Target System & Critical Threshold

Rules Questions

 4 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

Got a question that came up at my table about the science officer's action, Target System, and how that interacts with damage crossing the enemy's critical threshold (CT).

The next attack made by your starship that hits the enemy ship scores a critical hit on a natural roll of 19 or 20. If that attack deals critical damage, it affects the chosen system. For any further critical damage resulting from the attack, determine which system is affected randomly as normal.

Referring to the line in bold, if the next attack that hits the enemy ship does not roll a 19 or 20, but does cause critical damage because it crosses the enemy's CT, does it affect the chosen system (as per Target System), or is it rolled randomly like a normal critical damage?

I'm arguing for the first interpretation because the bolded line only states that the attack must deal critical damage, but not how it causes the critical damage. Also, if it was meant to the the second interpretation, a clearer phrasing would have been "The next attack made by your starship that hits the enemy ship scores a critical hit on a natural roll of 19 or 20, and if it does, the critical damage affects the chosen system."

In terms of game design, also, if all that benefits from the science officer's action is to increase the chance of crit by 5%, I honestly don't see how that is a worthwhile action to ever take.

Target System does not specify that it requires that the critical damage be achieved in a particular manner. Therefore, it does not matter. There is nothing in the action's description to indicate otherwise, in any reading of the rules mechanically or grammatically. The first sentence merely makes it easier - it is in no way imposing a prerequisite.

Short version, you're right. The first interpretation is correct.

the bolded bit applies specifically to the roll and getting a 19 or 20... because the bit after the bolded part states "For any further critical damage resulting from the attack" this would be from, say, critical threshold "determine which system is affected randomly as normal"

so i think second interp since it doesn't say:

The next attack made by your starship that hits the enemy ship scores a critical hit on a natural roll of 19 or 20. If your attack deals critical damage, it affects the chosen system. For any further critical damage resulting from the attack, determine which system is affected randomly as normal.

but i do agree that it makes it a bit worthless with that interp... unless you're shooting at something that's got 600 hp with a CT of 120 and you're just praying to god that you can knock out a core or drive so you can get away. doubling chance to crit is better than nothing...

I have to say I like the first version, it gives this action a little more impact and allows the player to target specific systems ("Mr. Gorf, Full Maser, target their weapons and engines!")

jcheung wrote:

the bolded bit applies specifically to the roll and getting a 19 or 20... because the bit after the bolded part states "For any further critical damage resulting from the attack" this would be from, say, critical threshold "determine which system is affected randomly as normal"

so i think second interp since it doesn't say:

The next attack made by your starship that hits the enemy ship scores a critical hit on a natural roll of 19 or 20. If your attack deals critical damage, it affects the chosen system. For any further critical damage resulting from the attack, determine which system is affected randomly as normal.

but i do agree that it makes it a bit worthless with that interp... unless you're shooting at something that's got 600 hp with a CT of 120 and you're just praying to god that you can knock out a core or drive so you can get away. doubling chance to crit is better than nothing...

It could mean that any second crit, whether from a 19-20 plus CT, to crossing the CT twice, is rolled randomly. So your first crit from either source is always the targeted system, your second is always random.

FAQ'd.

I read this to mean that a roll of 19-20 by a gunner will cause critical damage (provided it hits the hull) and will target a specific system. But there could be more damage coming from other weapons and if the total damage caused by all weapons exceed a CT level than additional critical damage is rolled randomly.

Remember, all damage is added together for all weapons that hit.

The thing that troubles me is "next attack". Does that mean a single weapon or all weapons? I would think it would mean all weapons as there is only one phase to make an attack.

Thanks for the responses so far. Agree that this probably needs an FAQ clarification.

I realise that I am parsing the rules line by line as if I was reading a computer programme. Hence,
- "The next attack ... that hits" - I take this literally, i.e. only the next attack from whichever weapon, but only one weapon. And only the next one that hits, i.e. this could trigger a few rounds later if the next few attacks misses.
- "If that attack deals critical damage" - "that attack" refers to the previous line's "the next attack ... that hits", i.e. that line parses as "If the next attack that hits deals critical damage..."

The parsing of the lines seems to intentionally make a difference between a critical hit (normally a natural roll of 20, and in this case, a natural roll of 19-20), vs causing critical damage. Thus my conclusion that of the first interpretation.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The Target System action basically has two effects. They are separate from one another.

1) The next attack this round that hits crits on a 19-20.
2) If the next attack this round that hits inflicts a critical effect, the effect is not rolled but is instead applied to the determined system. If it inflicts multiple critical effects, roll the rest of them normally.