
If your nat 20 isn't a critical success, it is still a success, and if your nat 1 isn't a critical failure, it is still a failure.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Dαedαlus wrote:

Hmmmm....

(seems to be my reaction a lot lately)

So, does this mean that a medusa will only turn you into a statue if you fail the save by more than 10? That seems... incredibly counter-genre.

That said, I can't say I'm opposed to the four degrees of success, just that it could prove problematic in certain situations meant to be highly deadly.

Still, I was kind of hoping we would get something new in this blog, not just the crit system, which we've known about for a while.

WARNING:

lot of non-native language text detected, please bear with me just a little :v

I think just the oposite. Game design wise, it's not fun to have a character Ko'd or killed because he failed a test he would have to do one way or another, sometimes it's a random encounter with a monster that have that kind of skill, but it will always seems unfair. But now, since you can push the insta-kill to the critical sucess of the creature, then you can make the power deadlier! But also leave room for counter play! So yeah, the medusa will totally petrify you if you critical failure the test, but thats a low chance, it'll still 1/3 petrify you if you fail though, removing one of your three actions per turn, and if you fail thre times, you get totally petrified! See? if you asume that you have about 20% of failure on PF1, but have a 40% chance of failure and a 5¨% chance of critical failure in PF2, in the end, the second edidion makes the encounter deadlier while leaving room for counter-play.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Doktor Weasel wrote:


How about, if a 20 on the die would still be a critical failure, than it's a simple failure. Same with a 1 still being a simple success if it would otherwise be a critical success. This keeps cavemen from creating rocket ships 5% of the time or jumping to the moon and such. Extreme situations are still out of reach.

I like that.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
GentleGiant wrote:
Zuresh wrote:
In regard to the Certain strike, is it an specific action with that name or does it change how my basic attack functions? I hope its not the first option because it would look like d&d 4th edition with the little boxes saying what you can or can't do, all of them restricted by your class. Also, how will it interact with another things like Power attack? Will those stack? Will I be able to combine several effects?
It's a feat, allowing you to do that as an action. Power Attack is also an action, so you can't combine the two (unless there's another feat combining the two, but then you'd have to take that as well).

So 4th edition it is. Too bad.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Seifter wrote:
ryric wrote:
Leyren wrote:
Zaister wrote:
I'm not sure that it's a good idea that a natural 20 auto-succeeds regardless of the DC, even if the result would be a failure, or even a critical failure. That might work for attack rolls and saving throws, as in First Edition, but I don't think it makes sense for skills, for example. That's a flat 5% chance of success, no matter how impossible the attempted action actually is.
It won't be that bad because the type of proficiency will define what you can actually do at best. You can't succeed in things impossible to do for your character if you're not allowed to make the throw.

The problem is that there are basic things like jumping or seeing distant objects that anyone can attempt that now have a flat 5% chance of success no matter how crazy they are.

That assumes that there are basic things like jumping or seeing distant objects that anyone can attempt that now have a flat 5% chance of success no matter how crazy they are. For example, even in PF1, the numerical result of your Acrobatics check determined how far you could jump.

Sort of...the DC of an acrobatics check is the distance you want to jump in feet. So if my PC wants to jump a mile it's a DC5280 check. 5% chance. Perception DCs go up with distance and obstacles, so listening in on the BBEG's plans as he tells his minions hundreds of miles away in his secure fortress is just a stupendous DC, so 5% chance.

If PF2e is set up in such a way that "the distance jumped depends on your numerical check value" and similar for other skills, then nat 20 being an "autosuccess" is meaningless and I'm happier.

Paizo Employee Designer

9 people marked this as a favorite.
Ishi1993 wrote:
Dαedαlus wrote:

Hmmmm....

(seems to be my reaction a lot lately)

So, does this mean that a medusa will only turn you into a statue if you fail the save by more than 10? That seems... incredibly counter-genre.

That said, I can't say I'm opposed to the four degrees of success, just that it could prove problematic in certain situations meant to be highly deadly.

Still, I was kind of hoping we would get something new in this blog, not just the crit system, which we've known about for a while.

WARNING:

lot of non-native language text detected, please bear with me just a little :v

I think just the oposite. Game design wise, it's not fun to have a character Ko'd or killed because he failed a test he would have to do one way or another, sometimes it's a random encounter with a monster that have that kind of skill, but it will always seems unfair. But now, since you can push the insta-kill to the critical sucess of the creature, then you can make the power deadlier! But also leave room for counter play! So yeah, the medusa will totally petrify you if you critical failure the test, but thats a low chance, it'll still 1/3 petrify you if you fail though, removing one of your three actions per turn, and if you fail thre times, you get totally petrified! See? if you asume that you have about 20% of failure on PF1, but have a 40% chance of failure and a 5¨% chance of critical failure in PF2, in the end, the second edidion makes the encounter deadlier while leaving room for counter-play.

Great analysis! To use your example as a hypothetical for medusas, there's also a lot more tension, excitement, and fear you can evoke in someone who just failed the first time and knows they have only one more chance, whereas if you hit them one and done, it takes them right out of that spot right away and into going to get a sandwich until someone can stone to flesh.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Zuresh wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:
Zuresh wrote:
In regard to the Certain strike, is it an specific action with that name or does it change how my basic attack functions? I hope its not the first option because it would look like d&d 4th edition with the little boxes saying what you can or can't do, all of them restricted by your class. Also, how will it interact with another things like Power attack? Will those stack? Will I be able to combine several effects?
It's a feat, allowing you to do that as an action. Power Attack is also an action, so you can't combine the two (unless there's another feat combining the two, but then you'd have to take that as well).
So 4th edition it is. Too bad.

Erm, no, no more than taking Power Attack or similar feats are 4th edition.

Paizo Employee Designer

7 people marked this as a favorite.
ryric wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
ryric wrote:
Leyren wrote:
Zaister wrote:
I'm not sure that it's a good idea that a natural 20 auto-succeeds regardless of the DC, even if the result would be a failure, or even a critical failure. That might work for attack rolls and saving throws, as in First Edition, but I don't think it makes sense for skills, for example. That's a flat 5% chance of success, no matter how impossible the attempted action actually is.
It won't be that bad because the type of proficiency will define what you can actually do at best. You can't succeed in things impossible to do for your character if you're not allowed to make the throw.

The problem is that there are basic things like jumping or seeing distant objects that anyone can attempt that now have a flat 5% chance of success no matter how crazy they are.

That assumes that there are basic things like jumping or seeing distant objects that anyone can attempt that now have a flat 5% chance of success no matter how crazy they are. For example, even in PF1, the numerical result of your Acrobatics check determined how far you could jump.

Sort of...the DC of an acrobatics check is the distance you want to jump in feet. So if my PC wants to jump a mile it's a DC5280 check. 5% chance. Perception DCs go up with distance and obstacles, so listening in on the BBEG's plans as he tells his minions hundreds of miles away in his secure fortress is just a stupendous DC, so 5% chance.

If PF2e is set up in such a way that "the distance jumped depends on your numerical check value" and similar for other skills, then nat 20 being an "autosuccess" is meaningless and I'm happier.

Yep. We have endeavored to set up the wording in such a way as to work well with our new system rather than degenerately where we can. Wherever we missed it, though, we will appreciate you guys letting us know!


ryric wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Meophist wrote:
It doesn't appear as though natural 1's are auto-failure. They become critical failures only if it would normally be a failure anyways.
If your nat 20 isn't a critical success, it is still a success, and if your nat 1 isn't a critical failure, it is still a failure.

Really not a fan of this with skill checks. In PF1e it allows ridiculous situations like "I listen in on a conversation 3 miles away through multiple walls. The DC is over 10000, but I rolled a 20 so I succeed!" You can also jump any distance and track things that occurred millennia ago. Some of those are admittedly kind of cool, but not for an unskilled character to pull off 5% of the time.

Nat 1 failing is also terrible - my master swimmer enters a race and since I want to do my best, I don't take 10. So now I have a 5% chance to fail to even stay afloat. Whee. You can't handwave trivial skill checks because there's always the 5% chance that the character fails at something that should be automatic for them.

This also seems like it really messes with take 20. Either taking 20 is an autosuccess on everything(see jumping to the moon), or it doesn't count as a natural 20 (or it's gone) and we're back to rolling over and over until the 20 comes up and we somehow autosucceed at the most preposterous of tasks.

In the cases of nat 20, if the result isn't possible, they don't get to roll. Just because I state my intention to jump to the moon, doesn't mean I succeed if I roll a 20.

You can apply the same logic to nat 1s as well. If there is no way to fail, then ignore nat 1s.

I will say, however, that your Olympic swimmer rolling a nat 1 could totally happen. He pulls a muscle at the wrong moment and reflexively cries out in pain, taking in a deep breath of water. He probably recovers next round as he stops to cough up all that water, but it has still cost him the race.

Regardless, implications are that Olympic Swimmers would have a high enough proficiency in swimming that failure is mechanically not an option. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that with the skill proficiency/feats an Olympic Swimmer would have, one would probably be, "ignore critical failures on swim checks in calm water".


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Zuresh wrote:


So 4th edition it is. Too bad.

Please explain like I don't know 4e.


While mathematically I can see why a critical failure results in double damage on damage-dealing effects, from a practical standpoint, I don't think it's a fair approach and (when we eventually consider PF2), I don't think I'll employ it as listed here. It's an unfair graduation up in damage from the regular failure.

Sure, you could say that since a regular success cuts the damage by 50% and a critical success cuts it by 100% that a critical success is "doubling" the effect of a regular save, that a critical failure should "double" the effect of a regular failure, and take that 100% damage to 200%. But in reality, I think it would be more fair to say that a critical failure is 150% damage taken. Also, even apart from the whole "miss the DC by 10" concept, the chance of rolling a natural 1--5%--is too high for it to qualify as a critical failure (and let's face it, in a lot of cases, a roll of 1 is not going to beat the DC), when it's going to subject the character to double damage.

This is to say nothing of the extraordinarily harsh effects of non-damage spells. I feel like there's something good and interesting in here, but the way it's presented just sounds like it's too easy to cascade into TPK territories, even if the concept of critical successes are just as likely to go in the PCs favor at any given time.

Paizo Employee Designer

4 people marked this as a favorite.
thflame wrote:
ryric wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Meophist wrote:
It doesn't appear as though natural 1's are auto-failure. They become critical failures only if it would normally be a failure anyways.
If your nat 20 isn't a critical success, it is still a success, and if your nat 1 isn't a critical failure, it is still a failure.

Really not a fan of this with skill checks. In PF1e it allows ridiculous situations like "I listen in on a conversation 3 miles away through multiple walls. The DC is over 10000, but I rolled a 20 so I succeed!" You can also jump any distance and track things that occurred millennia ago. Some of those are admittedly kind of cool, but not for an unskilled character to pull off 5% of the time.

Nat 1 failing is also terrible - my master swimmer enters a race and since I want to do my best, I don't take 10. So now I have a 5% chance to fail to even stay afloat. Whee. You can't handwave trivial skill checks because there's always the 5% chance that the character fails at something that should be automatic for them.

This also seems like it really messes with take 20. Either taking 20 is an autosuccess on everything(see jumping to the moon), or it doesn't count as a natural 20 (or it's gone) and we're back to rolling over and over until the 20 comes up and we somehow autosucceed at the most preposterous of tasks.

In the cases of nat 20, if the result isn't possible, they don't get to roll. Just because I state my intention to jump to the moon, doesn't mean I succeed if I roll a 20.

You can apply the same logic to nat 1s as well. If there is no way to fail, then ignore nat 1s.

I will say, however, that your Olympic swimmer rolling a nat 1 could totally happen. He pulls a muscle at the wrong moment and reflexively cries out in pain, taking in a deep breath of water. He probably recovers next round as he stops to cough up all that water, but it has still cost him the race.

She actually could even recover the same round, on the next swim action. But as you say in the part after the quote, the olympic swimmer may well have a skill feat such that she can just coast without rolling unless she's up against true competition.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'm interested how the damage on a miss is going to work, fighter's feat wise. There was a lot of push back in 4E about that. Would a poisoned blade still apply poison damage? I guess it would, but maybe not if it is a failure and poisoned blade (etc) only does poison damage on a success.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

This is a great addition — binary save and suck effects, and binary skill results, were two features of PF1 I’ll be ecstatic to leave behind. Kudos!

(Ps. FWIW, I’ll add one more vote in favor of removing auto successes/failures on a natural 20/1. In addition to the reasons Helvellyn eloquently laid out, it would remove one more needless bit of complexity to the rules — “To determine what happens, you follow these elegant and streamlined rules. *Unless* you roll a nat 1, in which case something else happens. Or a nat 1, in which case something else happens. Or you roll the month you were born in, in which case...”)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

6 people marked this as a favorite.
thflame wrote:
ryric wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Meophist wrote:
It doesn't appear as though natural 1's are auto-failure. They become critical failures only if it would normally be a failure anyways.
If your nat 20 isn't a critical success, it is still a success, and if your nat 1 isn't a critical failure, it is still a failure.

Really not a fan of this with skill checks. In PF1e it allows ridiculous situations like "I listen in on a conversation 3 miles away through multiple walls. The DC is over 10000, but I rolled a 20 so I succeed!" You can also jump any distance and track things that occurred millennia ago. Some of those are admittedly kind of cool, but not for an unskilled character to pull off 5% of the time.

Nat 1 failing is also terrible - my master swimmer enters a race and since I want to do my best, I don't take 10. So now I have a 5% chance to fail to even stay afloat. Whee. You can't handwave trivial skill checks because there's always the 5% chance that the character fails at something that should be automatic for them.

This also seems like it really messes with take 20. Either taking 20 is an autosuccess on everything(see jumping to the moon), or it doesn't count as a natural 20 (or it's gone) and we're back to rolling over and over until the 20 comes up and we somehow autosucceed at the most preposterous of tasks.

In the cases of nat 20, if the result isn't possible, they don't get to roll. Just because I state my intention to jump to the moon, doesn't mean I succeed if I roll a 20.

You can apply the same logic to nat 1s as well. If there is no way to fail, then ignore nat 1s.

I will say, however, that your Olympic swimmer rolling a nat 1 could totally happen. He pulls a muscle at the wrong moment and reflexively cries out in pain, taking in a deep breath of water. He probably recovers next round as he stops to cough up all that water, but it has still cost him the race.

Regardless, implications are that Olympic Swimmers would have a high...

The issue is, where do we draw the line between plausible/implausible for fantasy characters? Obviously my examples of jumping to the moon and such are silly, deliberately so to make my point. But is jumping 100 feet silly? You can build a character that can pull that off in PF1e. So if a min/maxed jumper can make a 100 foot jump, does that mean Mr. full plate dwarf should also be able to do it 5% of the time?

In PF1e it's easy to make the determination of what the fantasy character can do - it's whatever they get rolling a 20. That's the cap on their abilities. Maybe we're going to have tiered limitations based on proficiency levels.

Oh, and your Olympic swimmer won't have that leg cramp 5% of the time. I'm sure some mishaps have happened, but I bet if you did some basic research, the rate of that happening would be more like 1 in 1000 not 1 in 20.


This blog post. I like this blog post.

Clean description of the system at work, some nice little nibbles on the specifics, and an overall positive shift in the game design I can get behind.

PF1's save/Die (or Lose) spells or effects are frankly some of the biggest drags in the system. No one likes turning to stone and being useless on a fail or watching your bbeg flail around useless because he got a 2 on some suck/save. Conversely it's no fun having your big action/spell slot be completely worthless. Adding some granularity so you can have partial effects most of the time and saving total shrug offs/failures to criticals makes for a more satisfying system for both sides of the screen.

Good work.

Paizo Employee Designer

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Ultrace wrote:

While mathematically I can see why a critical failure results in double damage on damage-dealing effects, from a practical standpoint, I don't think it's a fair approach and (when we eventually consider PF2), I don't think I'll employ it as listed here. It's an unfair graduation up in damage from the regular failure.

Sure, you could say that since a regular success cuts the damage by 50% and a critical success cuts it by 100% that a critical success is "doubling" the effect of a regular save, that a critical failure should "double" the effect of a regular failure, and take that 100% damage to 200%. But in reality, I think it would be more fair to say that a critical failure is 150% damage taken. Also, even apart from the whole "miss the DC by 10" concept, the chance of rolling a natural 1--5%--is too high for it to qualify as a critical failure (and let's face it, in a lot of cases, a roll of 1 is not going to beat the DC), when it's going to subject the character to double damage.

This is to say nothing of the extraordinarily harsh effects of non-damage spells. I feel like there's something good and interesting in here, but the way it's presented just sounds like it's too easy to cascade into TPK territories, even if the concept of critical successes are just as likely to go in the PCs favor at any given time.

If you're coming from PF1, I don't think you have much to worry about in terms of the non-damage critical failure effects causing TPKs more than you're used to, in that even regular failures in PF1 are often just as TPKtastic. If you're coming from a game more like 4e, which solved the problem of save or out of the fight by removing many of those effects and allowing a probable recovery from negative effects every round (4e's saving throws), it might indeed be more dangerous.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
GentleGiant wrote:
Zuresh wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:
Zuresh wrote:
In regard to the Certain strike, is it an specific action with that name or does it change how my basic attack functions? I hope its not the first option because it would look like d&d 4th edition with the little boxes saying what you can or can't do, all of them restricted by your class. Also, how will it interact with another things like Power attack? Will those stack? Will I be able to combine several effects?
It's a feat, allowing you to do that as an action. Power Attack is also an action, so you can't combine the two (unless there's another feat combining the two, but then you'd have to take that as well).
So 4th edition it is. Too bad.
Erm, no, no more than taking Power Attack or similar feats are 4th edition.

Well, in the first edition you can combine feats.

If you can't charge, power attack, Spirited charge, whatever else at the same time (Using examples of pathfinder 1ed) because the combined thing isn't an action and you have to choose one of them... Then it's looking a lot like d&d 4th ed to me. And we know how that went.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
NielsenE wrote:
In the certain strike example, we'd need a "critical failure: miss" rules line to match up to description of the feat/ability, given the logic right before. Ie upstream it said if no critical failure is listed, then use the failure result, but certain strike changed failure from miss to "minimum damage hit" so critical failure should also be "minimum damage hit" if not called out, right?
This is actually covered in the full wording of the feat.

Perfect. Thanks.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I like that you are fixing a lot of the problems with Pathfinder V1.

I like the unified mechanic.

I like the change to Save or Lose spells.

It looks like you've done great things, looking forward to V2.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Seifter wrote:
If you're coming from PF1, I don't think you have much to worry about in terms of the non-damage critical failure effects causing TPKs more than you're used to, in that even regular failures in PF1 are often just as TPKtastic. If you're coming from a game more like 4e, which solved the problem of save or out of the fight by removing many of those effects and allowing a probable recovery from negative effects every round (4e's saving throws), it might indeed be more dangerous.

That's a fair response (and I come from PF1.) The damage part still concerns me, though. Employing this system makes anything dealing damage that deals with a save more dangerous than it was in PF1.

In PF1, if your damage effect allowed a save, you had two results: 50% damage and 100% damage (the average of the two results is 75% damage, even though you probably didn't have a 50/50 chance of saving.)

In PF2, you have four results: 0%, 50%, 100%, 200%, and the average of those results is 87.5%. Again, your likelihood is not going to be 25/25/25/25 on those. But if you're reasonably as likely to perform a critical failure as a critical save, then overall this system is going to result in more damage, and the times in which it results in that damage (the 200% damage on a critical failure) are going to be the most significant. A 0/50/100/150 scale would maintain the 75% average that existed in PF1.

Of course, the entire system could be based around more damage being thrown around, with better options for damage prevention or recovery, who knows. We'll see how this plays out when people start getting their feet wet with it, I suppose.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I should say, while I've been harping on the skill thing, that I like the system as presented for attacks and saves. Here's my guesses on the spell list:

banishment or dismissal
earthquake
suggestion
feeblemind
gust of wind
aid another action?
confusion
phantasmal killer
cure light wounds
Intimidate check

And hey, with the skills, I just plan on playtesting the system hard. I intend to come up with the least plausible actions the skill system allows and retry them over and over until I roll a 20. I'll include any such zaniness in playtest reports.

Paizo Employee Designer

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Ultrace wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
If you're coming from PF1, I don't think you have much to worry about in terms of the non-damage critical failure effects causing TPKs more than you're used to, in that even regular failures in PF1 are often just as TPKtastic. If you're coming from a game more like 4e, which solved the problem of save or out of the fight by removing many of those effects and allowing a probable recovery from negative effects every round (4e's saving throws), it might indeed be more dangerous.

That's a fair response (and I come from PF1.) The damage part still concerns me, though. Employing this system makes anything dealing damage that deals with a save more dangerous than it was in PF1.

In PF1, if your damage effect allowed a save, you had two results: 50% damage and 100% damage (the average of the two results is 75% damage, even though you probably didn't have a 50/50 chance of saving.) In PF2, you have four results: 0%, 50%, 100%, 200%, and the average of those results is 87.5%. Again, your likelihood is not going to be 25/25/25/25 on those. But if you're reasonably as likely to perform a critical failure as a critical save, then overall this system is going to result in more damage, and the times in which it results in that damage (the 200% damage on a critical failure) are going to be the most significant. A 0/50/100/150 scale would maintain the 75% average that existed in PF1.

Of course, the entire system could be based around more damage being thrown around, with better options for damage prevention or recovery, who knows. We'll see how this plays out when people start getting their feet wet with it, I suppose.

If you're ever equally likely to critically fail as to critically succeed, then it is provably true that the chance of either is 5%.

If you think of it, though, double damage isn't really too different than if the spell required an attack roll against each target and you got a x2 crit on one of them, right?


Zuresh wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:
Zuresh wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:
Zuresh wrote:
In regard to the Certain strike, is it an specific action with that name or does it change how my basic attack functions? I hope its not the first option because it would look like d&d 4th edition with the little boxes saying what you can or can't do, all of them restricted by your class. Also, how will it interact with another things like Power attack? Will those stack? Will I be able to combine several effects?
It's a feat, allowing you to do that as an action. Power Attack is also an action, so you can't combine the two (unless there's another feat combining the two, but then you'd have to take that as well).
So 4th edition it is. Too bad.
Erm, no, no more than taking Power Attack or similar feats are 4th edition.

Well, in the first edition you can combine feats.

If you can't charge, power attack, Spirited charge, whatever else at the same time (Using examples of pathfinder 1ed) because the combined thing isn't an action and you have to choose one of them... Then it's looking a lot like d&d 4th ed to me. And we know how that went.

As a fighter, you may not be able to chsrge and power attack, but you could charge and attack twice. I feel like trying to make a pf1e thing work in pf2e the same may not be as easy, but i still think we'll have competitive strategies

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

great post , i really like it and how it was layed out

Paizo Employee Designer

13 people marked this as a favorite.
ryric wrote:

And hey, with the skills, I just plan on playtesting the system hard. I intend to come up with the least plausible actions the skill system allows and retry them over and over until I roll a 20. I'll include any such zaniness in playtest reports.

Honestly, we can't really ask for more from a playtester than that kind of dedication. It's what helps us tighten our language and make the best game we possibly can!


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Great blog post. I like how you plan to solve the save or suck problem with a unified mechanic.


Also, just a heads up- I am going to get very grabby about any non-ancestry reroll options that come out. If those are still allowed (or sneak past Player's Companion editorial process or whatever), they could pretty easily break the principle of avoiding must-take options.

Sovereign Court

GentleGiant wrote:
thflame wrote:
I'm not sure I like the fighter doing minimum damage when he "misses". The way I read this, because there is no "critical failure" blurb, he even does minimum damage on a critical failure too? (Or is it that because there is no critical failure blurb, that there is no effect?) I feel like a fighter should still be able to miss, no matter how high a level he is.
That's a special attack, like Sudden Charge, so probably something you have to take a feat to do and might have to spend two actions on doing.

I just want to support this, because as written, if a critical failure uses the failure line if there is no critical failure line, then, for this action, they will always deal minimum damage on a failure. I can see myriad power gamers lining up to exploit that loophole.

Paizo Employee Designer

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Neume wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:
thflame wrote:
I'm not sure I like the fighter doing minimum damage when he "misses". The way I read this, because there is no "critical failure" blurb, he even does minimum damage on a critical failure too? (Or is it that because there is no critical failure blurb, that there is no effect?) I feel like a fighter should still be able to miss, no matter how high a level he is.
That's a special attack, like Sudden Charge, so probably something you have to take a feat to do and might have to spend two actions on doing.
I just want to support this, because as written, if a critical failure uses the failure line if there is no critical failure line, then, for this action, they will always deal minimum damage on a failure. I can see myriad power gamers lining up to exploit that loophole.

As I mentioned above but got lost in the other posts, the full text of the feat does not leave that loophole. I only excerpted the failure entry from the feat.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Neume wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:
thflame wrote:
I'm not sure I like the fighter doing minimum damage when he "misses". The way I read this, because there is no "critical failure" blurb, he even does minimum damage on a critical failure too? (Or is it that because there is no critical failure blurb, that there is no effect?) I feel like a fighter should still be able to miss, no matter how high a level he is.
That's a special attack, like Sudden Charge, so probably something you have to take a feat to do and might have to spend two actions on doing.
I just want to support this, because as written, if a critical failure uses the failure line if there is no critical failure line, then, for this action, they will always deal minimum damage on a failure. I can see myriad power gamers lining up to exploit that loophole.
As I mentioned above but got lost in the other posts, the full text of the feat does not leave that loophole. I only excerpted the failure entry from the feat.

I think people are focusing more on the part that says:

"if an effect doesn't list a critical failure entry (...) you just use the result for a failure".

Instead of looking into the part that says:
"if a failure entry is missing, that means nothing happens on a failure".


Zuresh wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:
Zuresh wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:
Zuresh wrote:
In regard to the Certain strike, is it an specific action with that name or does it change how my basic attack functions? I hope its not the first option because it would look like d&d 4th edition with the little boxes saying what you can or can't do, all of them restricted by your class. Also, how will it interact with another things like Power attack? Will those stack? Will I be able to combine several effects?
It's a feat, allowing you to do that as an action. Power Attack is also an action, so you can't combine the two (unless there's another feat combining the two, but then you'd have to take that as well).
So 4th edition it is. Too bad.
Erm, no, no more than taking Power Attack or similar feats are 4th edition.

Well, in the first edition you can combine feats.

If you can't charge, power attack, Spirited charge, whatever else at the same time (Using examples of pathfinder 1ed) because the combined thing isn't an action and you have to choose one of them... Then it's looking a lot like d&d 4th ed to me. And we know how that went.

You're mixing apples and oranges. You can still combine actions, like Sudden Charge does. There were attack "modes" you couldn't combine in PF1 either.


GentleGiant wrote:
Zuresh wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:
Zuresh wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:
Zuresh wrote:
In regard to the Certain strike, is it an specific action with that name or does it change how my basic attack functions? I hope its not the first option because it would look like d&d 4th edition with the little boxes saying what you can or can't do, all of them restricted by your class. Also, how will it interact with another things like Power attack? Will those stack? Will I be able to combine several effects?
It's a feat, allowing you to do that as an action. Power Attack is also an action, so you can't combine the two (unless there's another feat combining the two, but then you'd have to take that as well).
So 4th edition it is. Too bad.
Erm, no, no more than taking Power Attack or similar feats are 4th edition.

Well, in the first edition you can combine feats.

If you can't charge, power attack, Spirited charge, whatever else at the same time (Using examples of pathfinder 1ed) because the combined thing isn't an action and you have to choose one of them... Then it's looking a lot like d&d 4th ed to me. And we know how that went.
You're mixing apples and oranges. You can still combine actions, like Sudden Charge does. There were attack "modes" you couldn't combine in PF1 either.

Maybe it's a bad example. As long as there are things that you can combine I guess I'll be happy.

51 to 100 of 567 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Archive / Pathfinder / Playtests & Prerelease Discussions / Pathfinder Playtest / Pathfinder Playtest Prerelease Discussion / Paizo Blog: Critical Hits and Critical Failures All Messageboards