On the Horror of the Critical hit

It needs to be common knowledge.

Critical misses and failures mean that the fighters and other combat focused characters suffer the most, turning them into the least consistent combatants. 

Why? A "critical miss" roll of 1 comes up a flat 5% of the time. Fighters make the most attacks. They will also then make the most critical failures. So the people who are best at fighting are those that critically fail at it most often. 

In nearly every edition of Dungeons and Dragons, the strength of fighters comes from their combat ability. Turning them into the least effective combatant quickly neutralizes their main trait and contributions. 

This is just a basic design consideration many Dungeon Masters may not consider. I come not only bearing knowledge of a problem, but also a solution. 

Any class that relies on fighting, for example, any class that gets an 'extra attack' does not fumble on a 1, but instead must roll again, fumbling only if the second roll comes up 1. This causes fighters to critically miss .25% of the time and other classes to critically miss 5% of the time. 

No muss, no fuss, and you're not twisting the balance of power towards spellcasters.

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Hack & Slash 

19 comments:

  1. Solution sounds extreme. Why not 25% chance of fumble (1 on 1d4) after rolling a 1 instead?

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    1. Because that's only 1.25%, which still seems too much for the fighting classes. Everyone else still fumbles 5% of the time.

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    2. 1.25% seems reasonable to me. I really like either solution except that such rules increase rule density. I'll try 1d4.

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  2. I suggest you examine a game like Dungeon Crawl Classics.

    Warriors can still fumble, but they can burn Luck to avoid a fumble, and they can do so after they know what the result is.

    Conversely, they crit more than any other character, and have the best crit effects. In addition, they add their level to Initiative, giving them a good chance at the first blow. Finally, the Mighty Deed gives them a good chance of success at any special maneuver, as well as a bonus to hit and to damage.

    The best version of a "fighter" class I've ever encountered.

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  3. Horror of a critical miss you mean not hit. I just let warriors not suffer from that foolery...hell they missed keep it moving.

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  4. I really appreciate concise articles like this. This is equal to many (good) longer articles.

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  5. Critical misses have always been a house rule - I'm not even sure formal rules exist for them even in the oldest versions of D&D. Solution is pretty simple - don't use critical misses.

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  6. Give fighters advantage when fighting. Then they only critically miss if both d20s come up 1s.

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  7. Fighters might fumble more often but they'll also have critical hits more often. Doesn't that even things out?

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  8. Don’t use them. They’re unfair to players. Monsters only fight once and therefore aren’t subject to many criticals. Players fight in every combat and are therefore subject to far more.

    Furthermore, criticals make fights more swingy. It’s harder to judge the likely result of combats with crits.it removes information from the players and can lead to worse decisions, let alone worse outcomes.

    The DM I play with has delightful crit charts, and the several players always vote to use them. When I referee, I don’t.

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  9. I get the arguement, and I've heart id before, but in all seriousness: going from "fighters roll more attacks" to "fighters are the least effective combatants" seems like a really big logical leap to make.

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  10. Yeah, if one has to roll to confirm a critical hit, I think it's fair to require a confirmation roll for a critical miss.

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  11. 1 is a possible fumble so roll to confirm if your second roll is enough to hit you don't fumble. Miss and you do. So more experienced fighters have the advantage

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  12. This conversation is just making me want to remove saves and criticals altogether.

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    1. Yep, I don't bother using them at all.

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  13. For OSR games I use 1 = miss, 20 = max damage. In conjunction with max+2 hp at first level for PCs, it works fine - eg a d6 hp Cleric has 8 hp at 1st level, and takes 6 dmg when an orc with d6 scimitar hits on a 20.

    I definitely advise strongly against any 'fumble on a 1' type rule unless the circumstance is unusual - firing into melee, a 1 is a good reason to reroll the attack vs your ally, but use an unmodified d20.

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  14. For myself, I take out some of the sting from critical misses by offering exp. It's a little complicated, but 'just' killing monsters or 'just' looting tombs never did it for me. Amongst other things, all critical hits grant a little bit of exp, and on a critical miss the following happens:
    - I as DM suggest something bad that happens. It could be pretty minor, like falling prone or dropping your weapon. Whatever it is has to make sense (so a wizard fumbling is much worse than a fighter fumbling)
    - If the player suggests something WORSE, that happens instead, and they get exp for it!

    It has been very, very fun so far.

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  15. This is how I handle it in my games: on a natural 1 re-roll the attack. If you miss, it’s a critical miss, if you hit the second time it’s just a (normal) miss. By virtue of higher chance to hit, fighting types suffer critical misses less often because they are less likely to miss twice in a row.

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