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Thread: Critical Saves

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Critical Saves

    Hey Playground I was thinking about a new Houserule for my 1ED game based on something awesome that happened in my game.

    My cleric cast Abjure on a daemon and rolled 1%. I said as a joke "Thats not sending him to Hell thats sending him to my god!" The DM liked the idea and gave me another role at 25% to send the daemon to be punished before my god. I made the role and there was much rejoicing.

    But it got me thinking about natural 20s and natural 1s and so forth. In our game a 20 on a hit role is max damage and a natural 1 rolls on a fumble table. Standard stuff really but I wanted to branch the idea out into terms of magic and saving throws.

    The general idea is that getting a natural 20 on a save has some additional effect. So if you get a 20 on a fireball you don't take half damage you take none. Enchantment spells would have a psychic backlash against the caster, nothing big, just like 1d10 or 1 per level of the save. But of course rolling a 1 would have penalties. Rolling a 1 against a fireball you'd either start burning or take extra damage. Against enchantments you'd be affected permanently or there'd be an after effect, so even if you got a Hold spell dispelled you'd be slowed, and a charm would make you unwilling to attack him directly even after it wore off.

    Just a quick thought I would like some feedback on balance or even ideas of your own while I work out the effects in more detail. The idea is just to make things more epic!
    I Am A:Neutral Good Human Bard/Sorcerer (2nd/1st Level)
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Thomar_of_Uointer's Avatar

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    Default Re: Critical Saves

    Well, the key issue behind saving throws is their intention. In D&D saving throws existed to make players roll more dice, specifically for nasty effects like charm and save-or-die. There have even been variants in many D&D systems for making players roll all the dice, even for attacks against them. This is because most tabletop RPGs are heavily based on that random semi-gambling aspect. Furthermore, the D20 has a 5% chance for a 1 and a 5% chance for a 20, which (for certain rolls) represent automatic failure and success.

    The 5% failure is something that really bothers me. Many people houserule it to be a fumble (or potential fumble), and I find that having a 5% or higher chance per round to lose your weapon is an un-fun way of doing things. One houserule I've considered is to make it so that a natural 1 is a miss with no other bad results (this is RAW for most systems), but the player can choose to reroll the attack and will only fumble on a roll of 10 or less.
    Last edited by Thomar_of_Uointer; 2012-11-10 at 02:46 AM.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Critical Saves

    Consider two hypothetical characters. Xavier hits on a 2 or better, and Yancy hits on a 20. This is about the best and worst possible odds.

    Regardless of skill, they each fumble 5% of the time, and they each crit 5% of the time. Xavier only hits 5% of the time, but all his hits are critical. Meanwhile, all of Yancy's misses are fumbles.

    This is clearly ridiculous, and the probability of a fumble should go down as you get more experience.

    So my house rule for any game using a d20 for attacks is that if you roll the worst possible roll (1 for D&D, sometimes 20 for other games), you roll again for a fumble. If you miss your "To hit" roll on the second die, you fumble. The same in the other direction for critical hits.

    As you get better, both hits and crits increase in frequency, while misses and fumbles both get less common. This means that 5% of your hits are critical, and 5% of your misses are fumbles, regardless of your skill.

    I don't change any game mechanic for crits and fumbles on saving throws, but will often describe it with fluff, like so.

    DM: You are about to fall off a precipice. Roll a saving throw.
    Player 1: I roll a 20.
    DM: You carefully pirouette of the very edge, turn a 180 degrees, and stop gracefully at the lip.
    Player 2: I roll a 1.
    DM: You turn a perfect pirouette, mirroring your friend perfectly, you turn 180 degrees, and stop gracefully on the lip. You smile a triumphant smile, as the rock under your foot breaks off, and you tumble down the cliff. Roll 3d6 damage.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Critical Saves

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    DM: You are about to fall off a precipice. Roll a saving throw.
    Player 1: I roll a 20.
    DM: You carefully pirouette of the very edge, turn a 180 degrees, and stop gracefully at the lip.
    Player 2: I roll a 1.
    DM: You turn a perfect pirouette, mirroring your friend perfectly, you turn 180 degrees, and stop gracefully on the lip. You smile a triumphant smile, as the rock under your foot breaks off, and you tumble down the cliff. Roll 3d6 damage.
    I like this. This is awesome.

    But this is less about fumbles more about the critical. I would only include the 'fumbles' for a save because if there is criticals then there is fumbles. I like the semi-gambling aspect, and so I do want to reward my players for rolling 20's. Not that thats the ONLY reason to reward them though.

    But if you were a wizard and my orc rolled a 20 on his save vs charm and you took backlash would you feel like something is going wrong there?
    I Am A:Neutral Good Human Bard/Sorcerer (2nd/1st Level)
    Ability Scores:
    Strength-14
    Dexterity-11
    Constitution-16
    Intelligence-16
    Wisdom-12
    Charisma-16

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Critical Saves

    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl45DM! View Post
    I like this. This is awesome.
    Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl45DM! View Post
    But if you were a wizard and my orc rolled a 20 on his save vs charm and you took backlash would you feel like something is going wrong there?
    If a spell has a possible bad effect, and I didn't know that in advance, then yes, I'd think something was going wrong here. If you told me about teh rules change in advance, then no, it's all OK.

    My concerns are about balance and tactics. Any rules change can potentially affect what the correct tactic is.. If you add a potential danger to a spell that didn't have one before, then that changes the game, and changes when that spell is the correct move.

    Again, on saving throws, I prefer to treat crits with fluff, without changing the result.

    Wizard player: I cast Charm Person on the orc.
    Orc player: I roll a 20.
    DM: The orc looks you up and down, and responds, "Well, thank you for the compliment, but you're not my type. Besides, I already have a boyfriend."

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Critical Saves

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Again, on saving throws, I prefer to treat crits with fluff, without changing the result.

    Wizard player: I cast Charm Person on the orc.
    Orc player: I roll a 20.
    DM: The orc looks you up and down, and responds, "Well, thank you for the compliment, but you're not my type. Besides, I already have a boyfriend."
    HAH!

    No I'm LOOKING to change the results. Fluff is fine and all but I'm not coming up with something new EVERY time theres a saving throw. I've got enough work as a DM. I want there to be a mechanical difference when you roll 20's and 1's in areas other than hitting things.

    So in general it doesnt seem to unbalanced?
    I Am A:Neutral Good Human Bard/Sorcerer (2nd/1st Level)
    Ability Scores:
    Strength-14
    Dexterity-11
    Constitution-16
    Intelligence-16
    Wisdom-12
    Charisma-16

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    CarpeGuitarrem's Avatar

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    Default Re: Critical Saves

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Consider two hypothetical characters. Xavier hits on a 2 or better, and Yancy hits on a 20. This is about the best and worst possible odds.

    Regardless of skill, they each fumble 5% of the time, and they each crit 5% of the time. Xavier Yancy only hits 5% of the time, but all his hits are critical. Meanwhile, all of Yancy's Xavier's misses are fumbles.

    This is clearly ridiculous, and the probability of a fumble should go down as you get more experience.
    I don't actually find it ridiculous, at all. It's very cinematic, which is the exact tone of D&D.

    Xavier is the character who's awesome, totally awesome. He never fails to hit--except when things really, truly, catastrophically go wrong for him. Then he comes crashing down in a giant heap of hubris. Is it realistic? Of course not. But it sounds pretty much hilarious and/or dramatic to me, and pretty fun.

    Yancy (btw, you flipped Xavier and Yancy in the second paragraph, fixed it) is utterly, totally incompetent. Yancy is the bumbling fool who can't ever seem to do anything right. And yet, every once in a blue moon, Yancy lucks out and pulls off something so ridiculously, awesomely spectacular that it makes me shed tears of manliness. That's the sort of moment where everyone goes "I can't believe you just did that..." and a light shines from the heavens, yadda yadda yadda.

    So maybe it's ridiculous if you want realism, but it's totally awesome if you're looking to a traditionally cinematic and dramatic tone, which is what D&D was always structured around.

    RE: balance, I totally don't think it's unbalanced. Tacking on a minor success rider for a crit sounds like a fantastic idea. My suggestion: dribble in a partial success from another, related skill. Using Diplomacy to convince the guard to let you through might also reveal a tasty rumor on a Crit that you would have had to roll Gather Information for. Or it's the sort of information that you'd have to do a lot of legwork and investigating to track down.

    Really, I feel as if the players know "on a 20, your success goes from 'good' to 'utterly fantastic'", it's cool.
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Critical Saves

    Quote Originally Posted by CarpeGuitarrem View Post
    I don't actually find it ridiculous, at all. It's very cinematic, which is the exact tone of D&D.
    Whatever else it is, it is not cinematic. I've never seen a movie in which a great swordsman who always either hits his opponent or drops his sword. Mostly, they exchange quips while missing through most of the fight.

    And the ineffectual sidekick in the movies always drops his sword or fumbles in some way far more often than the main hero and villain do. Likewise, The main hero or villain have critically effective hits far more often than the ineffectual sidekick does.

    So whatever it is you think you mean, it isn't "cinematic".

    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl45DM! View Post
    No I'm LOOKING to change the results. Fluff is fine and all but I'm not coming up with something new EVERY time theres a saving throw. I've got enough work as a DM. I want there to be a mechanical difference when you roll 20's and 1's in areas other than hitting things.
    OK, then first decide in what way the rules at present don't fit what you want, and why the spells that currently have no potential backlash should become risky to cast. Then determine to what extent you want to change the best tactics. These ideas should probably be discussed with the players in advance, because it might change what character class they want to play. From those kinds of discussions, you can determine what changes to make to the rules.

    I was in one game in which the GM made what seemed like a trivial change in the rules. Instead of using the hit location chart, a player rolled on his expertise. If he made the roll, he hit the location he aimed at.

    Sounds trivial, right? My character devoted more points to expertise, because it meant that most hits became instant kills. It turned a small difference in fighting skill into a devastatingly large one.

    Rules changes can change tactical considerations. Fluff changes are just fun, or at least diverting.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Critical Saves

    Carpe this is 1st Ed. The REAL d&d .There isnt any skills like Diplomacy.

    Jay Two points
    1) They aren't missing in the movies. They are doing damage. Hit points are abstract. However for a truly great swordsman to not tax the abilities of a novice he would have to do something like trip over a shoelace.
    2) It shouldn't affect the tactics much in 1stEd. Save for half spells become save for half and nothing 5% of the time. Save for Neg. spells become save for neg or backlash 5% of the time. It makes all offensive spells more risky but balances it out with more possible gain...
    I Am A:Neutral Good Human Bard/Sorcerer (2nd/1st Level)
    Ability Scores:
    Strength-14
    Dexterity-11
    Constitution-16
    Intelligence-16
    Wisdom-12
    Charisma-16

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    CarpeGuitarrem's Avatar

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    Default Re: Critical Saves

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Whatever else it is, it is not cinematic. I've never seen a movie in which a great swordsman who always either hits his opponent or drops his sword. Mostly, they exchange quips while missing through most of the fight.
    Can't break it down blow-by-blow, and that doesn't even take into account the fact that a combat round doesn't represent a single swing of the sword, but is rather an abstraction of all the actions a character takes during a dramatic beat. Both of them flurry blows at one another? Look at who gains ground over the other; there's where the attack roll was actually made.

    Speaking of which, movies generally operate according to the "opposed roll" paradigm: attacker and defender roll, and the high roller pushes back or damages their opponent. Roll vs. AC is a wargaming idea, not a story idea.

    So, when I say "cinematic", I mean that the tone itself is like that of a dramatic swashbuckling story. I'll explain further below, because it all ties together. (I feel that "emulating cinema" isn't the only definition of "cinematic". I apply that term to mean anything which contains qualities often found in movies, generally adventure movies.)
    And the ineffectual sidekick in the movies always drops his sword or fumbles in some way far more often than the main hero and villain do. Likewise, The main hero or villain have critically effective hits far more often than the ineffectual sidekick does.

    So whatever it is you think you mean, it isn't "cinematic".
    I disagree. Can you cite specifics? Those strike me as being normal failures and successes, for the most part, which means that (naturally) the ineffectual sidekick fails more often, and the hero is effective more often. I feel like actual fumbles and actual crits are much rarer than you think in such films. Context is everything; an action that would be a fumble in one movie wouldn't be a fumble in another.

    But to really sum up, here's why I feel that crits and fumbles in such a situation showcase a dramatic tone.

    In an adventure story (generally a movie, but "cinematic" is a much broader term in this context), when the highly competent hero fails, everyone goes "Oh #!%#$!". When the incompetent sidekick succeeds, everyone goes "Oh #@%^, I can't believe that just happened!".

    When a disproportionate number of failures are fumbles, or a disproportionate number of successes are crits, that's what evokes the same emotion, the same feeling, at the gaming table.

    Also, Lvl45DM!, good catch. Pretend I said "Charisma check".
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    Default Re: Critical Saves

    I'm toying with a sort of feat system for 1E/2E that uses a variable crit/fumble system that can be boosted with experience bonuses.

    Basically, as you level up you get skills that can be used when you roll a crit, or when your opponent rolls a fumble.

    For example, Biff the fighter may have earned the following skills at 12th level:



    Critical Hit
    ----------

    a) Power Strike: If Biff rolls a crit, damage is doubled.

    b) Shield Rush: Instead of rolling for weapon damage, Biff can attempt a shield rush to knock his opponent down. The opponent rolls a DEX check at -5. Failure means that he is at -4 to his hit and AC until he regains his feet. Biff must have shield to use this move.

    c) Cripple: Biff's attack hits the opponent in a spot that hampers his combat effectiveness. Opponent has -2 to hit and AC until healed.

    d) Headbutt: Biff may use a headbutt (for 1d3 damage) in lieu of his normal attack. A spellcaster that's been hit with a headbutt may not cast spells or psionic attacks for an amount of rounds equal to the headbutt damage.


    Critical Fumble
    --------------

    a) Disarm: If Biff's opponent rolls a fumble, Biff may use this skill to automatically disarm his opponent of one weapon he is holding.

    b) Riposte: If Biff's opponent rolls a fumble, Biff gets a free attack for 1d4 pts of damage (plus bonuses).

    c) Bind: Biff's opponent loses his next attack. If the opponent is using multiple weapons, Biff's player may choose which weapon is bound.


    As Biff levels up he will be able to unlock different skills, say, one skill at every two levels. In play, Biff chooses ONE of those skills to use when he makes a critical, or when his opponent makes a fumble.

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