Friday, September 6, 2019

Critical Hits & Failures on Hitting the Wrong Target

Crogar the Barbarian accidentally chopped his own leg for a lot of damage (something like 18+ injury) during our last game when he tried to cut down a giant fly that was on his chest. He just flat out tried to whack it, taking all sorts of penalties for being grappled (I think roughly -3 or -4 at the time), attacking into close combat (-2), and attacking in close combat with a Reach 1 weapon (-4). Oh, and a SM-1 target. He missed, and had a chance to hit the wrong target - in this case, himself.

He had a 9 or the original chance to hit, which was about the same. Either way, he rolled a 17.

I ruled it was a critical failure, he rolled on the table, got a 5, and down he went with a crippled leg.

I ruled that a critical failure - a 17 or an 18 - would take effect normally in such a case. My reasoning was simple, at the time: if it was a 3 or a 4 I'd count it as a critical hit because that's awesome. So therefore, a critical failure must be possible. Also Basic Set: Campaigns (see p. B392) called this 9 or less an attack roll, and attack rolls are attack rolls in my opinion.

One of my players argued this puts a PC who is potentially hitting himself in double jeopardy - don't roll a 9 or less or roll a 17 or 18. Seems unfair.

I totally see his point. But it's not the most common case. PCs trying to hit into close combat on something grabbing onto them happens infrequently, and swinging your axe at one isn't really a good idea at all. I can't see why that shouldn't have lots of potentially bad consequences.

Does this mean you can Critically Miss on a bow shot that is potentially Hitting the Wrong Target? Yes, but it's effectively meaningless to the shooter. So I don't see why I'd have to check for a broken string or a dropped bow just because I'd do so for a melee weapon. It's not the only way melee and missile combat aren't the same.

So did I make the right call? Maybe. But I'll stand by it and I'll continue to play it that way. I think it fits the game I'm running and its style.


  1. Bah, I think it was the right call. Attack rolls should always have Crit Failure chances and Attacking Into Close Combat always comes with it's own //additional// drawbacks.

  2. Seems fair, but I'm asking myself what would be a critical success on not hitting yourself?

    1. You're not rolling to not hit yourself. You're rolling to hit yourself, and hoping you don't. A critical hit is an especially good hit, not an especially good result.

    2. "You're rolling to hit yourself, and hoping you don't."
      Wait... what?

      That's not how I'd come at this at all...

      In this case, Crogar wasn't rolling to "not hit himself", he was rolling to hit his /foe/, which being in Close Combat meant that if he missed his foe he has a chance of hitting the other thing his foe is fighting... which happened to be Crogar himself.

      If the fly had been Close Combating any of his companions, a miss would have the chance of hitting them. Likewise if the fly were in CC with an enemy of the party, a miss might have the chance of hitting the other enemy. Which I doubt the party would have even batted an eye over.

      In this case the Critical Failure just overwrites the normal chance to hit the "wrong target" on a miss when striking into Close Combat. On a roll of 14 on the Crit Chart he even had the chance of hitting someone completely different!

      I'm having a hard time envisioning the need to ever roll "to not hit yourself". (Baring comedic 'forced self attacks' via grappling aside, "Stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself...")


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