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Ideal RPG: The Crit System

   Posted by: Avaril   in RPG

Another idea that I have had for an Ideal RPG is a critical stystem.  Crits should hurt.  Yes, dealing massive amounts of damage does hurt, but in an abstracted HP system, the damage is just eventually healed anyway.  In my opinion, it was always more fun when we played a system where a crit meant something (i.e. Warhammer RPG or Mechwarrior).

Crits should have lasting effects in game, that aren’t easy to fix.  The critical could sever an artery, cost a player an eye or leg, or scar his face.  This may mean lasting repercussions to the character, or at least disadvantage until they could be properly healed (what if clerics couldn’t fix all damage immediately? That may be a topic for another post).

Crits need to happen less often than they do in 4e if they are going to be this debilitating.  With any roll of ‘20′ being an automatic critical, crits happen 5% of the time.  However, for a low-level 3.5 character, he may only hit on two consecutive 20s (for a 0.25% chance).  Crits should happen somewhere between the two extremes.  I would think that always using a 19 or 20 for possible crits, then a confirmation roll would be about the right number of crits per game.  As you can see in the graph below, this would be a flat, even geometric increase as monsters get easier to hit.

How often a critical happens, however, is up for debate, and not the entire point of this post.

Perhaps there could also be a ’severity’ of criticals, with a ‘19′ meaning you are eligible for an less severe (or easily corrected) critical, and a ‘20′ meaning you are eligible for a devastating critical.  This would save us from some sort of superfulous ‘crit severity’ chart, and allow us to immediately roll the critical.  This roll may be a d100, with the first digit determining the body part, and the second determining the actual critical.

This critical system would make the game seem more gritty and real.  Combat is not just a matter of rushing in and droping HP to 0, it’s dangerous, and it could hurt you.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008 at 12:34 pm and is filed under RPG. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 comments so far


The problem with this, as with most crits systems, is that over the course of their careers PCs are going to take a lot more hits than they’ll give. It becomes a matter of when will they get crippled or disfigured, not if, so you and your players should probably figure out what happens then. Is there some source of magical healing enough to fix it? If they have to retire a character do they start over from scratch or bring one in at the party’s level, etc.

November 4th, 2008 at 2:52 pm

The critical hit house rules I use with my gamer group don’t factor in permanent damage to players; they favour the player.

If the HD is the same or less than the hero that rolls a natural 20, its an instant kill. Bye bye monster. If the HD is more than the hero, its maximum damage.

If the natural 20 is rolled by a monster against a hero, its just +1 damage caused.

This heavily skews the critical hit system in the character’s favour, but as natural 20s are always hits using these house rules and the fact (that the above poster points out) that heroes are going to take a lot more criticals than the enemy, I think it balances out. It’s also fun for a player to score an instant kill… or panic when he doesnt because he’s just found out his opponent is more powerful than he is…

As for incorporating permanent injury into games on a critical hit system; I’d do some experimenting first. It needs to be rare enough that players wont cry foul over it, I think.

November 5th, 2008 at 9:51 am

I’ve always preferred the confirm a crit method to a 20 automatically being a crit. You could always add the house rule that a 20 on the confirmation roll results in a permanent injury. That way the player or DM has to roll two 20s in a row, something that is rare but not impossible.

November 5th, 2008 at 2:39 pm

I like this a lot. Heck, we’ve got magical healing.

November 14th, 2008 at 5:24 pm

I agree with Knightfall. However, then we need a chart or something to decide the damage done. Or perhaps the GM could just decide based on the actions in combat but a random chart might also be nice.

So far as game play goes, I understand what Joshua was saying about the heroes taking more damage over time but these kinds of crits will also add a level of threat that will keep the players from becoming complacent in the game too. IMO.

Good thread this one…

November 25th, 2008 at 8:14 am

You know, Wounds and Vitality would kinda lend itself to this. If you went below 0 Wounds, you could have a lasting injury, not just be KO’d.

December 7th, 2008 at 7:41 pm

What I liked was how WHFRP didn’t actually have those as Critical hits as we know them. Those tables were rolled on once you had no hit points left. Your hit points (Wounds) were an abstract representation of your ability to avoid real damage, whereas the crits are what you got when you ran out of them.

April 12th, 2009 at 9:58 pm

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