# Simulating a Critical Hit

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I was hoping to attempt to simulate a critical hit for a particular attack with the idea that if you hit the attack with either:

• an 8- or
• a roll that was 1/2 of what you needed to hit an attack with

Whichever is lower
You would get some extra dice to add to the damage

Meaning if an attacker had an OCV of 5 vs a target with a DCV of 3, you could hit with a 13- so 1/2 of that is 7.

Would you allow it? If not, would you allow it if it could do no more damage than the base attack the dice were attached to? What sort of limitation would you give it?

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Hmm.  There is the whole argument of whether critical hits are a good or bad thing as the probabilities weigh against the player characters who are in every fight.  However, that is not what this is about, it is about providing good rolls with additional damage, something I have generally been in favour of.

If you take the example above you get a reasonably good idea of what you might cost it at.  I think that if you took +4D6 with an 8- activation roll, linked to an attack, with the stipulation that the damage from the bonus 4 dice added to that of the main attack could not exceed the maximum damage of the main attack, then you would have a construct I would be inclined to allow in a game of mine.

I would start with the limitation for 8- and an additional -1/2 for being linked to the main attack.  I “might” be persuaded as to an additional -1/4 for the damage limitation but that would depend a LOT on the relative strengths of the main attack and the bonus.  If I never thought I would hit the cap then it would be a -0 limitation.

I would not require an additional roll for the bonus, just deliver additional dice on whether the roll to attack was 8- or half the required roll (whatever was lower).

Doc

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What I can't figure out is where critical hits came from to begin with.  They were never part of basic or AD&D official rules.  They just sort of... showed up.  From where?  What was the origin and why did they catch on other than "dude I can hit really hard sometimes!" ?

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2 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

However, that is not what this is about,

Right.  That being said, I'll try to keep my digressions out of that direction.

As to the first question: would I allow it, well.... No.   With caveats:  wouldn't allow it on the basis of adding Critical Hits, accessible to everyone, because I don't use Critical Hits in HERO.  As Doc notes, that's not what this is about, so I won't go into it beyond saying "I have other things I do to reward extraordinary success," and Crits aren't one of them.  I have nothing against them; it's just not the feel I want.

_However_, I would allow it as a build, and I will approach it that way, much like Doc did:

2 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

If you take the example above you get a reasonably good idea of what you might cost it at.  I think that if you took +4D6 with an 8- activation roll, linked to an attack, with the stipulation that the damage from the bonus 4 dice added to that of the main attack could not exceed the maximum damage of the main attack, then you would have a construct I would be inclined to allow in a game of mine.

I would start with the limitation for 8- and an additional -1/2 for being linked to the main attack.  I “might” be persuaded as to an additional -1/4 for the damage limitation but that would depend a LOT on the relative strengths of the main attack and the bonus.  If I never thought I would hit the cap then it would be a -0 limitation.

I don't have a problem with -1/4 _on the "bonus" dice simply because there will be times when the character doesn't get the full utility of these dice.  Now I do not now what genre or power level Cap is considering this for, but let's assume it's something Heroic-- Fantasy, Maybe.

Our player has weapon that, with his STR bonus, give him a total of 6 DC normal damage.  Let's say that the critical hit rule allows +2DC.  Supposing he rolls extremely well, and gets an average of

4.5.  His regular dice total 27 Stun with a maximum potential 36 Stun, leaving a total potential improvement of only 9, while the dice have the potential to roll up to 12.  _should_ that happen, the player is deprived of some of the effect.  Now this requires him to roll above average (which happens regularly, obviously, or there wouldn't be anything to average   ) and then roll higher still on his bonus dice, so it's not going to happen a lot.

Oddly, if there are 4 "bonus dice," the limitation denies ever more utility.  And of course, if the character's attack is larger than 6DC and / or the bonus is less than 2DC, then there is almost no chance of losing utility.  _Almost_ no chance; someone can always Yahtzee out, but the more dice involved, the less likely this is on any given roll.  As the gap between the size of the attack and the size of the bonus widens, the Limitation disappears on all but paper, so for Supers games, I'd have to cost it build-by-build.

So yeah: I _totally_ see where you're coming from with the comment about whether or not it would hit the cap, but I don't have an issue with accepting a -1/4 just out of hat, and I become more accepting as the difference between the primary attack and the bonus dice gets shorter. I wouldn't go _above_ -1/4 unless you were building "bonus dice equal to damage dice" or something, and I certainly wouldn't put the bonus dice about above +1/2 of your regular damage (and am inclined to keep it at +1/4 to 1/3, simply because, as Doc points out, the PCs are in every fight.  Further, too much bonus and it becomes a crutch: 8- isn't that uncommon, realistically, so these bonus dice will come into play quite regularly.)

2 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

I would not require an additional roll for the bonus, just deliver editions dice on whether the roll to attack was 8- or half the required roll (whatever was lower).

Agreed.  Adding a roll that's not really required for what you're trying to build.  Even if the rule (Activation) specifies it, it's just not necessary for this particular idea, and every roll you can remove from HERO's rather drawn-out combat resolution is a plus.  (That, and I just like the cleanliness of this idea).

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46 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

What I can't figure out is where critical hits came from to begin with.  They were never part of basic or AD&D official rules.  They just sort of... showed up.  From where?  What was the origin and why did they catch on other than "dude I can hit really hard sometimes!" ?

This link puts it as AD&D 2nd edition when it was put in as an optional rule because it was a popular house rule. I remember playing with critical hits a long time before that but I no longer have any of my books and don't remember if the rule came from them or if it was something our original DM brought over from his previous group. When he showed up he already had the original Chainmail, the original 1974 wood-grain D&D boxed set with the three pamphlets and charts, the "Gods, Demigods, and Heroes" pamphlet supplement from 1976, and the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual and the Player's Handbook (which Wikipedia says came out in 1977 and 1978 respectively). I went with him to the store to buy the Dungeon Master's Guide when it came out in 1979.

It's cool when you can randomly hit harder on occasion than be bad guys and comes in handy if your group is often facing off against outnumbered foes.

But when the foes in the campaign consistently outnumber you, critical hits suck. They suck so hard.

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43 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

Agreed.  Adding a roll that's not really required for what you're trying to build.  Even if the rule (Activation) specifies it, it's just not necessary for this particular idea, and every roll you can remove from HERO's rather drawn-out combat resolution is a plus.  (That, and I just like the cleanliness of this idea).

Using the attack roll as the crit roll noticeably increases the power of the construct, actually.

E: Assuming the 8- crit, not the 1/2 crit.  The 1/2 crit is difficult to assign value to because it depends so strongly on the OCVs and DCVs involved.

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6 hours ago, cptpatriot said:

I was hoping to attempt to simulate a critical hit for a particular attack with the idea that if you hit the attack with either:

• an 8- or
• a roll that was 1/2 of what you needed to hit an attack with

Whichever is lower
You would get some extra dice to add to the damage

Meaning if an attacker had an OCV of 5 vs a target with a DCV of 3, you could hit with a 13- so 1/2 of that is 7.

Would you allow it? If not, would you allow it if it could do no more damage than the base attack the dice were attached to? What sort of limitation would you give it?

There are a couple of options in the Ultimate Martial Artist 4-5th ed. Not sure with HSMA though.

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I used to run crits this way:

If you rolled and were able to hit double the target's DCV, you got a crit.  This gave you a choice: do maximum damage or hit the exact location you want.  SO it wasn't so much a super hit with extra damage, just a really good solid, controlled hit.

But players got kinda tired of it and didn't care if we used it any more.

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In my bi-weekly game, if someone rolls a three I allow them to add dice to their attack.  Say its a 12d6 Blast (supers obviously) then I would allow them to roll 6 different dice along with their 12.

They keep the highest dice rolls and drop the lower ones.

Have not thought of adding this as a "Crit" like on 8- though.

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On 3/31/2019 at 3:31 AM, Christopher R Taylor said:

What I can't figure out is where critical hits came from to begin with.  They were never part of basic or AD&D official rules.  They just sort of... showed up.  From where?  What was the origin and why did they catch on other than "dude I can hit really hard sometimes!" ?

The Blackmoor supplement for original D&D introduced hit locations, including effectively instant kills.

Empire of the Petal Throne had "true" critical hits, although not under that name.

Both were published in 1975.

Runequest used the term. Its first edition was published in 1978. It seems to have been mechanically derived from early D&D variants.

It's possible that the term was used in wargaming prior to any of these.

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I've always sort of wondered about that, myself, actually.

Not being a huge D&D guy, I just assumed it grew out of the Vorpal Blade insta-kills and never pursued the actual facts.

Thanks, Assault.

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39 minutes ago, assault said:

It's possible that the term was used in wargaming prior to any of these.

It was.

I no longer have all the old rule-sets I used to, but my c1981 copy of Seekrieg 4 has defined critical damage for penetrating rounds.

I can remember the micro-armor we played also had criticals for penetrating rounds.

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13 minutes ago, Spence said:

It was.

I no longer have all the old rule-sets I used to, but my c1981 copy of Seekrieg 4 has defined critical damage for penetrating rounds.

I can remember the micro-armor we played also had criticals for penetrating rounds.

I was thinking that naval games would be a likely source.

The WW2 stuff I played (and in theory, still play) wasn't micro-armor, and thus not so fine grained in terms of armour penetration.

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I'd rather model "criticals" with manouevres that have an OCV penalty and DC bonus.

Not, strictly speaking, a critical system, I know. But it gives you the benefit of good die roll = extra damage, plus the player decides when to use it. I'm generally in favour of anything that gives the player more agency in the game.

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7 hours ago, assault said:

The Blackmoor supplement for original D&D introduced hit locations, including effectively instant kills.

I didn't remember that. The scenario from Blackmoor was the first game of any kind I tried to GM.

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On 3/30/2019 at 1:11 PM, archer said:

This link puts it as AD&D 2nd edition when it was put in as an optional rule because it was a popular house rule. I remember playing with critical hits a long time before that but I no longer have any of my books and don't remember if the rule came from them or if it was something our original DM brought over from his previous group. When he showed up he already had the original Chainmail, the original 1974 wood-grain D&D boxed set with the three pamphlets and charts, the "Gods, Demigods, and Heroes" pamphlet supplement from 1976, and the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual and the Player's Handbook (which Wikipedia says came out in 1977 and 1978 respectively). I went with him to the store to buy the Dungeon Master's Guide when it came out in 1979.

It's cool when you can randomly hit harder on occasion than be bad guys and comes in handy if your group is often facing off against outnumbered foes.

But when the foes in the campaign consistently outnumber you, critical hits suck. They suck so hard.

I use them in my Fantasy Hero campaigns and they are reasonably deadly.

They also make plain that highly offensive maneuvers that reduce DCV (haymaker, multiple attack, bracing for archers/mages) make you vulnerable in ways that can be dire.

I also like that a standard issue goon with a 2d6k can stay dangerous even in higher level campaigns.

My Wednesday night table is in the section of the book designed for 14th level D&D characters.  They are handling it pretty well, but they had less trouble with the Behir (lightning dragon basically) than they did with the 20 hobgoblins in plate and chain.  The sheer number of arrows flying at them resulted in a couple crits and one guy took an arrow to the helmet that moderately wounded him and KO'd him on the spot.

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Xd6 attack, Standard Effect (only on attack roll of half or lower of target number; see text) plus Xd6 Attack, only on attack roll of half or lower of target number (see text), Standard Effect.

That would do it exactly, I think.

The first part of the attack is diced regularly on a hit, but on a critical hit it's considered Standard Effect; the second part of the attack is the same dice value as the first, and does nothing unless the dice come up a critical hit, in which case it also does its Standard Effect damage.  Together, that comes to the same amount as the max damage roll on the basic attack.

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We use crit success/failure rolls.  We recently had a PC mage who rolled a 3 to hit while using a large AoE KA on some bandits, which translated into max damage.  Most of the bandits were dead or nearly dead and the rest were either knocked out or seriously stunned.

We have also had someone crit fail and end up with a broken bow string or lower DCV (being out of position) or drop a weapon.

The players know if the they can crit so can the bad guys.

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13 minutes ago, bluesguy said:

The players know if the they can crit so can the bad guys.

It's often noted that, over time, crits are worse for the PCs than the opposition, as the opposition will eventually get a lucky roll against the PCs.  So let me ask...

14 minutes ago, bluesguy said:

We use crit success/failure rolls.  We recently had a PC mage who rolled a 3 to hit while using a large AoE KA on some bandits, which translated into max damage.  Most of the bandits were dead or nearly dead and the rest were either knocked out or seriously stunned.

whether a bad guy has rolled a similar crit, leaving the PCs mostly dead, with a couple KOd or deeply Stunned?  How does that play out?

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11 minutes ago, Hugh Neilson said:

It's often noted that, over time, crits are worse for the PCs than the opposition, as the opposition will eventually get a lucky roll against the PCs.  So let me ask...

At our Saturday game a couple of weeks ago the party's Witcher got mind controlled and then landed a vitals crit that dropped my wife's sorceress directly to -6 BOD with a disabling wound (no Recoveries).

Crits are scary, but they do make for some really dramatic encounters.  Making sure the party wins can be a little tricky at times.

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28 minutes ago, Toxxus said:

At our Saturday game a couple of weeks ago the party's Witcher got mind controlled and then landed a vitals crit that dropped my wife's sorceress directly to -6 BOD with a disabling wound (no Recoveries).

Crits are scary, but they do make for some really dramatic encounters.  Making sure the party wins can be a little tricky at times.

Are you speaking as the GM or as one of the players when you say "Making sure the party wins can be a little tricky at times"?

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7 minutes ago, archer said:

Are you speaking as the GM or as one of the players when you say "Making sure the party wins can be a little tricky at times"?

As the GM.  I like the occasional desperately difficult battle, but players rarely enjoy getting stomped into the mud.

Last week they had an encounter where nobody got significantly injured, but they basically fought the big bad to a stalemate for a couple of turns before he vanished.  He's supposed to get away via plot device, but the encounter itself was perfect.

They thought they were meeting a spy contact.  Only to find out they had been getting grilled by the spy's assassin (spy is long dead).  Then they got to 5v1 murder this guy - and I had just let them have a couple of feel-your-wheaties encounters against trash-level street thugs.  One player described it as the hapless street tough trying to mug the Punisher.

So they get this lone spy trapped and expect to pancake him on phase 12.  He's DCV 11 + has spells + high defenses and a murderous damage output.

They had a couple of phases of wtf-is-happening-here and then went into full X-Men danger room training mode.  The Udyr (spirit shaman tank) is finally able to grab the guy after the fire witch flashes him and the explosives expert has forgone explosives to land damage-less hits with his marking crossbow (lowers enemy DCV).  It was glorious.  When the smoke cleared they were thrilled to get the draw against such an unexpectedly dangerous opponent.

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1 hour ago, Hugh Neilson said:

It's often noted that, over time, crits are worse for the PCs than the opposition, as the opposition will eventually get a lucky roll against the PCs.  So let me ask...

whether a bad guy has rolled a similar crit, leaving the PCs mostly dead, with a couple KOd or deeply Stunned?  How does that play out?

That hasn't happened yet.  For instance, two weeks at the end of the session they had decided - "we should raid the enemies base camp and burn their supplies before we leave on our ship". I rapidly put a map up (VTT - I have a ton of digital maps), showed them where people were when they took their quick look and where the supplies were.  They had a preliminary plan on how to attack the base camp and burn the supply tent.  So during the week I made updated the map, included the tents and what the 'fortification' was and came up with a guard schedule and what the bad guys would be doing.  Night guard was a higher count than day guard and 1/2 the day guard takes prisoners out to cut down trees for lumber to improve the fortification and to build rafts that can be used to go up river.

The players saw the set up and said - hell no we are going into that.  Let us ambush the lumber patrol and probably wipe our a major part of their force.  You can imagine what I was thinking (dang I have to think of another map I have and think on my toes).  As you can imagine they laid an ambush and wiped out the guards and rescued the prisoners.  They even left a cryptic message that a band of knights was coming to attack the fort in the morning (pretty plausible since they bad guys know about a band of knights in the area).

The point of this is that the players in my group either try to negotiate whenever possible or make sure to be the ambushers rather than the ambushed.

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Yeah the problem is ultimately that while the PCs are few and specific, the NPCs are effectively infinite.  And while a crit on an NPC can be devastating, another steps in to take its place.  But a crit on a PC can be incredibly deadly because that's the only PC like that in the universe.

Its like in a computer game, when the NPCs ignore all sense of self preservation, logic, or tactics because once the player loses, the game is over.  They can lose any number of their kind, since they're infinite, but there's only one player and when he or she loses, its all over.

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