It is always interesting to see what a distance of just eight to nine months – not even a full year – can do to a rule-tinkerer’s perceptions. New rule supplements are read, pioneering blog posts are filtered and old classics revisited, influences insinuate themselves and the whole process of fungal spread of these things we call ideas takes place in the damp interstices of our brains.
Still fresh from thinking I have this or that section all cracked as a nut suite when bang: in come the all too familiar pangs of inadequacy; And lo, the wheels are set a’turning once more. I’ll be revisiting my take on a few rules, not for fun and profit (though I’m hoping for some of both), but due to feeling like I can do better.
A Map of All Our Failures
I had initially instituted Fumbles as a free-form process, inflicted by each would-be target upon the counterpart (DM to player characters, players to DM-controlled NPCs) whenever the die roll thus dictated, meaning usually whenever the icosahedron came up as a “1”, with proviso for greater fumble margins.
However, I’ve come to look at this as needlessly adversarial. Though outside of combat the nature of fumbling will of necessity be a lot more open-ended, at least within the confines of melee, where the nature of the exchange tends a lot more towards the do-or-die end of the spectrum, I believe it can benefit from a more rigid and neutral approach.
Thus, we move to extract more meaning from the damage roll accompanying a fumble, a very short – but hopefully sweet – table is born.
Whenever a character fumbles an attack, consult the damage die closest to the d20, rolled simultaneously.
Critical Hits came in two packages: enhanced damage or consequence.
For now I’m still pleased with this shape, but not the substance, as I don’t feel the option for “instant kill or knock out” should be present. I’ll forego on that and institute the following:
Whenever a Critical Hit is scored, the player chooses:
- Roll the attack’s damage dice twice, treating them as explodable (any maximum result yelds an additional die);
- Roll damage as normal and automatically succeed at a combat maneuver or inflict a non-incapacitating condition upon the target if it fails a Save (of a type appropriate to the condition inflicted, DC as highest of 10 or attack’s damage).