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    Default [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    Any feedback on the critical feats in Pathfinder? I'm finding them difficult to adjust to, and I'm not liking the effect on the game.

    Background: The critical feats apply effects on critical hits. Some have saves, some don't - many with saves will have a lesser effect if the save is made, but this can still be pretty nasty - stunning critical for example stuns the opponent for 1d4 rounds on a filed save, and merely staggers the foe on a successful save. That's still 1d4 rounds of a slow effect.

    Problem: The entire critical feat chain rewards TWF, and specifically TWF with 18-20 crit weapons (scimitar and kukri, or similar). While the x3 and x4 crit weapons are actually somewhat balanced to 19-20 and 18-20 weapons for damage purposes, they are not of much use with any of these feats. Given how effective the feats are I'm surprised that there is no similar chain for the big damage weapons with high crit multipliers (there were, in the form of the two-handed weapon chain in beta and Devastating Blow).

    This was introduced between beta and final, and is one of the things that seems poorly play tested (if at all).

    I have no desire to see every high level warrior type swinging paired kukri or scimitars.

    Solutions:
    Treat critical feats as vorpal - only on a 20?
    * Weakens feats a lot. Might be underpowered.

    Treat critical feats as natural 20, or 19-20 with improved crit?
    * Twice as strong as the above, still treats all weapons equally.

    Determine range that triggers effect from weapon size - off hand on a 20, main hand on 19-20, or two handed weapon on 18-20. This results in similar rates regarldelss of weapon style.
    * complicated - you'll crit without triggering sometimes, or trigger without critting other times.

    Do nothing
    * end up with hordes of dual-kukri stunning critical fighters who nearly always stun opponents.

    Any other options?

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    A lot of the critical feats have rider effects that many creature types are flat-out immune to. Your stunning example won't work on undead or constructs or plants or elementals or oozes. And they still have to land a crit. They really don't activate all that frequently.

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    AFAIK, Pathfinder has not changed what creatures are subject to critical hits. (At least in Beta, I don't own the final version). So any feats that require a critical hit as a trigger are inherently weak, as a huge number of enemies are immune to critical hits. So I would do nothing.

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    I really like the favor of critical feats but see that the math doesn't work.
    The OP is correct that this is a defect in pathfinder.

    The fact that undead are immune to a critical feat is irrelevant as they are also immune to criticals.

    This is a case where the game designers should have looked to see if the choices are balanced. They simply are not.

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    It may be nice for TWF, but what's the problem with that? TWF is already sub-optimal and feat intensive.
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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    Quote Originally Posted by Mongoose87 View Post
    It may be nice for TWF, but what's the problem with that? TWF is already sub-optimal and feat intensive.
    As Mongoose said. I agree that the critical feats aren't well balanced, but I'm glad to see the support for a weak weapon choice.

    One solution if you want to ensure that the criticals happen less often would be to remove the 18-20 weapons from the game, so the best you could manage would be a 19-20 (or 17-20 with Keen).

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    As has been noted, they're more situational than they seem at first glance. Assuming a character does face mostly crit-vulnerable foes, they can be useful, but just like rogues and sneak attack, they're hosed if they're fighting crit-immune foes. Another similarity is that rogues like TWF for all the wonderful sneak attack damage they can get off. Unless you have a problem with rogues always TWFing for the most damage, someone who TWFs for a high number of attacks which may or may not end up as crits shouldn't be a problem either.
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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    Even with a crit range of 15-20, critical hits are a luck-based ability. The odds of a critical are between 5% and 35%, depending on the threat range.

    Luck dictates whether or not the feats ever trigger, as it is possible to go from levels 1-20 without rolling a single critical (unlikely as it may sound) even with a threat range of 15-20.


    Finally, this is very feat-intensive. Even with PF's additional feats, it is going to be difficult for a character to have all of them, the TWFing tree, and still be competent without serious multiclassing.

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    You could just arbitrarily rule that it only works 18 or 19-20, even if your actual threat range is larger than that.

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    So, a player wishes to spend 3 feats on the TWF tree, and then another feat on imp. critical (or some money on a keen weapon), and at least one feat on a critical feat... so at least 4 feats... and in return, he gets a good chance to inflict a status effect on opponents that aren't either immune to crits or immune to whatever status he is trying to inflict (please note that a lot of creatures at higher levels, or even mid-levels, are immune to crits, and i don't want to get into the other statuses)... Against most opponents (the ones that are immune to crits), he has wasted either 2 feats or a feat and a bunch of gold. And he is merely a TWF-er. (Considered weak). and this is overpowering to you?

    In the meantime, the wizards are inflicting those same statuses without having to hope for a critical.

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    Quote Originally Posted by chaos_redefined View Post
    So, a player wishes to spend 3 feats on the TWF tree, and then another feat on imp. critical (or some money on a keen weapon), and at least one feat on a critical feat... so at least 4 feats... and in return, he gets a good chance to inflict a status effect on opponents that aren't either immune to crits or immune to whatever status he is trying to inflict (please note that a lot of creatures at higher levels, or even mid-levels, are immune to crits, and i don't want to get into the other statuses)... Against most opponents (the ones that are immune to crits), he has wasted either 2 feats or a feat and a bunch of gold. And he is merely a TWF-er. (Considered weak). and this is overpowering to you?

    In the meantime, the wizards are inflicting those same statuses without having to hope for a critical.
    Yeah, a lot of things in Pathfinder that people think are broken in theory are actually rather balanced in practice. We've been playing Pathfinder fairly RAW and it hasn't thrown us any gamebreakers yet.

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    Do nothing. AFAIK characters gain this feat at 17th level and weapon wielders need all the battlefield control or debuffs they can get. Remember at 17th while your warrior MAY (get lucky and) permanently stun 3-4 enemies per combat (assuming they are not somehow immune to stun) but
    a) Its an ability they don't get when they want it, instead occurring randomly (a big minus for me)
    b) The party' s wizard/cleric/archivist/druid/shadowcaster gets 9th level spells .

    If however you encounter problems with stun or daze, may i suggest a feat from lords of madness? Its called Quick recovery and it helps a lot.
    Last edited by peacenlove; 2009-09-16 at 01:07 AM.

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    Ok, somehow I have missed this. What is AFAIK?
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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    As Far As I Know

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    I basically agree with people above (you could leave things as they are) but I suggest a solution, if you like it. IIRC, these feats allow a save to negate the effect.

    If the weapon has a crit (basic) 18-20, lower the save by, say, 2

    If the weapon has 19-20, keep the basic save.

    If the weapon need 20 to crit, raise the save DC by 2.

    If the Weapon has a x4, raise by another 2.

    Of course this should be adjusted (maybe you change the save only by 1, or ignore same of the things suggested) but at least you could have a reason to choose.
    Last edited by Kaiyanwang; 2009-09-16 at 03:33 AM.
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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    Ok, many people are addressing the power of the feats, when what concerns me more is the fact that they make 18-20 weapons the only real choice for high level fighters.

    Why would anyone use a x3 or x4 weapon? The idea of modifying saves is reasonable, though many are pretty effective whethe r the saves are successful or not (or offer no save).

    Yes, I know that they are feat intensive, but a higher levels a fighter has stupid numbers of feats (and a rogue could actually have a pretty hefty number too).

    Oh, and is everyone certain that TWF is still weak (other than feat investment, which isn't difficult for anyone with piles of extra feats)? You can Power Attack with TWF (even with light weapons) and the total power attack bonus is the same as for 2H fighting (x2 and x1, adds to x3) while also benefitting from more activations of critical hits. You can get full strength on both hands easily, and you can add things like weapon training or specialization to both weapons, and by RAW I would say that a paladin's smite looks pretty effective with TWF, adding his level (or double his level against dragons, undead, and evil outsiders) on all his attacks.

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    Quote Originally Posted by Epinephrine View Post
    Ok, many people are addressing the power of the feats, when what concerns me more is the fact that they make 18-20 weapons the only real choice for high level fighters.

    Why would anyone use a x3 or x4 weapon?
    Well, presumably because they haven't taken any of the critical feats in the first place. If by high levels you're typically fighting crit-immune or crit-resistant enemies, then it's probably not worth spending a feat on something that only triggers on a crit.

    Building your character to rely on secondary effects from critical hits is generally a weak strategy because:

    a) many enemies are immune to criticals
    b) critical hits are entirely luck-based
    c) if you do land a critical, there's a decent chance that the target is dead anyway, making any secondary effects redundant.

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    Building your character to rely on secondary effects from critical hits is generally a weak strategy because:

    a) many enemies are immune to criticals
    True. And others have pointed out that even if they are vulnerable to crits, they may be immune to the crit-generated effects, something I wasn't really considering.

    b) critical hits are entirely luck-based
    So are attacks and spells with saves, yet people use those.

    I get what you mean, but if you get a full attack off you are actually pretty likely to score a crit - it depends on the AC of the target, but if you have +4 to confirm crits and a good attack bonus you'll be confirming a lot of your crits, especially on the full BAB and -5 BAB attacks. Ignoring the -10 and -15 BAB attacks, you probably have three at full and two at -5 as a TWF guy with some form of speed or haste effect. Assuming that you are likely to hit (which you probably are with your best 2 attacks on most foes?) you're looking at an expected value close to 1.5 crits per round from a 15-20 crit weapon (depends of course on the actual chance to hit, but at as low as ~60% chance to hit (hitting on a 9) on your full BAB attacks you are still at an expected value of 1 crit per round from just those 5 attacks).

    And even at only 30% chance on a single attack, it's a free effect that doesn't cost you uses/day or actions.

    c) if you do land a critical, there's a decent chance that the target is dead anyway, making any secondary effects redundant.
    Very true with big damage weapons, less true with TWF and little light weapon though (right?). Might be best on rogues who naturally want the TWF chain, and who don't get huge multipliers on their bonus damage - it's a nice free effect they can activate whether they are getting SA off or not, and it can enable their SA by denying Dex bonuses to their target.

    Anyway, again - while I may have expressed concern about the power of the feats, I'm more concerned at this point about how to make it work across all weapons - to allow for people who wish (for whatever reason) to use something other than paired kukri or scimitars when TWF. Pretend I don't care at all about the TWF part of it, or about the power level - is there a reasonable way to balance this for a dwarf who wants to use a pair of axes (x3 crits) or for someone who sees their character whirling a pair of light clubs like an eskrima fighter (call them light maces).
    Last edited by Epinephrine; 2009-09-16 at 08:46 AM.

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    Quote Originally Posted by Epinephrine View Post
    Very true with big damage weapons, less true with TWF and little light weapon though (right?).
    Kind of, it's more a general rule - if you can land enough attacks on a guy to have a good chance of getting a threat, and if you can also hit the guy consistently enough to confirm the threat, then he's probably dead meat anyway. :)

    The dangerous enemies are usually the ones you can't hit at all, either because they're impossible to target (due to high speed/stealth/defences/miss chance) or because they're so freaking deadly that standing next to them long enough to get off a full attack is practically a death sentence.

    Quote Originally Posted by Epinephrine View Post
    Pretend I don't care at all about the TWF part of it, or about the power level - is there a reasonable way to balance this for a dwarf who wants to use a pair of axes (x3 crits) or for someone who sees their character whirling a pair of light clubs like an eskrima fighter (call them light maces).
    Well, there have been several good solutions suggested already:

    a) make it only trigger on a nat. 20, or 19-20 with Keen/Improved Crit. This puts all weapons on an equal footing but also takes away most of the reason to take the feat in the first place.

    b) have it trigger more powerfully on weapons with a x3 crit modifier and even more powerfully on weapons with a x4 crit modifier. Either increase the DC of the save, or have the effect trigger multiple times, so the effect triggers twice on a x3 weapon and three times on a x4 weapon.

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    Well, there have been several good solutions suggested already:

    a) make it only trigger on a nat. 20, or 19-20 with Keen/Improved Crit. This puts all weapons on an equal footing but also takes away most of the reason to take the feat in the first place.
    yeah, I was worried this might be too big a nerf to it...

    b) have it trigger more powerfully on weapons with a x3 crit modifier and even more powerfully on weapons with a x4 crit modifier. Either increase the DC of the save, or have the effect trigger multiple times, so the effect triggers twice on a x3 weapon and three times on a x4 weapon.
    Hmm - I hadn't thought of the trigger multiple times idea! Extended durations would work, or multiple saves. Easier than modifying the save per weapon, and certainly effective.

    Since you are about 1/3rd as likely to connect with a crit with a x3 or x4 weapon as with an 18-20, increasing the duration by a decent amount (x2 and x3) would certainly make for a punishing effect. But of course, combats don't generally last that long. DCs may be the best approach, or DCs and the duration of the effect.

    TBH, if you crit with most x4 weapons he's likely done for anyway (power attack with a Dire Pick?), but it's nice to have more of an effect for your pick than for a club.

    With tougher DC and a longer duration, I could see it at least being an option - the 18-20 weapons causes more saves for a light effect, the x4 weapon causes fewer saves, but they are tougher to make, and the effect last longer/ is stronger. Or, if you simply use multiple triggers (so two triggers for x3 and 3 trigers for x4) they generate the same number of saves over time, and you don't need to modify the effects.

    An effect like bleeding critical could deliver a bigger bleed effect (making it reasonable with a bow, perhaps), while a staggering attack might last longer.
    Last edited by Epinephrine; 2009-09-16 at 09:10 AM.

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    Default Re: [Pathfinder] Critical feats

    Another possible solution would be for a confirmed critical to apply a number of critical feats equal to it's damage multiplier -1. i.e. a x2 crit weapon applies one critical feat on a successful crit, a x3 weapon applies 2.. etc etc.

    The critical mastery feat can then simply be house-ruled to remove the -1, allowing you to apply a number of critical feats equal to the multiplier.
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