Can I not crit?


Rules Questions

Grand Lodge

This weekend I was GM'ing a session for some friends, and they were trying to capture an NPC dressed up as a guard that attacked them (good for them not just attacking back). Anyways, the paladin being the only person that thought of this and him not liking to metagame didn't say anything before his turn. There were two guards and the barbarian crit and splatted the first one right out of the box. The paladin tries to deal nonlethal damage and rolls a 20 and then confirms the crit even with the nonlethal penalty.

These were all first level PCs and NPCs, both martials had greatswords and obviously a crit with a greatsword from a str based character at lvl 1 is pretty lethal. Luckily, he did just enough nonlethal damage that it didn't outright kill him, but was there any way he could've just said "I'll just take a normal hit and not crit?" RAW I don't see it. Obviously it's up to me in this situation, but is there any way RAW to just forego a crit and deal normal damage (outside of feats/class features/weapon enchants that allow you to do other stuff in lieu of crits)?


I dont believe so. I "think" u can chose not to roll to confirm crit and just take the automatic hit but i believe once u roll to confirm its outta the players hands and now in the dice gods hands.
Slippery slope because it can be seen to look like "metagaming" or better yet the player taking away the power and control of the dice has over ur character and give it to a player. Almost akin to giving the player the power to decide if he hits or not away from the dice. I know thats a drastic example but its more alone the lines of the paladin only wanted to subdue by knotching them out wiyh the greatsword BUT the dicegods decreed that uncortuantly u hit the target in a vital area to hard or harder than u expected or wanted to.
again i dont even know if u can chose to roll or not to confirm.
hope this makes sense.


I didn't think subdual damage could kill anyone, so why would it be a problem?

Grand Lodge

Redneckdevil wrote:
I "think" u can chose not to roll to confirm crit and just take the automatic hit

I know you can intentionally fail a saving throw but I haven't seen anything about intentionally failing an attack.

Lifat wrote:
I didn't think subdual damage could kill anyone, so why would it be a problem?

Once total nonlethal damage reaches the creature's max HP, the rest converts to lethal damage.

Combat - Nonlethal Damage wrote:
If a creature's nonlethal damage is equal to his total maximum hit points (not his current hit points), all further nonlethal damage is treated as lethal damage.


Lifat wrote:
I didn't think subdual damage could kill anyone, so why would it be a problem?

once subdual damage equals your max hp any further subdual damage becomes lethal.

I can't find anything that explicitly allow you to forego the crit. My initial thought was 'why not allow it anyway?' followed by a complex chain of thought involving 'eggshell skull' law, 1-punch manslaughter, random chance, and my old sensei going on incessantly (probably not really, but it felt like it - that and 'pain is weakness leaving the body'! grrr!) about how there was no sure way to safely knock someone out.


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Tragic accident. It happens. Next time, use fisticuffs instead of a greatsword.

Scarab Sages

It's a difficult question.

On the one hand, you can intentional fail any saving throw if you want (that's essentially what you are doing anytime you are getting healed) and can 'take one' on any skill check, but on the other hand . . . you are fighting as hard as you can. A hardened seasoned fighter might go for the killshot when he sees an opening, kind of on muscle memory.

I've had this happen to my by the way. My scythe-weilding fighter crit on a lower-level guard and killed him with his power-attack, x4 crit subdual damage roll. I did double his hp (+con score) in subdual damage and that's all she wrote.

Ooops.


RAW, you cannot. A critical is a critical, even if you meant it to be or not. There is no ex post facto statement in the rules that allows you to forgo a critical confirmation/threat, nor are there any abilities that allow you to do so as far as I know (that is, on the giving end; there are several ways on the receiving end). RAI, I hardly doubt that it makes sense in a realistic simulation, given that the force you're making propelling said attack won't always equate to being the same when it comes to being in combat with any individual creature, even if they are the same creature, making the same moves; unless you're a supercomputer (and even that is iffy), you won't have the same results every time.

Honestly, the Dice God just showed up and gave your NPCs a scare. The only time I get that sort of luck (I got 3 critical confirmations in a row, 6 total criticals in a fight) on a boss fight where I only deal 25% of my total damage. Not much your Paladin could do other than be forced to roll with it because that's life, though he will probably want to pray and maybe find a means to atone for such a destructive outburst.


Accidents happen.

I think it's reasonable to houserule that you can decrease your strength bonus on attacks. So, if you normally do 2d6+6, you could declare before attacking that you are attacking for 2d6+2 or just 2d6. Pulling your punches, basically.

But, if you are swinging full-strength, I don't think it is realistic to negate a crit. There's a chance you will hit a critical part of their body, whether you're trying to or not.

By RAW, I don't think there's anything at all you can do. You have to deal full Str damage, and have to crit if you confirm.


Accidents do happen. Lesson, don't use a great sword to subdue someone. It's not what they are designed for.

Depending on needs of the situation, punching or grappling would more appropriate. If they much use a great sword, displaying of personal prowess better serve their needs. Trip or disarm the opponent and then demand their surrender.


If you can intend to hit someone and miss, I think it reasonable you can intend to NOT crit someone and DO crit them. As Blahpers said... it's an accident.


While the crit and confirm are two attack rolls, they are still one attack so in game time they likely happen at the same time, just like attacks and damage are taking place simultaneously. You can't hit someone and then decide to lessen the blow. That decision has to be made before you hit them.

edit: changed "why" to "while"

edit: due to my reading comprehension failing. :)


wraithstrike wrote:

While the crit and confirm are two attack rolls, they are still one attack so in game time they likely happen at the same time, just like attacks and damage are taking place simultaneously. You can't hit someone and then decide to lessen the blow. That decision has to be made before you hit them.

edit: changed "why" to "while"

edit: due to my reading comprehension failing. :)

Can you make that decision before you hit? Before you roll, can you say "I'm not going to add my strength mod to this" or "If it rolls a crit, I won't confirm/do crit damage"?

The only method I know of for "pulling your punch" is to do non-lethal damage. But it certainly seems like a trainer warrior would be able to lessen the force of the blow in general, regardless of whether the hit does lethal damage.

In a home game, I'd allow it as an option before you roll, and I'm not sure that I would even apply any penalty on the attack. But I'm not aware of any actual rules for this that would make it legal in PFS.


Gwen Smith wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:

While the crit and confirm are two attack rolls, they are still one attack so in game time they likely happen at the same time, just like attacks and damage are taking place simultaneously. You can't hit someone and then decide to lessen the blow. That decision has to be made before you hit them.

edit: changed "why" to "while"

edit: due to my reading comprehension failing. :)

Can you make that decision before you hit? Before you roll, can you say "I'm not going to add my strength mod to this" or "If it rolls a crit, I won't confirm/do crit damage"?

The only method I know of for "pulling your punch" is to do non-lethal damage. But it certainly seems like a trainer warrior would be able to lessen the force of the blow in general, regardless of whether the hit does lethal damage.

In a home game, I'd allow it as an option before you roll, and I'm not sure that I would even apply any penalty on the attack. But I'm not aware of any actual rules for this that would make it legal in PFS.

By the rules it is nonlethal damage or nothing.

In a home game I could see someone using just enough strength to swing the weapon=no strength modifier.
However critting is a metagame concept. The character can not choose to not confirm because it is really not a 2nd attack. It is simultaneous with the attack landing, and it could be a result of you trying not to crit and misjudging where the person would be so they duck and you end up stabbing then in a vital area by accident.

As a real life example=Sometimes professional fighters will knock out a sparring partner by accident. Maybe they thought the partner knew a head kick was coming but the partner blocks low instead, or maybe the person stepped into a punch.

If you are playing by the rules it is best to use non-lethal damage that way that accident crit won't kill them.


As a house rule, I'd allow attacking as if your Strength were lower than it is, with the commensurate loss of to-hit, damage, and feat qualifications for that attack. There's no RAW way to do this, though, short of casting bestow curse on yourself or something.


I don't think it's metagaming to not wait your turn before saying anything. Can't all your characters just start yelling at each other? I thought metagaming was when you knew something your character didn't and you used that knowledge. Am I wrong?


daimaru wrote:
I don't think it's metagaming to not wait your turn before saying anything. Can't all your characters just start yelling at each other? I thought metagaming was when you knew something your character didn't and you used that knowledge. Am I wrong?

You saying something as a character is not the same as you(in real life) not declaring an action. The metagame knowledge is that a "crit" does not exist in the game world, and really there is no rules way to not crit if you attack, but a lot of that was covered in previous posts.


claudekennilol wrote:

This weekend I was GM'ing a session for some friends, and they were trying to capture an NPC dressed up as a guard that attacked them (good for them not just attacking back). Anyways, the paladin being the only person that thought of this and him not liking to metagame didn't say anything before his turn. There were two guards and the barbarian crit and splatted the first one right out of the box. The paladin tries to deal nonlethal damage and rolls a 20 and then confirms the crit even with the nonlethal penalty.

These were all first level PCs and NPCs, both martials had greatswords and obviously a crit with a greatsword from a str based character at lvl 1 is pretty lethal. Luckily, he did just enough nonlethal damage that it didn't outright kill him, but was there any way he could've just said "I'll just take a normal hit and not crit?" RAW I don't see it. Obviously it's up to me in this situation, but is there any way RAW to just forego a crit and deal normal damage (outside of feats/class features/weapon enchants that allow you to do other stuff in lieu of crits)?

I suppose you could technically use Butterfly's Sting to pass the crit on to the next ally that hits, and then don't let anyone hit the guy before your next turn when the ability expires. Or make sure the next ally to hit is the 8 STR Halfling sorcerer with his dagger at 1d3-1...


wraithstrike wrote:
daimaru wrote:
I don't think it's metagaming to not wait your turn before saying anything. Can't all your characters just start yelling at each other? I thought metagaming was when you knew something your character didn't and you used that knowledge. Am I wrong?
You saying something as a character is not the same as you(in real life) not declaring an action. The metagame knowledge is that a "crit" does not exist in the game world, and really there is no rules way to not crit if you attack, but a lot of that was covered in previous posts.

The way I read the original post was that the paladin was the only one who thought of taking prisoners and he could have screamed, "Don't kill them, we need prisoners!" I agree that he couldn't advise people to not take a crit if that's what Claude meant.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I always found it funny when it happens. How many times, have I seen the fighter in my party: "I'm going to subdue him with my Warhammer! I power attack!"

Crit...and the enemy is dead.

Yeah seriously if you want to subdue someone with non lethal damage, you might as well use the gauntlets from your full plate armor to punch them to unconsciousness.


Hitting people with a sword is not safe. Even hitting people with the flat of the blade (non-lethal damage) can potentially crack their skull, even if you don't intend to.

The only way to avoid any possible of killing them is to subdue them without weapons (talk them down, grapple them and tie them up, etc).

A non-lethal crit that killed him is a "whoops" moment. You didn't mean to kill him, but now he's dead! What do you do with the body?


daimaru wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
daimaru wrote:
I don't think it's metagaming to not wait your turn before saying anything. Can't all your characters just start yelling at each other? I thought metagaming was when you knew something your character didn't and you used that knowledge. Am I wrong?
You saying something as a character is not the same as you(in real life) not declaring an action. The metagame knowledge is that a "crit" does not exist in the game world, and really there is no rules way to not crit if you attack, but a lot of that was covered in previous posts.
The way I read the original post was that the paladin was the only one who thought of taking prisoners and he could have screamed, "Don't kill them, we need prisoners!" I agree that he couldn't advise people to not take a crit if that's what Claude meant.

I misunderstood. Yeah I agree yelling for someone to not do something is 100% legit.


I'd say it's up to you as the GM; I'd support the "you can choose to fail the confirmation roll" interpretation since a crit is akin to slicing into a major artery/tendon/etc, and if you saw that you were about to kill someone with a lucky slice you could hold it short (still doing damage, but not crit damage). Sometimes it's nice to screw with the PCs though, they shouldn't be great at everything :).


I'll chime in with my two cents. I wouldn't allow failing the critical. Accidents happen in battle. I would, as others have stated, allow you to not use your strength bonus to damage, and any feats dependent upon strength. You would also give up your strength bonus to hit though. This is, of course, just a house rule. As the GM you're welcome to do as you like.


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Honestly, I like 5e's rule, which is that when you drop an opponent you can choose to not-kill-them and just leave them unconscious. No special roll, you just get to do that. Simpler, no fancy damage types to track, and in practice it's good narrative.


claudekennilol wrote:

This weekend I was GM'ing a session for some friends, and they were trying to capture an NPC dressed up as a guard that attacked them (good for them not just attacking back). Anyways, the paladin being the only person that thought of this and him not liking to metagame didn't say anything before his turn. There were two guards and the barbarian crit and splatted the first one right out of the box. The paladin tries to deal nonlethal damage and rolls a 20 and then confirms the crit even with the nonlethal penalty.

These were all first level PCs and NPCs, both martials had greatswords and obviously a crit with a greatsword from a str based character at lvl 1 is pretty lethal. Luckily, he did just enough nonlethal damage that it didn't outright kill him, but was there any way he could've just said "I'll just take a normal hit and not crit?" RAW I don't see it. Obviously it's up to me in this situation, but is there any way RAW to just forego a crit and deal normal damage (outside of feats/class features/weapon enchants that allow you to do other stuff in lieu of crits)?

If the characters only want to subdue their enemy, they could also just initiate a grapple and choke him out.


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The only way to not crit with a greatsword when you don't want to kill someone, is to not hit them with a greatsword in the first place.

If you hit someone with a greatsword, you're not really trying very hard to subdue them. Not every attack needs to be an alpha-strike with every bonus you've got.


Recently an idiot attacked a pair of tanks with a dagger. My character almost hit him with a falchion but at the last minute grappled. OK, he got a critical hit on my character but he healed and it turned out that alive, and dosed with truth serum, he got us out of the inn surrounded by hordes of zombies by telling us where the secret tunnel was.

The moral being, if you really want him alive and can do it, grapple.


I really, really consider this to be a serious flaw with the nonlethal damage rules.

Grand Lodge

Zhayne wrote:
I really, really consider this to be a serious flaw with the nonlethal damage rules.

That you can accidentally kill someone when trying not to?


Yes. Doesn't fit how things work in cinematic fiction, plus I don't think one should be penalized for being merciful.

Grand Lodge

Zhayne wrote:
Yes. Doesn't fit how things work in cinematic fiction, plus I don't think one should be penalized for being merciful.

That's fair. But strictly RAQ (again without feats/items and probably some class abilities) I don't see a way around it.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Zhayne wrote:
Yes. Doesn't fit how things work in cinematic fiction, plus I don't think one should be penalized for being merciful.

It's actually pretty easy to knock someone unconscious with gauntlets and the likes. This kind of action which kills often come from people using stuffs like a Greataxe, greatsword etc...to subdue someone. That would be like someone nowadays using a bazooka and saying that he is trying to subdue his opponent.

I understand the idea of being merciful and the likes but frankly if you are using a greatsword to do non-lethal damage, you aren't trying hard enough.


To be fair in cinematic fiction that merciful blow is usually dealt with a pommel/gauntlet/Unarmed strike - not a greatsword.


If the party uses aid another on a grapple check they can do that, and the go to pin and tie up. At the very least call out for nonlethal damage if(and before) you attack with a weapon.


Am I missing something here? Is "the way it's done in the movies" RAW or RAI?


Zhayne wrote:
Yes. Doesn't fit how things work in cinematic fiction, plus I don't think one should be penalized for being merciful.

But you're not being punished for being merciful; you're being punished for recklessly trying to be merciful.

Lennie didn't mean to kill Curly's wife. Still did, though.

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