Monday, April 22, 2024

DF Felltower: What if all critical hits did max damage?

In Felltower, we use a little rule buried in the back of Basic Set: Characters (p. B326) that makes critical hits just bypass defenses, no table roll, and a "3" is max damage.

One way I thought of speeding combat - thanks to additional lethality - is to make all critical hits maximum damage. Roll a 3-4, or a 5 or a 6 with sufficient skill (or a 7 for some templates) and bang, max damage and bypass defenses.

This would add a lot of lethality to combat when the big boys roll a 3-6. Less so when others do . . . but make wizards really happy when they nail a crit on an Explosive spell thrown at an actual person.*

It wouldn't help fodder much, but at least sometimes they'd manage to hurt someone.

It would make boss monsters really, really scary. You can't get critically hit and luck out with a low damage roll against you. A giant doing 6d+12 or something would just flat out do 48 damage and that's that.

I don't think my players would go for this but part of me wants to try it. I think it would increase the bloodbath of combats and certainly erase a few foes here and there much more quickly.

* I joke. They all take the +4 for targeting the floor that I find totally bogus, but accept as a rule.


  1. Would you balance it with equally even-handed disasters when a critical fail is rolled on a 17 or 18?

    1. No, because it's balanced by enemies doing max damage on all criticals.

  2. I ran GURPS all crits max damage for years, I like it. I don't like the table

    1. Good to know I wouldn't be trying something totally new. No complaints with it, then?

  3. I don't like the crit table at all, because "Yay a Crit!" is often followed by "no extra effect" which sux.

    On the other hand, "no defenses" also annoys me, because it marginalizes defense reliant builds, which are otherwise fun.

    I think next time I GURPS Ima do something like this:
    1. Crits are max damage.
    2. Defenses vs. a crit are at -5.
    3. On a nat 3, these are (max damage x 2) and -10.

    But I understand your goal is to make combat faster, so I doubt you'll break this way.

    1. Mostly because, for me, this is a benefit: "it marginalizes defense reliant builds"

      Pretty much "defense reliant build" is the default in my games. People want to start out of the gate with a minimum 16+ Block and Parry, or Parry and Parry, and really prefer 20+ to deal with Deceptive Attack and stacking penalties for multiple defenses, not counting Retreat or Shield spells. Crits are the majority of the hits that threaten to cause damage to PCs in my games, unless bad circumstances have already lowered defenses. So giving a penalty to defend against criticals just encourages people to buy 5 more points worth of a defense to reduce your suggested penalties to -0/-5, because some version of "we have to, in order to survive."

  4. I kind of like not having crits cause max damage every time, because it would, in the end, kill a lot of characters. I mean, if the baddies were doing 2d+2 cut or 3d-1 cut, that's one thing. But a crit from a bad guy doing 4d+4 or more, and the most people can realistically get for DR is maybe 10 to 12? That's around 20 cut, dealing 30 injury? Yikes.

    And, of course, the issue isn't so much the front liners, but the squishies who have maybe 4 DR and 12 HP. 28 cut, DR reduces to 24, that multiplies to 36? OK, instantly make 2 death checks.

    Something like that might happen ANYWAY, but man, it's bad enough you don't get a defense. No defense AND max damage? That's appropriate for a 3, which is what we do now. But on a Draug who's rolling against a 16 and can crit fish? No thanks!

    1. I understand that. But a lot of the reason why 2d+2 or 3d-1 seems okay but 4d+4 doesn't is because it's not terrifically hard to get DR 10-14, even on "squishies." A lot of why so many monsters do such high damage is because it's so hard to penetrate the defenses of PCs, and then it's very hard to actually hurt them when you do.

      It would make buying Luck and saving it to negate criticals an important survival strategy.

    2. Yeah, if that campaign switch was on, Luck would almost be de facto for most delvers, and swashbucklers should instantly get the higher version.

      There are definitely times when I feel like more monsters should have lower damage, higher skill, and penetrating weapons like Crystal Rat-Men. An armor divisor if 2 isn't exactly making high DR guys quake in their boots, but a few 1d+1 cut hits with an armor divisor of 2 threatens them *and* threatens the lighter-armored guys. A 6 damage impaling attack with an armor divisor of 2 is still far more threatening to the DR 2 wizard with 10 hp (10 injury, bad situation) but the DR 6 knight with 15 or 20 hp is still taking a shot and taking 6 injury as opposed to zero.

      Of course, higher skill means more parries, longer combats, etc.

  5. Related: I do like the table, it does slow things down sometimes, and it is annoying to get "normal damage." But it can be fun.

    I will say that I hate the critical miss table and would love something that was more like, roll a d6, on an odd number, you drop your weapon, on an even number, you stumble, make a DX roll to stay up, and you have -2 to defenses next turn. Simple, easy, bam.

    And no "I rolled a 15 and now can't use my freaking sword arm for THIRTY MINUTES." That result is pretty much what led to some bad decision-making and a TPK in the cone-hatted cultists lair.

    1. Here is our suggested table from today's game chatter:
      1d roll.
      1: Hit your friend, full damage. If no friend is close, hit yourself, full damage.
      2: Strain your shoulder.
      3: Drop your weapon.
      4: Drop your weapon.
      5: Strain your shoulder.
      6: Strain your shoulder, drop your weapon on your foot for full damage.

      Optionally, for certain PCs, 3 and 4 should also strain your shoulder.


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