Called Shots, What gives?


Combat


What ever happened to making called shots? Where are the rules for shooting someone in the hand, leg, or eye? In previous Editions there were simple, functional, realistic rules for it that included penalties to hit and side effects.


Soulrutep wrote:

What ever happened to making called shots? Where are the rules for shooting someone in the hand, leg, or eye? In previous Editions there were simple, functional, realistic rules for it that included penalties to hit and side effects.

In the previous editions called shots weren't in the main sourcebooks. I believe, though, a lot of people used the old Hackmaster rules where you had a -8 to hit the head, -4 to hit a specific small target like kneecap or hand, and -2 to hit a specific arm or leg. I recall torso shots were free. Then the hitpoints for those areas were a percentage of the players total hit points... It's been a while since my groups have done called shots, we mainly used them for Modern D20 when people wanted to headshot zombies :P I had a player in one of my games playing a ranger and he tried calling headshots every once and awhile but he sorta gave up after always missing.


What happened is that called shots are silly thing to have in 3.x. Either they do almost nothing, and nobody uses them, or they rule combat, and the penalties to hit are rendered meaningless by spells like True Strike and Wraithstrike.


Kalis wrote:
What happened is that called shots are silly thing to have in 3.x. Either they do almost nothing, and nobody uses them, or they rule combat, and the penalties to hit are rendered meaningless by spells like True Strike and Wraithstrike.

True dat.

Shadow Lodge

Yeah, but the Hydra still requires a called shot to kill. Of course it is the only monster in the book that requires it.


Daniel Simonson wrote:
Yeah, but the Hydra still requires a called shot to kill. Of course it is the only monster in the book that requires it.

It doesn't require it, in fact my players have learned its better to leave a hydra with its starting heads and just kill its torso because once two full health heads grow out of the stump things will start sucking again.


When it comes up, I just change the size modifier of the target appropriately. A leg is small, a head is tiny, a hand is diminutive, and an eye is fine. Just use that modifier in place of the target's size modifier. Common sense applies.

This is simple and logical. I think there's some resistance to a canonical called shot rule, mainly because of how the HP system.

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http://www.seankreynolds.com/rpgfiles/rants/calledshots.html

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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
http://www.seankreynolds.com/rpgfiles/rants/calledshots.html

I concur with our resident game designing guru. When I was younger, I toyed around with systems (and homebrew rules) that included hit locations, and I found them, ultimately, to be far more of a joy kill than anything else. That sort of strict simulationism slows down gameplay too much, imo, or it makes combat far too deadly (which is realistic, sure, but not fun). Some games, which I love, use an armor-as-a-damage-reducer method (e.g., Earthdawn, Conan D20), and the fact that it slows combat down far outweighs any small amount of satisfaction I may get for it being "more realistic," and I find that I enjoy the more quick paced and abstract Pathfinder combat system much more.


I remember reading about how to incorporate called shots in games from back in the 2nd AD&D days. It was introduced as a plot device like Smaug's missing scale, Achilles' heel, or a bullet to a zombie's brain pan. Often these shots would have special results in the game. What happened was that in the following adventures players still wanted to keep using called shots to do things like disarm opponents or the afore mentioned quick kill in later game after the neat little plot device was supposed to be over.
I also vaguely recall reading in 3.0 that called shots were completely done away with. Though I never read it I'm sure All Flesh Must Be Eaten d20 would have rules called shots.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Still, it's been a nice tool to crop up occasionally for roleplaying purposes. The easiest way to do a called shot is to add a size variable relevant to the location of the called shot. Allow one shot - full round - to pull it off.

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Audrin_Noreys wrote:
Though I never read it I'm sure All Flesh Must Be Eaten d20 would have rules called shots.

It does, but if applied to regular combat it would make things too deadly (applying crippling conditions, etc., stuff that Sean justifiably rants about in his linked blog).

As far as a Smaug-type situation, the way to go there, I think, is to just give the creature DR and allow for a weakness where the DR is either less or nonexistent. Applying regular penalties for this kind of called shot would work, and you won't be setting a dangerous precedent, since this weakness is clearly unique (and totally up to the GM's discretion).


May be a bit off-topic, but only a bit.

I came into contact with the Pathfinder sunder rules, such as they are, in my last game session where my character tried to cut an opponent's sword belt before he could get his falchion drawn.

Am I right in interpreting that the opposed roll for sunder attempts no longer applies, and I'm just attacking his AC modified by size of the target? that seems.. off. See P151, I think this rule needs to be cleaned up.


Saurstalk wrote:
Still, it's been a nice tool to crop up occasionally for roleplaying purposes. The easiest way to do a called shot is to add a size variable relevant to the location of the called shot. Allow one shot - full round - to pull it off.

If you're going to do it this way, be sure to remove the original size modifier first ;)


Soulrutep wrote:
What ever happened to making called shots? Where are the rules for shooting someone in the hand, leg, or eye?

Called shots fall under the heading of "critical hits" in 3.5. If you want the possibility of blinding your opponent (etc.), you could use Paizo's Critical Hit Deck (which has various results like that).

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Hank Woon wrote:
As far as a Smaug-type situation, the way to go there, I think, is to just give the creature DR and allow for a weakness where the DR is either less or nonexistent. Applying regular penalties for this kind of called shot would work, and you won't be setting a dangerous precedent, since this weakness is clearly unique (and totally up to the GM's discretion).

I'd handle this differently. If the PC knows about the weakness and aims for it, I'd consider the creature's natural armor ineffectual for this particular shot. If the PC hits, I'd then roll a concealment percentile to determine if they were accurate in hitting the missing scale. If they fail the concealment roll, then the arrow bounces off the other scales, where the natural armor does apply, even if the hit were enough to normally do damage. If they succeed, I'd make it an auto-crit.


I always thought things like this were what criticals were introduced to handle. A combatant is always aiming for vital targets like the head, eye, or arteries. The rarity of the critical represents the difficulty in hitting these locations. Some of the optional crit tables even used these ideas by blinding the target, or causing bleeding wounds. (When I tried to implement such a table, my pcs rebelled, saying it hurt them more than the npcs. They were right, of course.)

Maybe what is called for, in the interest of simplicity, is a generalized "called shot mechanic." A penalty to the attack roll in exchange for increased threat range on the attack. It wouldn't be too overbalanced, since standard crit rules state that only a natural 20 is an auto-hit. Treat it like fighting defensively, -4 to hit, +1 to threat range (or +2 if you feel generous). Just make it a flat bonus instead of a doubling or something so that heavy-crit characters can't get extra benefit from it.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
http://www.seankreynolds.com/rpgfiles/rants/calledshots.html

I agree, though I do like called shots in specific cinematic situations, but even then its just the sunder rules.


Called shots were done away with in favor of the 3.X natural 20 Crit mechanic. I'f you think about it, as your character levels up, he can obtain Feats that can increase his weapon Threat Range. This further enhances the Crit mechanic to simulate a "called shot" in that leveling up has a bit to do with being able to achieve a blow to a vital area with increasing frequency.

IMO, there aren't enough opportunities, but that's the gist of it.

If you want, you could try applying magic weapon bonus to Threat Range. That way a +3 sword has a 17+ Crit chance. This might seem too nasty, but if you apply it to all NPCs and PCs alike, it might not have as much impact. Then the concept of incidental called shot that Crits are trying to create tracks even more with characters leveling up.

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cliff wrote:
If you want, you could try applying magic weapon bonus to Threat Range. That way a +3 sword has a 17+ Crit chance. This might seem too nasty, but if you apply it to all NPCs and PCs alike, it might not have as much impact. Then the concept of incidental called shot that Crits are trying to create tracks even more with characters leveling up.

This would undo the purpose of keen weapons, though.


Hank Woon wrote:
cliff wrote:
If you want, you could try applying magic weapon bonus to Threat Range. That way a +3 sword has a 17+ Crit chance. This might seem too nasty, but if you apply it to all NPCs and PCs alike, it might not have as much impact. Then the concept of incidental called shot that Crits are trying to create tracks even more with characters leveling up.
This would undo the purpose of keen weapons, though.

Keen doubles threat range, correct? (can't really recall) It adds +1 for cost purposes, but not necessarily TO HIT.

So...

+1 to hit, Keen weapon = 18-20 CRIT
+3 to hit, Keen weapon = 14-20 CRIT

...eek...

Contributor

cliff wrote:


+1 to hit, Keen weapon = 18-20 CRIT
+3 to hit, Keen weapon = 14-20 CRIT

...eek...

And that's not including any weapons with an already increased threat range. ;)


DeathCon 00 wrote:
In the previous editions called shots weren't in the main sourcebooks.

I don't know much of 1st ed AD&D, but called shots were in the 2nd ed AD&D DMG. Some kits, such as the bladesinger, even had bonuses to perform called shots. The modifiers were indeed what Hackmaster eventually adopted (-8 to hit the head, -4 to hit a specific small target).

Soulrutep wrote:
What ever happened to making called shots? Where are the rules for shooting someone in the hand, leg, or eye? In previous Editions there were simple, functional, realistic rules for it that included penalties to hit and side effects.

I believe that there is a niche for targeted effects other than damage. Called shot could allow you to exchange damage for effects. Examples could include:

head shot: effect of Stunning Fist feat?
leg shot = caltrop wound?
arm shot = penalties on attack rolls?
gut shot = Fort save or be sickened?

At any case, called shot should not be used to dish extra damage: that is the province of critical hits (and called shots should not enhance your chances of critical hits either)

Called shots should not disable an average opponent quicker than the more traditional engagement. Instead, called shots should be effective to exploit an opponent's weakness, which involves knowledge of the said weakness.

Otherwise, I agree with the principle: called shot are a good tool for narrative combats.

'findel

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Laurefindel wrote:


I don't know much of 1st ed AD&D, but called shots were in the 2nd ed AD&D DMG.

I think I remember that... didn't it have rules for piecemeal, too? I also remember an optional rule where armor was less effective against certain types of damage (like chainmail was better vs. slash than piercing).


HOME RULE ALERT:

I tend to just add a size bonus to the character's normal AC. A hand is a tiny object, an eye is a dimenutive object, the arm/torso/leg are all small objects. If the attack roll still succeeds I give the target a fortitude save DC = damage taken. If they make the save then they are fine other than the damage. If the save is failed they can't use that body part until healed. In the case of the torso they are stunned for a round, and slowed for 1d6 rounds after that.


Hank Woon wrote:
Laurefindel wrote:


I don't know much of 1st ed AD&D, but called shots were in the 2nd ed AD&D DMG.
I think I remember that... didn't it have rules for piecemeal, too? I also remember an optional rule where armor was less effective against certain types of damage (like chainmail was better vs. slash than piercing).

Yes, there was an optional rule that gave bonuses to AC against specific types of weapons in the PHB. Full plate, If I remember right, gave a +4 bonus to AC against slashing weapons and +3 against piercing weapons.

Only one armor gave bonuses against bludgeoning weapons (chain mail even had a penalty against bludgeoning), which made bludgeoning weapons useful despite their lower damage.

Piecemeal armors were covered in the Arms and Equipment guide I believe, but perhaps it was in the Complete Fighter Handbook? They had gladiator armors as the main example if I recall...

@ Abraham Spalding:
Sounds like a good houserule. Out of curiosity, how often are the players going for a called shot? Any moments were the called shot rule became simply too advantageous to ignore?


Abraham spalding wrote:

HOME RULE ALERT:

I tend to just add a size bonus to the character's normal AC. A hand is a tiny object, an eye is a dimenutive object, the arm/torso/leg are all small objects. If the attack roll still succeeds I give the target a fortitude save DC = damage taken. If they make the save then they are fine other than the damage. If the save is failed they can't use that body part until healed. In the case of the torso they are stunned for a round, and slowed for 1d6 rounds after that.

That sounds way too good to me. For a -1 to attack rolls, you have a good chance (a really good chance at higher levels) to slow + stun an opponent? Wow. Why would you ever not do it?


Oops, I forgot a part... calling a shot is a full attack option with only one attack, and can be done ranged up to 30' away, with my house rule.

With this called shots generally got used on stuff the character didn't think he could hit more than once. It was fairly popular with rogues, but fighters tended to just want to get all their attacks in. Wizards tended to suffer under it as they where regularly being hit in the hand/arm or throat to try and shut them up, after this happened a bit too often for my liking I instituted that things that protect from sneak attacks help against called shots (after all it is hard to call a shot on the eye when the target has a displacement effect up). Mages are still the favorite targets for called shots though.


See, I like the idea of having the full attack option in which the player sacrifices all potential damage to deal Condition Damage. In essence, an attack that can inflict nausea, panic, blindness, etc.

Not sure right off the top of my head how to scale it...maybe by character level, or a generated DC based on target AC+LVL or something else I can't think of right now...


The size modifiers alone don't work. You aren't just trying to hit a smaller physical area, you are passing up opportunities to hit elsewhere to concentrate on your chosen target. If your called shot is to the head or center of mass, you still have to get through all the active defenses of your target.

It's more like attacking a smaller target with concealment or cover.


Straybow wrote:

The size modifiers alone don't work. You aren't just trying to hit a smaller physical area, you are passing up opportunities to hit elsewhere to concentrate on your chosen target. If your called shot is to the head or center of mass, you still have to get through all the active defenses of your target.

It's more like attacking a smaller target with concealment or cover.

Hence why it's a full attack action, in addition to the penalties and fortitude save. You have to carefully target (full attack action) actually hit it (penalties to hit) and then do enough to get through the target's tenacity (fortitude save).

If they make their save you spent a full attack action, for a standard attack hit.

However I had considered changing it somewhat... never did though...

The change would have been, the attack roll still has to hit, and the attack roll total - 10 is the fortitude save for the creature, no damage beyond the condition imposed... I didn't like this one so much though becuase getting hit should hurt and leave damage.


You don't consider being Blind as having been damaged? (lol)

I like that mechanic. I think I'll steal it. Thanks.


Abraham spalding wrote:


The change would have been, the attack roll still has to hit, and the attack roll total - 10 is the fortitude save for the creature, no damage beyond the condition imposed... I didn't like this one so much though becuase getting hit should hurt and leave damage.

Damage could be tied to the condition itself. For example, a successful called shot to the eye could deal 1d6 points of damage + Fort save or be blinded as the recipient of a blindness spell.

This way, the condition would also convey damage (as it logically should) without allowing heavy damage dealers to overkill their target. It would also allow very low damage dealers (as a dagger wielding halfling) to deal slightly more damage in combat without getting out-of hand.

'findel


I'd even suggest a simple 10+damage = save DC to avoid the condition damage. However, things like "paralyzed" would have to ne interpreted on eye or hand shots, for example.

Maybe a hit location list with each location stating the type of condition that will be inflicted on a called shot (so damage result doesn't waver).

I just tend to think that of the intent is to blind a target or chop off thier hand or whatever...actual HP damage is irrelevant.

Now, keep in mind that if players start making th eargument that making a called shot is easier than making a Sunder or Disarm attack, that there's a reason why there's no called shots in this system. (lol) It's sort of taken care of ny other mechanics.

Dark Archive

Soulrutep wrote:

What ever happened to making called shots? Where are the rules for shooting someone in the hand, leg, or eye? In previous Editions there were simple, functional, realistic rules for it that included penalties to hit and side effects.

But a more fundamental reason is that the combat system is built to be very generic. We don't know where hits land. There is no stats for howe much armor covers hands, feet, head, etc. Also, the attack roll system is not set up for it well, either.

I play GURPS as well, which has a great advanced combat system, which includes hit locations and all sort of realistic maneuvers. (It also has a basic system that runs much faster and is better for 95% of all the genres). It is set up for it. We have to roll parries or roll for dodging oponents attacks. You can aim for the arms, hands, neck, etc, and each area has a realistic effect when hit. To trip someone you have to perfrom a martial arts maneuver, which may take two or more rolls.

In dnd a trip is a simple contest. It isn't supposed to be realistic. We don't really know how the trip is performed. It does not have that level of detail. Sneak attacks also are generic, without detail as to how they work. To do a similar thing in GURPS we would have to attack a vital point, like the kidneys, to get more damage. In fact, I would have to say that if you add in Hit Locations, you have to do away with Sneak Attack and make new rules for how the Rogue interfaces with hit locations.

If you want to simulate called shots, take a feat that does something to hinder the opponent. For instance, the rogue's Sneak Attack and Crippling Strike abilities are DnD's called shots. Improved Critial is also such a thing, as a critical represents a hit to something vital.


Neil Phillips wrote:


But a more fundamental reason is that the combat system is built to be very generic. We don't know where hits land. There is no stats for howe much armor covers hands, feet, head, etc. Also, the attack roll system is not set up for it well, either.

That is not quite true. The DAMAGE system is generic, but specific conditions are already in the system. There are some pretty precise "called shots" already in the system, where damage is being traded for a specific condition. Namely, these are the disarm, sunder and combat maneuvers options.

[EDIT] with that in mind, maybe melee called shots should provoke AoO?

Some feat already allow conditions to apply to melee attacks (namely stunning fist) and pathfinder incorporated a few more (medusa's wrath etc)

Neil Phillips wrote:


In dnd a trip is a simple contest. It isn't supposed to be realistic. We don't really know how the trip is performed. It does not have that level of detail. Sneak attacks also are generic, without detail as to how they work. To do a similar thing in GURPS we would have to attack a vital point, like the kidneys, to get more damage. In fact, I would have to say that if you add in Hit Locations, you have to do away with Sneak Attack and make new rules for how the Rogue interfaces with hit locations.

Yet, Trip is a specific effect that can be chosen, and tried without the possession of a feat. Called shots could simply refer to specific conditions, such as "blinding the opponent", "slowing him down", "crippling his swing" etc.

Some DMs like to include creatures that are too high a challenge for the PCs to simple engage in melee in a more traditional way, but can still be bypassed through skills, spells and cunning. A called shots mechanics would provide yet another tool for the players to win an encounter without having to "kill their way through". This would be dramatic, satisfying and coherent with many example in literature (Odysseus and the Cyclop).

So while I believe that this should still be an optional rule, I'd really love an integrated mechanics that allow called shots.

'findel


Jason's new feats (found in the Announcements forum) includes a series of feats that add a rider effect to a critical hit: Nauseated, Sickened, Fatigued, Exhausted, Blind (permanent!), Deafened, Bleeding (damage over time), and Stunned.

These would simulate nearly every effect you could describe as part of a "called shot" in this type of gameplay.

Now, granted... these are high level feats (lowest is I think 11+ BAB), and only work on a critical (not really "called" at that point).
Plus, you have to purchase a feat for every single effect you are looking for.

.

Perhaps what might be better for those wanting an actual "called shot" mechanic is to create a low level feat that allows foregoing your damage on an attack to cause a particular effect, with a Fortitude or Reflex save to prevent (depending on the particular attack type).
Also, no permanent effects from this (low level).

Or make it another combat maneuver. Doing so, however, allows anyone to do it normally (even if at a penalty), and some things just don't fit well with the current mechanics (size bonus helps vs being blinded? how?).

I prefer keeping it in the trained area (requires the feat), and tying it to Fort and Reflex saves.


Laurefindel wrote:
Neil Phillips wrote:


But a more fundamental reason is that the combat system is built to be very generic. We don't know where hits land. There is no stats for howe much armor covers hands, feet, head, etc. Also, the attack roll system is not set up for it well, either.
That is not quite true. The DAMAGE system is generic, but specific conditions are already in the system. There are some pretty precise "called shots" already in the system, where damage is being traded for a specific condition. Namely, these are the disarm, sunder and combat maneuvers options.

No, not exactly. These are specific effects derived from attack attempts. Where D20 combat is most generic is the attack roll, and any given single roll of the 20 sided die is a simulation of many attempts to cause the desired outcome to happen (be that physical harm, trip, grapple, etc.)

Maybe that's what you're saying, but it sounds as if you're trying to equate a generic attack roll to conditions that result from such an attack roll (or other effect). If a combatant has multiple attacks, say he has 3 per round, he can make 3 separate trip attempts, which may result in the Condition Prone to a given target. But he can basically get 5 attempts at one target, or split his number of attempts between multiple targets.

Personally, I think the size mods work. A directed attack taking a full round action at a tiny target (an eye) gets minuses accordingly. Perhaps the attacker receives a bonus equal to his total number of iterative attacks (+3 in the case of my example above) to hit that target and the directed attack (Called Shot) requires a Full Round Action. Damage may not be calculated in negative HP, but in terms of Conditions, which are in turn dependent on the location that is being spcified (Blindness to the eyes, Deafness to the ears, Prone to the ankle, Bleeding to the gut, etc.).

To figure this out, someone will need to look at Conditions closely and see what makes most sense for attribution as damage in this way. Can the attacker decide what condition he's trying to achieve? (Bleeding vs. Nauseated vs. Prone?) Are there other penalties/bonus that need to be factored in? How does the condition damage scale? Do Conditions simply stack, or can an attacker choose greater degrees of a type of condition based on level or die roll?

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