Straight critical hits?


Combat & Magic


I don’t like critical threats. Part of the excitement of playing 2nd edition was rolling a 20. I just don’t think 3rd edition has the same explosive exhilaration when you roll a 20. Since 3rd edition has been around, I have never heard anyone complain about critical threats. Does anyone else get this feeling? Has anyone considered using straight critical hits in PRPG? Just curious.


I agree, the straight critical is much better. The natural 20 is the way to go. No rolling and rolling again.


I have to disagree here . theres alot of fun in rolling a threat it builds alot of excitement at my table. maybe a +2 to damage even if you fail might be a nice add on but leave threats in .

Liberty's Edge

I disagree.

Straight threats on a single result favor whoever rolls the most dice to hit. The more times you roll, the more chances to get that critical hit.
This will almost always be the monsters, and it will inevitably make them more powerful than the PCs.


Removing the critical threat roll does not favor the monsters, it actually applies fairly equally to both DM and Players, with a slight slant toward PCs with multiple iterative attacks.

It worked well enough in pre-3E D&D to stay around, and from the experiences I've had in 3.5 fairly recently, removing the threat roll, and making the threat range of a weapon the crit range serves to both speed up play a smidgen, and is a bit more fun.

The 3rd-level wizard in my campaign had a very relevant crit once with a crossbow, that likely would not have happened with the threat roll given the rather crappy BAB of wizards. It certainly made the player happy.


The problem is, without a critical threat, characters with a low attack bonus will have a higher percentage of their hits be a critical. Sure, fighters will hit more often, but almost every time a wizard hits, it will be a critical. Adding a threat and confirm makes a fighter more likely to critical, which is the way it should be, I think.


Removing the critical threat actually hurts the players, because they are to encounter more foes than NPCs. the threat range is a way to reduce the amount of random good hits while building suspense.


The threat range also allows weapons to vary a bit in performance. Having an auto critical might mess with this or make it difficult to make it fair. There are feats that this would mess with also not to mention some of the class abilities to have auto criticals IIRC.

I wonder how Paizo is going to decide issues like this? Do they run a poll for every point? Design by committee is like herding cats...


Navior wrote:
The problem is, without a critical threat, characters with a low attack bonus will have a higher percentage of their hits be a critical. Sure, fighters will hit more often, but almost every time a wizard hits, it will be a critical. Adding a threat and confirm makes a fighter more likely to critical, which is the way it should be, I think.

How?

The fighter is going to roll a d20 for attacks far more often than a wizard will, meaning the chances of the fighter getting a 20 are much better than a wizard getting one. This alone makes the fighter more likely to crit.

And while the DM may end up rolling far more d20s than all of the Players combined, the individual PCs that are using physical attacks are going to end up with more critical hits than individual enemies they face.

Using critical threats requires rolling another die for each "threat", which has a negative effect on "game speed" that many people seem so concerned about. It also serves to [b]reduce[/i] the number of criticals, because the second roll can come back a failure despite having a wider range to hit for success.

And while I'm not overly concerned about the time it takes a character to confirm their critical threats, the grognard in me finds the pre-3E way of doing crits on a single roll (though with the expanded range of 3E/3.5) to be simpler and elegant, at least from my POV.


modus0 wrote:

Removing the critical threat roll does not favor the monsters, it actually applies fairly equally to both DM and Players, with a slight slant toward PCs with multiple iterative attacks.

It worked well enough in pre-3E D&D to stay around, and from the experiences I've had in 3.5 fairly recently, removing the threat roll, and making the threat range of a weapon the crit range serves to both speed up play a smidgen, and is a bit more fun.

The 3rd-level wizard in my campaign had a very relevant crit once with a crossbow, that likely would not have happened with the threat roll given the rather crappy BAB of wizards. It certainly made the player happy.

I actually know a DM who's renowned for his uncanny ability to roll 20s. It's not cheating... he does it with any die, even random number generators in online games. Some people are just really lucky, and I can attest to the sheer number of dead players who would not benefit from him getting an automatic confirm every time he rolls a 20.

Even if you take lucky dice out of the equation, removing confirmation would needlessly complicate the game rather than simplify it, since there are any number of weapons and creatures with much better threat ranges than a flat 20. It's not like confirming a crit is that hard for the barbarian with the greataxe anyway, unless he's fighting a monster with high AC, and there aren't many of those. Monsters don't go crazy with the AC boosts like players do. I have a group now where every single player regularly boosts AC up to nearly 30 with every conceivable potion, spell, and magic item available in the SRD. Monsters with AC that high are irregular at best.

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I can't say that as a player I love the confiramtion roll (too many missed crits under my belt to love the current system)... But that said, it would be WAY too common for things like rapiers to crit without a confirmation roll. If you bring the Crit deck to the table I shudder to think of the number of cards that could be drawn in a single battle. Some sort of confirmation mechanic needs to remain in the game even if its a lame roll of 6 on a d6.

As another option: I know lots of folks are dead set against Action Points and I can see the reasons why but if you are looking for an easy alternative to the confirmation check you could add action points as an optional rule and allow an action point to confirm crits in lieu of the confirmation check (although picking up the dice should still be an option).


Biomage wrote:
I don’t like critical threats. Part of the excitement of playing 2nd edition was rolling a 20.

I disagree here. I love the crit threat idea and it's one of my favorite aspects of 3.x system. A straight roll of 20 is too common for a crit. Back in 1E, there were lots of crits on both sides of the screen with the characters usually dying.

When I heard that 4.0 was doing away with crit threats, that really made me sad. This is a great mechanic for handling crits and keeping them rather rare. And thank goodness no crit tables -- those were a nightmare. Crit multiplier is way simpler to handle in game.

Keep it is my vote.


In the 3.5 system, if a character rolls a 20, they automatically hit. The threat roll is to see if they actually do critical damage.

Just do away with the threat roll. If the character would have hit on a roll of 20 (not considering it automatic), then it is considered a critical hit. If it character could not hit without the automatic hit, the character hits but doesn’t do critical damage.

It just speeds up combat and maintains the excitement of rolling the initial 20.

Liberty's Edge

In our group, the current campaign, with a natural 20 you always get a crit no matter what. With weapons that have a bigger threat range you still have to confirm, example rapier, confirm 15-19, but not on the 20. It currently works pretty well, but we will see if at higher levels it unbalances things. The current level is 6 so we are just now getting to multiple attacks


If increased threat range of weapons like rapiers is a big issue without the critical threat confirmation, perhaps the threat range should be removed or adjusted.

One idea is to take the weapons with a threat range of 18-20 and make them 19-20, with all other weapons requiring a straight 20 for a critical. Feats like Improved Critical or magic item enchantments like Keen could still increase the threat range of a weapon, and even stack again without resulting in critical threat ranges approaching 50%.

Or the current 3.5 system can be left alone entirely, if nothing better can be made to work reasonably.


modus0 wrote:

The fighter is going to roll a d20 for attacks far more often than a wizard will, meaning the chances of the fighter getting a 20 are much better than a wizard getting one. This alone makes the fighter more likely to crit.

You're right that the figther will have a larger absolute number of criticals sheerly through attacking more frequently (the wizard really should be spending energy on spells). However, the proportions are off. Let's say a fighter can hit on an 11 or better. In 20 hits, that fighter will likely get 2 criticals, that's one out of every ten hits. Now let's say a wizard who can hit on a 19 or 20 gets two hits. One of those hits is likely to be a critical. 50% of the wizards hits are criticals while only 10% of the fighters are.

Admittedly, this is a matter of taste, as the fighter will get more criticals due to attacking much more often. For some people, that's all they really need. However, the disproportion is something that really bothers me, and it's why I loved 3E's confirmation roll the moment I first heard about it.


I should add that I don't really consider this a huge deal. If confirmation rolls are removed, it's pretty easy to houserule them back in, or vice versa for those who don't like them.

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My players hate the idea of fixed criticals!

...of course we use the Critical Hit Deck and it scares us to death. Good fun!

Dark Archive

I vote to keep the confimation roll, for all the reason already discussed in this topic. No need for auto criticals.


I like the confriming roll it adds tension and excitement to combat. It also aloows a players choices in tactics and charcter design to have an impact on the outcome of a critical roll, a straight 20 does not.

Dark Archive

I have to disagree with the OP. While as a player, I think it might be fun to crit more often (assuming threat ranges translated directly into crit ranges), as a DM I think not. Crits will happen much more often, and this is a BAD THING. Crits should be special, in my opinion, and they generally are, as we now use the Critical Hit Deck. I also know that I generally don't like rolling a crit as the DM, as it usually ends badly for my players. So I think keeping them rare is in the best interests of the game.


I'd leave this one in the realm of houseruling - keep the standard confirmation roll, but if the GM wants to rule in auto crits, then they can.

Plus, the Bull-man can still use his meteoric iron die for confirming crits. :P

Dark Archive Contributor

Lilith wrote:

I'd leave this one in the realm of houseruling - keep the standard confirmation roll, but if the GM wants to rule in auto crits, then they can.

Plus, the Bull-man can still use his meteoric iron die for confirming crits. :P

You probably just made the #1 argument for keeping confirmation rolls in PFRPG. lol :D


Ditch the confirmation roll. It breaks up the flow of the game and leads to player disappointment more often than not.
Confirmation rolls usually only work against creatures with low ACs anyway.
Players end up critting against measly goblins that they'd kill in one shot anyway. But they rarely end up making that confirmation roll against the high AC monsters that they really do need to crit, like dragons and demons.
Confirmation rolls always detract from the excitement instead of adding to it.


Biomage wrote:

I don’t like critical threats. Part of the excitement of playing 2nd edition was rolling a 20. I just don’t think 3rd edition has the same explosive exhilaration when you roll a 20. Since 3rd edition has been around, I have never heard anyone complain about critical threats. Does anyone else get this feeling? Has anyone considered using straight critical hits in PRPG? Just curious.

No staright crits for us. the system alsways has worked well and the exitement of 3.5 crits is still there. the rule works well as it is, so don't change it.


I just want to throw in my vote to keeping Critical Threats.

When you roll that possible critical the tention that builds up before you even roll to confirm is great. :)

Dark Archive

DitheringFool wrote:
...of course we use the Critical Hit Deck and it scares us to death. Good fun!

Agreed. Used it for the first time last month. Worse, I make the player whose PC has been inflicted pull out the card. Nasty :)

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Getting rid of critical threats is one of the first house rules I made when I switched over to 3rd edition.

The positive side is that you don't get the letdown of rolling a nat 20 only to fail your confirmation roll. And it takes one extra roll out of combat, which always helps to speed things up.

The negative side is that it messes with the way weapons in 3rd edition are designed. Scimitars, for example, have a very high critical hit percentage. If you use the threat range, then someone with improved critical can do double damage once every 3 attacks or so. If you set it so all weapons deal criticals only on a natural 20, it means the scimitar is actually a worse option than a short sword as a weapon.

In terms of Pathfinder's design, I wouldn't mind removing the threat range and making a nat 20 always deal double damage. On the other hand, it would mean a lot of weapons would either need to be redesigned or become redundant. In order to meet the backward compatibility requirement of the RPG, I think it would be better to keep crits as is for now.

The Exchange

I didn't remove Critical Threats, but I did institute that a Nat 20 is a confirmed crit. If you have a crit range of 18-20 and roll a 19 you need to confirm. A 20 is a crit however. It works good so far and the players all love the rule. 'Cept when a BBEG rolls a 20.
;P

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

Hey there all,

I like some of the thoughts here, but I am currently feeling that the confirmation roll is here to stay. There are a wide variety of spells, feats, and powers that work with this mechanic and I am leery of changing them at this time. This also prevents following problem, a goblin, who might only be able to hit on a 20, scores a crit every time he manages to hit.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
(Besides, I have a meteor d20 that needs a use)

Liberty's Edge

I also have been considering going straight crits for my games lately. My thought is to balance the easier crits with critical misses (and use the fumble deck when it ships to balance the crit hit deck).

My two big issues with the crit threat are:
1) As the OP pointed out, it can be more exciting when you get the crit right then and there, or maybe more accurately it is deflating when you don't get a crit after the threat; and

2) in the classic case (natural 20 and double damage), the crit threat system really means that instead of a crit, you actually get one extra attack (for a total of two normal damage attacks if you confirm). When I think of it that way, it kind of kills the excitement for me. I have a harder time picturing the sweetspot attack.

But looking at some of the thoughts here, I probably will stick with the standard threat system, or try Fakey's system.

In support of keeping the threat, as Seeker and others said, the build up of the threat can add to the excitement (and can make the crit more special - but it does suck when the threat is not confirmed).

On the other hand, to address Navior's concern, I don't have a problem with the low BAB character having a higher percentage of hits end up as crits. I think that makes sense. Imagine a two-on-one street fight, a big brawler teamed up with a weakling against a tough opponent. The strong brawler can do a bit of damage to a tough enemy with just about any hit, but the weakling won't do much damage with a normal hit, he needs to hit a sensitive spot. A kick to the groin, an eye gouge, etc. And those hits might do more damage than the brawler's normal hits. But it may be harder for the weakling to get to they eye gouge or groin kick. To interpret that to DnD, the fighter is gonna do steady damage each hit, but the sorcerer with his crossbow or small blade and lack of combat prowess won't do much unless he hits the enemy in the neck or something. While these examples seem to blur with the sneak attack concept, I see crits and sneak attacks as two sides of the same coin. Crits are lucky hits to sensitive areas, sneak attacks are well placed hits to sensitive ares (which is why the extra-attack threat system irks me as I said in issue 2 above). So I am OK with the result Navior is worried about (as he said, it is a matter of taste).

I do have to say, I think Fakey's system might be a good balance.

But for a rulebook, I'd say Lilith has it right. Keep it in and houserule whatever system suits your group's taste.

(This was a long-winded way of saying "keep the status quo").


Biomage wrote:

I don’t like critical threats. Part of the excitement of playing 2nd edition was rolling a 20. I just don’t think 3rd edition has the same explosive exhilaration when you roll a 20. Since 3rd edition has been around, I have never heard anyone complain about critical threats. Does anyone else get this feeling? Has anyone considered using straight critical hits in PRPG? Just curious.

I use some of the old Blood & Steel Rules.

If you meet the critical threat range and you hit by 5 or more.

The prevents the lowlies from criting things they can only hit on a natural 20 anyway.

Scarab Sages

I have played campaigns with both (auto-crit and threats) and I personally find the following:

Threats are more balanced.

Because something like a Grell or a Dragon could attack you 8 times in one round, they will invariably roll more threats than a 20th level fighter. By using threats, there is a chance some of those will be eliminated.

Auto-Crits are way more fun/

Seriously, players love rolling critical hits, and there is nothing worse than losing a crit to a shoddy confirmation roll.

My general crit rule is an attempt to comprimise:

1. 20 is an auto-hit and auto-crit.
Larger threat range is an auto-crit if it hits.
2. Roll weapon damage once and multiply by weapons crit multiplier.
3. Any damage bonus (such as Str) is not multiplied.

The result is that the warriors crits are more impressive, as they tend to use better martial weapons, and a monster crit on a player is less of an impact (because the hill giants 2d8+10 does not become 4d8+20). The odds say the average damage from a crit increases, but the maximum damage is lessened, which is what I want from a crit.

I tried switching back to the normal crit rules and EVERY person in my group complained!


Jason Bulmahn wrote:
This also prevents following problem, a goblin, who might only be able to hit on a 20, scores a crit every time he manages to hit.

Apart from the point you make about backwards compatibiliy, the above issue about the auto-critting goblin is the most pressing one for me. As I understand it, this is the main reason that the confirm roll exists, and with good cause.


Paul Hedges wrote:
In our group, the current campaign, with a natural 20 you always get a crit no matter what. With weapons that have a bigger threat range you still have to confirm, example rapier, confirm 15-19, but not on the 20. It currently works pretty well, but we will see if at higher levels it unbalances things. The current level is 6 so we are just now getting to multiple attacks

I really like that idea.


Kamelion wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
This also prevents following problem, a goblin, who might only be able to hit on a 20, scores a crit every time he manages to hit.
Apart from the point you make about backwards compatibiliy, the above issue about the auto-critting goblin is the most pressing one for me. As I understand it, this is the main reason that the confirm roll exists, and with good cause.

However, that goblin that requires a natural 20 to hit the PCs is not likely to get more than one 20 in combat, and the PCs would have to face ridiculous amounts to actually be threatened by that.

Of course, the straight critical might be more dangerous when used by a dragon or pit fiend, I don't know as I haven't managed to game around that level under the d20 rules.


Please, keep the crit confirmation!
It is a great source of excitement that easily justifies an extra roll. "Oh man - it's a threat - yeah come on, gimme a crit...". Players love this.

And straight crits simply does not work. People who only hit on a 20 will always score a crit when they hit (due to their lack of skill!?).

Another thing, the current system allows for simple diferences in the weapons. Some score crits more easily. This is cool.


If ya took the confirm away I would kill alot of pc's they dread my d20 rolling skills my green and black dice are death it seems when I roll them.


Confirming the crits work really good. My players occasionally find themselves fighting Ye Ol' Swarm O' Kobolds, and that keeps the kobolds from criticalling them to death.

However, we have a house rule we adapted from the old optional 3.0 rule that the 3rd crit is instant death:

If you confirm a critical, you get to roll again. If you confirm the hit a second time +1 is added to the critical modifier.

Fighters and rogues in particular love this.

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Lilith wrote:
I'd leave this one in the realm of houseruling - keep the standard confirmation roll, but if the GM wants to rule in auto crits, then they can.

Agreed. We crit on a 20, no confirmation roll needed, but I see no reason for that to be the official rule as me house-ruling takes no effort at all.

My attitude regarding all these proposed changes is more and more getting to be that ties go to 3.5; as much as possible, just leave things alone and only fix what is really broken.


I rather like critical threats. As mentioned, it reduces the number of criticals that weak opponents get against strong opponents, while keeping it fairly quick.

If we WERE to get rid of the threat, I would borrow from Combat and Tactics, which required that your critical roll beat your minimum needed to strike by 5 or better. So, if I need a 20 to hit something, I can't critical; I can only critical if I normally have to roll a 15 or better to hit that AC, and roll a 20. The increased critical range would become a decreased critical range... a longsword could make its critical if you rolled a 20 and beat the necessary to-hit by 4. A scimitar would only require you to beat it by 3.

Not sure of the math on that, but it looks good, keeps most of the mechanics intact, and removes the threat roll.


I use to run aut crit on 20, then my cousin told me about critical threat. I started using it and my players were disapointed.

So, I house ruled it.

x-20 = critical threat

If the second roll hits, it is double damage.

If the second roll misses, it is a normal hit, with double bonus. 1d6+2 = 1d6+4

If the second roll crits again, it is a catistrophic threat.

If the third roll hits, it is triple damage.

If the third roll misses, it is double damage, with a triple bonus. 1d6+2 = (1d6+6 + 1d6+6)

If the third roll crits again, and yes I have seen this happen once, it is a kill shot, period.

Now, my players are young, and as a result this adds a lot of excitement to the game. When my youngest son rolled a double crit with his warforged against a dragon, and got ready to roll his third, they were cheering him on. When he rolled his third critical roll in a row, they screamed.

It works for my group.

And yes, monsters get the same bonus...but on a natural 20 only.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Jason Bulmahn wrote:

Hey there all,

I like some of the thoughts here, but I am currently feeling that the confirmation roll is here to stay. There are a wide variety of spells, feats, and powers that work with this mechanic and I am leery of changing them at this time. This also prevents following problem, a goblin, who might only be able to hit on a 20, scores a crit every time he manages to hit.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
(Besides, I have a meteor d20 that needs a use)

It also doesn't break the balance of lower crit values (like Keen Rapier) from being a critical 25% of the time.

If you removed the critical thread roll, you would need to do a lot of work on weapons/spells that crit on scores below 20.

Liberty's Edge

Bryan Bagnas wrote:
Biomage wrote:
I don’t like critical threats. Part of the excitement of playing 2nd edition was rolling a 20.

I disagree here. I love the crit threat idea and it's one of my favorite aspects of 3.x system. A straight roll of 20 is too common for a crit. Back in 1E, there were lots of crits on both sides of the screen with the characters usually dying.

When I heard that 4.0 was doing away with crit threats, that really made me sad. This is a great mechanic for handling crits and keeping them rather rare. And thank goodness no crit tables -- those were a nightmare. Crit multiplier is way simpler to handle in game.

Keep it is my vote.

Agreed.


My gaming group uses a house rule for critical hits. First, we prefer 2d10 instead of 1d20 for rolls (we like the spread better...1% chance of 1 or 20 instead of 5% chance of any result). Using this system, we do NOT confirm critical hits on a roll of natural 20. If you roll another result that is in your weapon's crit range THEN we roll to confirm.

Dark Archive

I how about using action points to confirm crits. When a player or monster rolls a 20 it's just a regular roll,not even a threat, but if the PC or monster spends an action point then that 20 is a crit. No needing to confirm the crit. And , depending how action points are ruled, not all monsters have action points so the DM down't have much to keep up with but the main monsters that the DM wants to actually have action points.


I don't like the idea of Joe Blow the Scmoe being just as likely to do 20 points of damage with a bastard sword as Sir Amazing the Bastard Sword Amazement Person (not counting Strength or Weapon Specialization). Simply put, allowing the dinks to crit automatically means dramatically reducing the survivability of wearing the heavier armors, since now they have no impact on whether or not you are struck vitally. They also produce the "hit means crit" phenomenon, where a spellcaster who has a very low attack roll attempts to strike a heavily-armored foe - hits mean crits in this case, because a 20 is the only way to hit (exaggeration, but even if a hit occurs on an 18 to 20, it still means too high a crit to hit ratio, especially with wider threat ranges).


I encourage doing away with critical hit confirmation. I do so myself, but I do it in conjunction with the softer critical hits variant from the DMG. A natural 20 automatically hits and scores a critical, but only if the weapon still has the potential to score a critical hit under the softer critical hits variant. With weapons that still threaten a critical hit on a 19 or 20, such as a rapier, a natural 19 does not automatically hit, but it does automatically score a critical hit in the event it does hit.

Pretty simple and eliminates a few rolls.

Dark Archive

Bryan Bagnas wrote:
Biomage wrote:
I don’t like critical threats. Part of the excitement of playing 2nd edition was rolling a 20.

I disagree here. I love the crit threat idea and it's one of my favorite aspects of 3.x system. A straight roll of 20 is too common for a crit. Back in 1E, there were lots of crits on both sides of the screen with the characters usually dying.

When I heard that 4.0 was doing away with crit threats, that really made me sad. This is a great mechanic for handling crits and keeping them rather rare. And thank goodness no crit tables -- those were a nightmare. Crit multiplier is way simpler to handle in game.

Keep it is my vote.

I agree -- let's keep the confirmation rolls. Like other have said, they add a lot of excitement to the game without being too complex. And, the crit ranges add more variety to the weapons, too.

BTW, I wonder why the 4E designers complained about crit multipliers being a "too complex" system? Seems to me that quite a many of the "exploits"/powers use the same formula (i.e. 3 X Weapon Damage + Stat)...

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