[ThinkTank] Critical Hits


Homebrew and House Rules


This started as part of another thread, and I was asked to create a new thread for this, so here it is.
I will simply start with my initial post/idea and we'll see where this goes:

NOTE:
Just recently, I started a thread about "Generic Weapons". Mabye it might be a good idea to combine both ideas in the end...
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The problem you are talking about actually has nothing to do with swords or whatever weapon.

It's simply a fact, that the d20 critical mechanic is pretty fuzzy.

IMO, the chances for critical hits (with any weapon!) should increase with the skill of the combatant and not on the weapon used.

Basically, a critical threat should occur if your attack roll supercedes the enemy's AC by a certain number of points (I'd say 10).

So, for every 10 points above the enemy's AC you inflict the weapon's damage one additional time.

Feats like "Improved Crit" could simply lower this threshold by 2 points or something like that.

Bottom line of this rule, the bigger the difference between two combatants, the bigger the chance of critical hits (by the better combatant of course).


DracoDruid wrote:

This started as part of another thread, and I was asked to create a new thread for this, so here it is.

I will simply start with my initial post/idea and we'll see where this goes:

NOTE:
Just recently, I started a thread about "Generic Weapons". Mabye it might be a good idea to combine both ideas in the end...
-----------------------------------

The problem you are talking about actually has nothing to do with swords or whatever weapon.

It's simply a fact, that the d20 critical mechanic is pretty fuzzy.

IMO, the chances for critical hits (with any weapon!) should increase with the skill of the combatant and not on the weapon used.

Basically, a critical threat should occur if your attack roll supercedes the enemy's AC by a certain number of points (I'd say 10).

So, for every 10 points above the enemy's AC you inflict the weapon's damage one additional time.

Feats like "Improved Crit" could simply lower this threshold by 2 points or something like that.

Bottom line of this rule, the bigger the difference between two combatants, the bigger the chance of critical hits (by the better combatant of course).

I recently GMed for a character than had something like 90+ HP while raging at 6th level, but only had an AC of 14. His average attack roll was 24, easy. Your system could be duplicated in effect, if not spirit, by just cutting his HP in half.


I do think that it should be 'easier' to critically hit as you go up in level, but the way we have always handled the situation is pretty simple:

You roll your original crit-range ... which gives you a "chance" to critically hit. Afterwards, you have to roll a second time and simply "hit". Since characters tend to hit more easily at higher levels, the chances that a possible-crit becomes an actual-crit are higher.


Yeah... but I would very much like to get rid of the confirmation roll.
I never liked that idea since 3.0.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

DracoDruid wrote:

It's simply a fact, that the d20 critical mechanic is pretty fuzzy.

IMO, the chances for critical hits (with any weapon!) should increase with the skill of the combatant and not on the weapon used.

Basically, a critical threat should occur if your attack roll supercedes the enemy's AC by a certain number of points (I'd say 10).

So, for every 10 points above the enemy's AC you inflict the weapon's damage one additional time.

Feats like "Improved Crit" could simply lower this threshold by 2 points or something like that.

I don't like it; that would give high BAB classes a boost they really don't need and would eventually mean that every hit you made against a less powerful opponent would be a critical hit. If you didn't outright kill the creature, you would probably snag him with some kind of critical feat (at higher levels).

On top of all that, you would need to rewrite a dozen different class abilities and feats (destructive domain, weapon mastery, quarry, etc.) and you'd have to drop the critical modifiers from all the weapons down to X2. Also, would touch attacks work the same? Wouldn't that be a pretty big advantage to spells like shocking touch at low levels and make spells like disintegrate even more devastating (keep in mind true strike works with those).

I've always viewed critical hits as "lucky shots", which mechanically they are. Feats and abilities like Power Attack, Deadly Aim, sneak attack, and weapon training represent a character's superior training with a weapon or combat style. Improved Critical is the feat that represents the "skill of the combatant" at delivering criticals; you are a bit more deadly (or lucky) with your weapon of choice. What's more, the abilities that let you auto confirm further demonstrate your combat prowess.

What do you find fuzzy about the d20 critical mechanic? I think the confirmation roll is pretty straight forward; do you just not like it?

DracoDruid wrote:
Bottom line of this rule, the bigger the difference between two combatants, the bigger the chance of critical hits (by the better combatant of course).

But AC isn't a matter of martial prowess; CMD, sure, but not AC. Your suggestion gives an unnecessary boost to killing low AC targets, which are already incredibly easy to kill because they are so easy to hit.


DracoDruid wrote:


It's simply a fact, that the d20 critical mechanic is pretty fuzzy.

It is, although the PF system is full of inherited 'fuzzy' for the sake of simplicity - AC is a good example. I've seen some bad critical hit house rules, but I think a scaled system might work; after all, conceptually you could say that a critical hit is far more likely against a person who isn't as well defended.

I've come around to liking the 'confirmation roll' system more than I used to, in part because I've ended up using it in board game mechanics for the same reasons since its a fairly elegant counter-balance to a statistical slant you might not want... makes me wonder about using a 'confirm' roll after using scaled attack-roll to 'threaten'.

As far as the original critical threat system goes, I've thought that it might be more balanced to have critical threat 'cap' at 5 points (after improved critical/keen). Personally I don't think a five-point threat would feel weak to me vs four point threat and one size larger die.


Yeah... I guess my system would only work when AC would also skill with experience - which I would also prefer - but I'm not changing the whole mechanic here so...

The thing is, when critical hits represent "lucky shots" it makes NO sense that certain weapons are "luckier" than others.

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Maybe something like:

BAB 0+ : "Crit" on nat 20, do single FULL damage
BAB 6+ : "Crit" on 19 for single FULL , 20 for double FULL damage
BAB 11+ : 18 (single full), 19 (double full), 20 (triple full)
BAB 16+ : 17 (1x full), 18 (2x full), 19 (3x full), 20 (4x full)

And no confirmation roll.


i don't have d20's have anything to do with crits for my game, every hit has a chance to be a "lucky shot" as it was put earlier, and the system is rather simple that we use.

when you score a hit you roll a percentile, you have a base chance of 5+level to score a critical hit (a level 13 with no crit feats would have a 18% chance to crit as an example where a level 20 would have a 25% chance) improved crit adds 5% keen adds 5% (the two still do not stack), feats and class features that add to your crit confirmation roll add a percentage equal to the bonus they give, and the samurai class feature that gives them an auto criot they just have to confirm instead adds 50% for that one attack. fighters at level 20 have their class feature that auto confirms crits replaced with this.

Weapon Mastery (Ex): At 20th level, a fighter chooses one weapon, such as the longsword, greataxe, or longbow. Any attacks made with that weapon that hit have their crit percentage chance rolled twice, and they take the better roll, and have their damage multiplier increased by 1 (×2 becomes ×3, for example). In addition, he cannot be disarmed while wielding a weapon of this type.

hope this system helps a bit for what you were looking for?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
mem0ri wrote:

I do think that it should be 'easier' to critically hit as you go up in level, but the way we have always handled the situation is pretty simple:

You roll your original crit-range ... which gives you a "chance" to critically hit. Afterwards, you have to roll a second time and simply "hit". Since characters tend to hit more easily at higher levels, the chances that a possible-crit becomes an actual-crit are higher.

Isn't that how it is written in the rulebook?

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

DracoDruid wrote:
The thing is, when critical hits represent "lucky shots" it makes NO sense that certain weapons are "luckier" than others.

True. Pathfinder seems to be straddling skill vs. luck with their critical mechanics, but honestly anything that requires a roll is based on luck anyway; that's just the nature of the game.

The main problem I see with most of these suggestions is that if you take the critical threat range and damage multiplier away from weapons, there really isn't any way to differentiate the most commonly used weapons, aside from damage type. Battle axes, heavy maces, longswords, morningstars, and warhammers all do the exact same thing, and three of those are martial weapons.


Quote:
The main problem I see with most of these suggestions is that if you take the critical threat range and damage multiplier away from weapons, there really isn't any way to differentiate the most commonly used weapons, aside from damage type. Battle axes, heavy maces, longswords, morningstars, and warhammers all do the exact same thing, and three of those are martial weapons.

so your main problem is that a RPG only has role play differences between weapons with changes to the crit system? yeah i can see not wanting any rp in my rpg's...

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

soulofwolf wrote:
so your main problem is that a RPG only has role play differences between weapons with changes to the crit system? yeah i can see not wanting any rp in my rpg's...

I'm not sure what you mean. What I'm saying is that if you strip the weapons of their critical mechanics, but leave other effects like damage types, reach, disarm, trip, etc., then the weapons that do have a mechanical advantage are going to be more appealing than those that do not. For instance, a flail does the same damage as a warhammer but also has the disarm and trip special features; a morningstar does the same damage as well but deals both bludgeoning and piercing damage and is only a simple weapon. These are somewhat minor issues, but I think they are worth keeping in mind and these critical suggestions don't seem to take this into account.

Maybe you could drop all special weapon features and adjust damage types and dice, but that would mean a lot of weapon rewriting and in some instances not make much sense, like a glaive without reach.


ok i see what you mean, sorry your first response didn't mention weapon special qualities or i missed it entirely. You can easily drop the +level % from my crit system and instead have weapon crit percentages equal to 5% per crit range so a 20 is 5% a 19-20 is 10% a 15-20 is 30%. that keeps the weapons meaning something to you. For myself my players never seem to care as much about weapon special qualities and instead base 99% of their decisions on crit range so i'd rather leave it out entirely.


soulofwolf wrote:
For myself my players never seem to care as much about weapon special qualities and instead base 99% of their decisions on crit range so i'd rather leave it out entirely.

I think the issue with crit range is that it appears to make such a huge difference compared to other factors like special properties or size of die; people like other things about a weapon, but in the end, one weapon scoring 50% more critical hits than another is pretty convincing.

One across-the-board change that might be relatively simple would be to change three-point threat weapons into two-point threat with a small bonus to confirmation rolls. Statistically, instead of far more threats being scored a few more confirmations succeed, keeping the basic concept intact but making it more subtle.


Well, as of the different weapons, as I posted in the beginning, I am ALSO tinkering on Generic Weapon Rules.

I would be happy I many of you help me with those.


DracoDruid wrote:

BAB 0+ : "Crit" on nat 20, do single FULL damage
BAB 6+ : "Crit" on 19 for single FULL , 20 for double FULL damage
BAB 11+ : 18 (single full), 19 (double full), 20 (triple full)
BAB 16+ : 17 (1x full), 18 (2x full), 19 (3x full), 20 (4x full)

And (maybe) no confirmation roll.

Okay, it's a little sad that I have to quote myself, but no one bothered to comment on my suggestion (directly), so I would like to propose it again.

Core idea of this rule:
Take critical chances away from the weapons and put it in the hands of the characters (where it belongs).

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People who are just happy with the rules as they are may simply ignore this post (and please do so!).

Please restrict your posts to constructive critics. Tell me if this would produce any problems etc.


My thoughts:

Some weapons have greater threat ranges to represent the way the weapons function - the rapier is a good example: it's a light, fine blade used primarily for thrusting. A hit from a rapier could do very little damage (hence the 1d6 base damage) but with a weapon like a rapier, there is a great deal of penetration and accuracy, so you have a good chance of hitting something vital (hence the large threat range to double the damage).

Now at the moment greater skill does get you more critical hits, through two mechanisms: the chances of confirming a hit increase as level increases because you hit better. If you aren't able to confirm because the opponent has a high AC, well, that's the same as your own suggested (original) system. Also, as you get more skill (more BAB) the Improved Critical feat becomes available.

If you introduced your system of having the critical depend entirely on the user, not the weapon, you will have to change the damage listings for many weapons to represent what they can do, or else you will nerf many currently good ones.

Second point, the critical hits you churn out in your system are off the scale. Considering that in another thread we had a build for a 13th level barbarian dishing 2d6+40 damage on a single hit without even trying hard, a natural 20 from your system would deal 156 damage in one strike, a 19 would dish 104 (his otherwise theoretical maximum on a critical hit). An 18 would deal 52 damage. As opposed to a 19-20 giving him 80+4d6 (average 94) on a confirmation roll.

Way too much IMHO.

It's just too much of a boost on what a full BAB character can already pull off.


The core idea seems a little ambiguous, and the suggested implementation would have a major impact on class and encounter balance (as Dabbler points out).

First the current system assumes that criticals will only happen some fraction of the critical threat range, so always confirming is already really strong particularly against high AC targets... I mean this is stronger than a 19th level class feature of the Lore Warden. This has a consequence of making all the critical feats much better.

Second, you will be doing a lot more damage than is currently balanced in the system. I think easiest solution will be to universally increase HP, depending on how your rule is implemented with monsters.

Third, you will have to determine how your rule interacts with the many class features, feats, spells, etc that mess with the chance to confirm critical. You will likely need to rebalance a lot of those classes since currently messing with critical confirmation is pretty strong.

*****
I think an easier implementation is to use the system that is already in place but tie critical threat/multiplier to some non-weapon stat. If you do it that way then you just have to make sure that everyone who cares about criticals can get them in a reasonable range. Of course you will still need to rebalance weapons if you don't want people to stop selecting them (looking at Falchion)...

What do you mean by putting critical chances in the hands of the character? The character can already pick their critical chances by making appropriate weapon choices. Do you want to tie the critical mechanic to class progression (it seems that way since you are using BAB)?

You could also tie this mechanic more closely to feats, or skills, or attributes all of which are class independent (sort of). You could tie critical threat to DEX and critical multiplier to STR, for instance.


If what you want is to make criticals more available to low threat-range weapons, then a way to do it would be to have Improved Critical and Keen add a flat bonus onto the threat range rather than increase the weapon threat range. For example, keen could increase the threat range of an edged or piercing weapon by two, and Improved Critical could increase the threat range of a weapon by one, by two if you reduce the threat multiplier, and the two could stack.


Thanks for the input, but sometimes I don't get it:

Everyone is claiming that spellcasters are WAY OP in higher levels but likewise, you say that giving full BAB classes improved crits is WAY too much.
Wouldn't this be NECESSARY regarding too powerful casters?

And 2d6+40 in it self already sounds like horrible ROLLplaying min-maxing munchkin powergaming.
(But I might be wrong since I don't know this build - so no offense).

Second. Full weapon die damage is overpowered? Everyone claims that the weapon dice are the LEAST effect on damage (at least in higher levels).
And NOW it's a problem?

I understand that putting away the Confirm Roll produces much more "post-op problems". I never liked the idea since it was always a downer to let the second roll torpedo the joy of rolling a 20 and it was one additional roll to make that makes combat even slower.
But I am okay with keeping it for simplicity's sake.

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My point is:
With the crit ranges fixed to the weapons, choice of weapon is no longer a ROLEplaying choice but a ROLLplaying choice, which SUCKS.
"What? You are using a *weapon A*? But a *weapon XYZ* is so much better!"

I've heard it, I've heard people telling me they heard it, I hate it.

It's roleplaying. We don't need two pages of weapon lists.
It's unnecessary resources and doesn't make the game anymore interesting.
If you want your character to use a specific weapon, than do so because you think it's cool or it fits the concept, but not because it has the better stats!
My POV.

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I kinda like the idea with using STR/DEX instead of BAB for critical multiplier/range.
Question is how to balance it?
Besides, creatures with non-human STR/DEX stats would suddenly have HUGE range/multiplier.

So it is probably best to use something that stays (roughly) the same range for any character/creature AND is combat related.

BAB is the first thing that comes to mind and is very fitting with the ground idea that a skilled combatant is also more likely to land a critical hit.

Okay. My first (or rather second) idea wasn't perfect but I think the main concept is solid. So third try:

BAB 0+ - 20 Full normal damage
BAB 6+ - 20 (x2), 19 (Full x1)
BAB 11+ - 20 (x3), 19 (x2), 18 (Full x1)
BAB 16+ - 20 (x4), 19 (x3), 18 (x2), 17 (Full x1)

All rolls need confirmation rolls as normal.

Only thing to address are those few feats/abilities/spells that change the crite range.


DracoDruid wrote:

Thanks for the input, but sometimes I don't get it:

Everyone is claiming that spellcasters are WAY OP in higher levels but likewise, you say that giving full BAB classes improved crits is WAY too much.
Wouldn't this be NECESSARY regarding too powerful casters?

Casters are not powerful because they dish out damage, casters are powerful because they can do things OTHER than dishing out damage. If you want to level the playing field between casters and combat, find things that combat characters can do other than hitting and dishing damage, most of them are already more than good enough at it by half.

DracoDruid wrote:

And 2d6+40 in it self already sounds like horrible ROLLplaying min-maxing munchkin powergaming.

(But I might be wrong since I don't know this build - so no offense).

None taken, the player wasn't even trying to min-max - it was a Power Attack with Furious Focus from a high strength build with a few other feats and rage powers chucked in, basically very simple and easy. If he'd really meant business, he'd have been using a falchion rather than a greatsword and wouldn't be doing a 'mere' +40 bonus.

The build was actually designed to have decent damage and excellent all-round saves too, it wasn't maxed out for damage.

DracoDruid wrote:

Second. Full weapon die damage is overpowered? Everyone claims that the weapon dice are the LEAST effect on damage (at least in higher levels).

And NOW it's a problem?

It's not usually a problem because it is unreliable and when you roll multiple dice you get closer to an average over time. 2d6 gives you a bell-curve probability centred on 7. So you are give +5 damage in max damage at lower levels, where 5 is quite a bit. At higher levels the average of double that is average of 4d6 which is 14, and the bell curve makes the far ends even less likely, and for your system it's 24. Triple 2d6 is 6d6, average 21, in your system it delivers 36.

You see my point here is that you are taking something that wasn't a problem and stacking it up to make a problem. You are making the weapon that just deals the biggest damage dice the best choice regardless of any other factor.

DracoDruid wrote:

I understand that putting away the Confirm Roll produces much more "post-op problems". I never liked the idea since it was always a downer to let the second roll torpedo the joy of rolling a 20 and it was one additional roll to make that makes combat even slower.

But I am okay with keeping it for simplicity's sake.

On the other hand the confirmation roll allows us to use threat ranges to make weapons more interesting and (insofar as it can be done) more realistic.

DracoDruid wrote:

My point is:

With the crit ranges fixed to the weapons, choice of weapon is no longer a ROLEplaying choice but a ROLLplaying choice, which SUCKS.
"What? You are using a *weapon A*? But a *weapon XYZ* is so much better!"

Some weapons ARE better than others. That's why swords evolved from sharpened chunks of steel to rapiers, scimitars, gin and katanas over the ages: because the more sophisticated designs were better. It's also why some weapons have other features, like being able to have different damage types, or being designed to trip or disarm foes. Do you want to remove all those features too, and have all weapons deliver exactly the same damage, have exactly the same reach?

It's not a ROLLplaying choice any more than it's a ROLEplaying choice. If a player doesn't read how the system works before he chooses his weapon, he could sell himself short just as a warrior picking a poor weapon has sold himself short. Like it or not, system mastery is part of the game, and picking a good weapon for the style of combat you desire is part of being a warrior.

If you want to be a fencer, you don't pick a greatsword. If you want brute force, a greatsword or greataxe is best. If you want strong offence and defence, a weapon and shield works best.

DracoDruid wrote:
I've heard it, I've heard people telling me they heard it, I hate it.

You are entitled to like it or not - myself, I don't have a problem with it, and I haven't heard anyone who does. If you have selected the weapon that you think will work best for the fighting style you choose then what's the problem?

DracoDruid wrote:

It's roleplaying. We don't need two pages of weapon lists.

It's unnecessary resources and doesn't make the game anymore interesting.

For you, that is. Others disagree - D&D has always had huge weapon lists since AD&D was published, and I find some of them too restrictive for my liking without enough choices.

Fact is, lots of weapons see use both in the game and historically, and some have some dandy advantages and some have disadvantages. They encourage players to use imaginative tactic beyond "I hit it hard" if they choose to. Take a tripping reach weapon to dominate the area around yourself; take a light or finesse weapon for a dex-based duelist; take a massive greatsword for a barbarian; an axe for a dwarf; whatever the hell you like for whatever style you like.

As I said, the reason casters are powerful is because they have options. Different weapons are one way combat classes get options too. Not as many, but they get them, and you want to take them away in the name of doing something the system already does.

DracoDruid wrote:

If you want your character to use a specific weapon, than do so because you think it's cool or it fits the concept, but not because it has the better stats!

My POV.

But that's just the point, you should use the tool appropriate to the job. It's what you do in everything - you don't take a soldering iron where you might need a screwdriver.

You are thinking far too much in terms of dealing just damage with a big strength bonus, which frankly is boring. Why not look at what else you can do instead?

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