Critical Hits!


Prerelease Discussion


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Regardless of how critical hits are actually achieved, I for one am hoping that they aren't limited to simply increasing the damage dealt.

It would be great if critical hits had:
- some non-damage effects (conditions like stunned come to mind)
- some location-specific effects (disabling a limb, or causing horrible internal injuries that can't be addressed by a simple cure spell)
- more semi-permanent effects (scars and maiming come to mind)

Now I know that some people will object that's it's just another drawback for martials, because they are the ones who go into combat the most. But it would go a long way towards making lost hit points into something non-trivial in nature. There's something about a guy with 50 hit points who has suffered 48 points of damage being just as good a fighter as his buddy who is fresh that just rubs me the wrong way. And while I'm not advocating automatically gimping a fighter who has suffered damage, it would be very cool if variable and interesting critical hit effects were baked into the game design of PF2.0 from the outset, and not just an optional rule, like the critical hit deck currently is.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I will second this, I have played with both Crit and Fumble charts since 1st Edition AD&D. They add interest to an otherwise boring x2 damage scenario. Would love to see this in the core.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Will it not be crit on a Nat 20 (with confirmation) anymore? Is that changing? Do you think they're do away with confirmations?


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KingGramJohnson wrote:
Will it not be crit on a Nat 20 (with confirmation) anymore? Is that changing? Do you think they're do away with confirmations?

Listening to the podcast, it appears you critical hit when you exceed the the AC by 10. There may be other ways to crit other than that, don't remember hearing about a natural 20 in the podcast.


What I'd like to be in the game, regarding critical hits, is in some form keeping the differentation between the weapons. That was something in the 3e engine I always liked and missed from D&D 5e very much. It just makes sense.


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So far, it appears that you get a critical hit by exceeding your to-hit target number by ten. No indications of special critical hit results have been given.

Obviously, some game systems have gone too far in detailing critical hit damage. IIRC, the old ICE RPG had dozens of pages of gory critical hit results which were basically so many new and horrible ways for a character to die. Without going to such extremes as that, one can easily imagine a critical hit system with some level of localisation with specific effects.

Having ears or hands lopped off, or eyes gouged out ought not to happen very often, but it ought to be a potential hazard of fighting with pointed sticks in your hands.

Liberty's Edge

Toblakai wrote:
KingGramJohnson wrote:
Will it not be crit on a Nat 20 (with confirmation) anymore? Is that changing? Do you think they're do away with confirmations?
Listening to the podcast, it appears you critical hit when you exceed the the AC by 10. There may be other ways to crit other than that, don't remember hearing about a natural 20 in the podcast.

There was one time somebody rolled a natural 20 and scored a critical, but it was unclear if that was because criticals happen on a natural 20, or if it was just because he rolled high enough with a 20 + modifier to crit. This was also a critical on a skill, not an attack, which for a knowledge check was said to grant an additional piece of information, so it looks like there will be critical successes (and failures) on skills and other things as well as attack rolls.


That actually sounds interesting. Maybe we also get better scaling ACs along with that so you aren't going to be autocritted by everything at high levels, because your AC lags behind your attack bonus so much.

Liberty's Edge

Well, if it's anything like what they did with Starfinder, PC's will have higher defenses and lower offensive output (compared to enemy design), specifically to make it harder to TPK a party by, for example, dominating the one-hit-kill Barbarian. So my guess is that they'll definitely be actively trying to fix the issue with defense scaling, especially with the new critical system making that even more of a necessity.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like the idea of critical success/failure on skills. It always bothered me that you could roll a Nat 1, but because you have a +30 in stealth, you still remain unnoticed.


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Something I liked about Starfinder's weapon descriptions is the expanded area for critical effects, such as "bleeding", "knockdown", "set on fire" etc. Critical hits should do something special and interesting, not just hurt more.

Liberty's Edge

KingGramJohnson wrote:
I like the idea of critical success/failure on skills. It always bothered me that you could roll a Nat 1, but because you have a +30 in stealth, you still remain unnoticed.

That would still likely be a thing in this edition, though, since it looks like it's DC +10 for critical successes and DC -10 for critical failures, not natural 1 or 20. It could be both, but it's not entirely clear yet.

That said, if you get your Stealth bonus to +30, I think you deserve to be practically invisible. Dedication and focus should be rewarded.


KingGramJohnson wrote:
I like the idea of critical success/failure on skills. It always bothered me that you could roll a Nat 1, but because you have a +30 in stealth, you still remain unnoticed.

It's a fun idea, but I have a little bit of concern about it. A blanket 5% chance to fail at any activity, independent of skill level and training, does not map well with how skills function in the real world.

Depending on how the rules from PF1 port over with respect to 'taking 10,' and depending on any new rules, this may be a non-issue. It's definitely something I will personally keep an eye on though.


The implementation challenge on this is huge, I think. PF has every conceivable type of monster, and to put together a "crit table" describing the results of the crit but making those relevant to each and every type of monster is a real challenge.

You don't want a situation where the crit table says "normal damage and the enemy is stunned for one round" but since you're fighting an undead creature which is immune to stun, you end up "wasting" the crit and just doing normal damage with no special effect. That's a letdown, and "letdown" and "nat 20" should not exist in the same sentence. Maybe this could be mitigated by saying "if the effect is not relevant, you do regular crit damage instead". Or go further and give the player the option of whether they want to take the special effect or the extra damage.

Honestly though, I think this is better left in the realm of house rules. It just sounds like it would take too much design time to develop effectively, and I'd rather the dev team spend that time elsewhere.

KingGramJohnson wrote:
I like the idea of critical success/failure on skills. It always bothered me that you could roll a Nat 1, but because you have a +30 in stealth, you still remain unnoticed.

Well AFAIK, in 2E that nat 1 might actually be a critical success if your 31 Stealth roll exceeds the enemy's Perception DC by 10.


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Critical failure rules could factor into ensuring that Agile weapons are not a no-brainer option. You may have reduced penalties for successive attacks on a turn, but the lower damage and increased risk of a fumble might make the single heavy weapon attack remain an attractive alternative.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cheburn wrote:
KingGramJohnson wrote:
I like the idea of critical success/failure on skills. It always bothered me that you could roll a Nat 1, but because you have a +30 in stealth, you still remain unnoticed.

It's a fun idea, but I have a little bit of concern about it. A blanket 5% chance to fail at any activity, independent of skill level and training, does not map well with how skills function in the real world.

Depending on how the rules from PF1 port over with respect to 'taking 10,' and depending on any new rules, this may be a non-issue. It's definitely something I will personally keep an eye on though.

Yes, that's actually why I never implemented it as a house rule, because of the fact that it would be a 5% miss chance all the time. But I've always felt there should be some kind of a setback for a nat 1, maybe not a complete fail, but something. If that makes any sense.


I loathe the crit hit deck. In concept riders are cool for a critical, but that deck rarely worked in the PCs favor. With some work maybe its a system that I could get behind. Especially, if riders are determined by weapon type.

I am sorely going to miss crit ranges :(


the guy who fumbled the acrobatics test to climb down the muddy slope was given a Hindered condition that reduced his move by 5. That may have been a specific case for that event or it may be that conditions can be gained from crits and fumbles


The biggest problem with special critical hit effects has always been that they hurt PCs waaaaay more than they hurt monsters. The PCs are not especially likely to crit against any given monster, but in facing thousands of monsters over their careers, every PC will get critted dozens or hundreds of times.

So, I vote no - with the sole exception of more general / less maiming critical riders like we see in Starfinder for certain weapons, such as Burn from a weapon that deals fire damage.


As to the issue of a monster with 1 HP fighting as effectively as one at full HP, Unchained already had a solution for this. The simple version was that when a creature or character was at 50% hp or less ("Bloodied" in 4E terminology), they took a -2 penalty to all rolls. I'd be totally okay with that returning.

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