Criticals

Cubicle 7 // 2018
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Chuck
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Tue May 28, 2019 4:28 pm

So I've been thinking for a while now about redoing the Critical Hits for 4e like I did for 2e (blunt, edged, arrows, firearms, etc) but the system has changed quite a bit. What does everyone make of the new critical system? It's one aspect of 4e I haven't heard a whole lot of debate about.
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Orin J.
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Tue May 28, 2019 7:59 pm

my assessment is it renders a fair amount of strategy moot, as even if an enemy has enough durability (toughness, wounds bonuses, regen) you can simply fish for criticals, which discurages any kind of tactical play against larger monsters since once you meet your allotment for crits, off to morr's terlit with you. being tied to an effectively random 10% chance every hit* also reduces tactical options since a crit is near always worth trying to land over stuns or other maneuvers you might think of.

the whole "crits are what kills you and armor is how you soak crits" is also a major issue, but i'm sure zapp is somewhere frothing to vert his ire there so i'll leave him to it.

*assuming you don't also crit on doubles, in which case the gum wrapper estimate puts the odds of a crit at over 20% due to overlap...
Jakhtur
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Wed May 29, 2019 1:38 am

In my group we decided that the rule that the -20 modifer for critical works only when HP goes down to 0 but without "excess" is bad, and we house-ruled that also critics during fight (on doubles etc) will have such modifer (on the other hand - if HP goes to 0 every critic will be "normal"). The good side is that you dont risk going dead from a random stone that a stupid goblin threw at you. You dont need to use armor mechanic to prevent it. Critics can still be nasty but nothing like losing limb from the very first lucky shot. The downside is that fight is a bit safer and manageble. Still few lucky shots can cripple every player, and i prefer it this way. If you play with the rules about 20% of arrows will deliver critics (impale ability) its just a matter of time when a lucky shot would kil you, and "defending every crit with armor" is not fun at all from the role playing point of view.
CapnZapp
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Wed May 29, 2019 1:45 am

Lol. Just because you said that I shall rise to the challenge and attempt to respond in a neutral manner.

First off, I'm assuming you're talking about https://www.windsofchaos.com/?page_id=19 That is, the thing you've changed is that you've basically added more results and categorized them according to damage. You're not sliced open if the enemy uses a club, and so on. (That is: Have I missed anything? Your documents doesn't have any "designer notes". I see you have fifteen crits per table, but I'm guessing that's just to have more painful ways to die. Did you change the "curve", the lethality? If so, how and why, assuming that's something you're looking to replicate now?)

First order of business is that the 4E crit tables, when viewed through actual play experience, feel very overwrought. They attempt to do two two completely separate things. And they are very fiddly, very very fiddly indeed. (Yes, it's another case of where each individual change or addition is quite understandable viewed in isolation, only that the multitude of all these changes taken together makes it hugely complicated and even works against each other) The end summary is that they completely lost sight of what crits do and what makes them fun to use.

The crit tables are 1) used to spice up ongoing combat through essentially random effects and 2) as combat enders that cripple your opponent, allowing the winner to move on.

Problems:
a) the "spice" effects take lots of time to resolve - it's the full critical experience. This is (at least somewhat) justified when it comes to the combat enders, precisely because they end combats. That is, they happen once or twice (at least, they're supposed to - see b) per enemy. Using the crit tables for spice effects means the table look-up and the conditions modifiers game (etc etc) explode, significantly rolling back any time gains from other aspects of the game.
b) most crits aren't particularly deadly, I'm afraid. Mostly they just add clutter and admin. Sure, you have -10 to this and -20 to that, but unless you feel you can give up and live, you will fight on to the bitter end. It's only the results above 80 or so that feel like the crits of old. If you roll lower, all the other changes like advantage and how careers work and circumstancial bonuses mean that if you're a capable fighter, you aren't stopped at all from just a crit or three. (The rule that you must track the number of crits is there for a reason. Page 173. That reason is not a good thing) I realize they considered v1 crits too deadly, but this is a good example why you need to be a half-competent designer before you change things.
c) the "but why?" effect, twice over. Why have such detailed rules for this if your armor negates the results? I've promised Orin to not focus on this issue, but the feeling is "first they create all these rules and then they don't use them... but why?" Then, we have...
d) after using the crit tables for a short while, our group went "but why?". It turns out all these effects and details hardly matter at all, simply because you become unconscious when you are out of Wounds and have a Bleeding condition. This instantly pulls the rug out from all the various descriptions and conditions and whatnot. In the majority of cases, you can simply ignore all of that and boil down crits to:

Either it bleeds, and you have won; or it doesn't, and the fight rages on.

Since you can gain bleeding from the "spice results" as well, in not too few cases, all that mattered was to shave off the monster's Wounds, and then it would automatically fall unconscious. (The rules stipulate you become unconscious if you have 0 Wounds, and one or more Bleeding conditions. Page 168).

In other words, yes, the criticism against "the criticals result in way too much die rolling, and way too much admin" can be tempered with "yes, but all of that is hardly ever used". If you want to look at the game with rose-tinted glasses, sure, that's a big positive. Myself, I'm instead going "but why?"

In the next post, I will detail the completely changed crits system we have used, in order to not just "froth and vert" and instead act like an constructive grown-up 8-)
Last edited by CapnZapp on Wed May 29, 2019 2:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
CapnZapp
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Wed May 29, 2019 1:51 am

Here are the design goals for my Criticals overhaul, and then you guys can compare to the book system.

First off, the Bleeding condition completely chucks everything else about the "WFRP criticals experience" out the window, so it needs to be taken out back and shot.

Then, separate "spice effects" (effects sustained while still having Wounds) from "game enders" (the crits we know and love). Not-so-coincidentally, this massively cuts down on extra die rolling and admin during a fight, and it makes the armor issue I'm frothing about evaporate.

Then simplify all the combat conditions so they no longer are horribly impossible to remember and apply.

Finally, make the loss of your Wounds and the Critical that follows the thing to fear in combat, rather than fearing getting zapped out of the blue with a Bleeding condition.

All of this while we salvage the actual crit tables (pending Chuck's make-over, I guess 8-) ): big hits are more deadly than small hits.
Last edited by CapnZapp on Wed May 29, 2019 3:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
CapnZapp
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Wed May 29, 2019 2:12 am

"Spice" effects: When you roll a double, see the Special Hits table (see next post). This makes you lose a few extra Wounds, drop your weapon, or maybe stumble and lose your next action. Next to no complicated modifiers - just something to spice up combat and then keeping up the action.

Criticals: When you go to "negative Wounds" you suffer a "true critical" (ie a result from the crit tables). Ignore the Wound loss column - you're already at 0 Wounds remember. Going deeper below zero is worse than merely going to -1 or -3, so we've come up with a mechanism that's more difficult to explain than to actually use:
  • If the hit takes you to -1 thru -9 generate a random number from 1 to ten times the negative Wounds. Example: you suffer 5 Damage (after armor and toughness) and have 2 Wounds. You're taken to -3 Wounds. Generate a crit from 01-30.
  • If the hit takes you to -11 thru -19 generate a random number from ten times (the negative Wounds - 10) to 00. Example: you suffer 15 Damage (after armor and toughness) and have 2 Wounds. You're taken to -13 Wounds. Generate a crit from 31-00.
So if you're taken to -10 Wounds that means a completely regular 01-100 crit.
If you reach -20 Wounds you're killed instantly and the Deathblow rule is activated. Also see the new Weary condition.

Note that you still never actually stay at negative Wounds, just like you're used to. After resolving a critical, you are always at 0 Wounds.

Conditions:
The big two:

Bleeding: You have as many blood points as you have (maximum) Wounds, and each Bleeding condition makes you lose 1 Blood Point. Only when you run out of BPs do you become Unconscious and start checking for Sudden Death (10% per BP as usual).

No longer is Bleeding hysterically lethal. (Remember that the game and crit tables were originally written with a much less deadly Bleeding condition rule in place, before playtesters forced through a change at the last minute)

Whenever you regain a Wound point, you also regain a Blood point. Feel free to simply say that a good night's rest (or even resting by the campfire for a bit) restores all lost BPs.

Weary (new!): When you are at (or reach) 0 Wounds, you get this condition. You gain a -10% penalty to all actions. Any opponent that attacks you gains a +10% bonus. If you take more damage, the negative Wounds are doubled.

This last bit is important. It means that if you're already at 0 Wounds and take 3 Damage (after Armor and Toughness, as always), you resolve a -6 critical and not a -3 one. This is what ensures that combats end. (If you take 10 or more damage while Weary you're splattered and the enemy gets a Deathblow!)
Last edited by CapnZapp on Wed May 29, 2019 3:15 am, edited 6 times in total.
CapnZapp
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Wed May 29, 2019 2:14 am

Conditions:

All combat conditions, in alphabetical order:
Bleeding: You have as many blood points as you have (maximum) Wounds, and each Bleeding condition makes you lose 1 Blood Point. Only when you run out of BPs do you become Unconscious and start checking for Sudden Death (10% per BP as usual).
Blinded: You gain a -10% penalty to all actions. Any opponent that attacks you gains a +10% bonus.
Deafened: You gain a -10% penalty to all actions. Any opponent that attacks you gains a +10% bonus.
Fatigued: You gain a -10% penalty to all actions.
Prone: You gain a -10% penalty to all actions. You gain a further -20% to Dodge. Movement is set to 1. Any opponent that attacks you in melee gains a +20% bonus.
Stunned: You lose your turn. You gain a -10% penalty to all actions. You gain a further -20% to Parry. You gain a -1 penalty to Movement.
Weary: Whenever you are at 0 Wounds, you have this condition. You gain a -10% penalty to all actions. Any opponent that attacks you gains a +10% bonus. If you take further damage after getting this condition, the negative Wounds are doubled.

Our simplifications to Torn muscles and Broken bones are available upon request.

Other conditions, or aspects of conditions, aren't changed (but don't get me all frothed up on the lousy fear and terror rules!)

Special Hits (this is the post where you will find the pdf ;) )

When you roll a double in combat, and succeed on your Test, you inflict a Special Hit on your opponent, regardless whether you win or lose the Test. Reverse the special hit roll to find out the Hit Location of a Special Hit.

We're only generating special hits on active rolls. That is, when you roll a double on an attack, not on a parry or dodge.
Attachments
WFRP 4 Special Hits.pdf
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CapnZapp
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Wed May 29, 2019 2:34 am

Chuck wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 4:28 pm
So I've been thinking for a while now about redoing the Critical Hits for 4e like I did for 2e (blunt, edged, arrows, firearms, etc) but the system has changed quite a bit. What does everyone make of the new critical system? It's one aspect of 4e I haven't heard a whole lot of debate about.
And so I'm back to your original post.

If I were to hazard my guesses as to why we haven't heard more about this... that not too many players actually play the game and use the crit rules fully. I keep hearing that the devs seems to treat the rules as guidelines to be ignored whenever convenient, so I can see why the devoted fans don't complain about it. It certainly is byzantine enough for it not to be caught by the reviews - you really need to see the system in action before the flaws present themselves.

Anyhoo - if we for the moment ignore everything else, then yes, I'd say writing up separate crit tables for blunt and edged etc is eminently doable, since you simply print them all out* and use the appropriate pamphlet.

The real issue is that, with the rules as written, I honestly don't think it's worth the trouble, since all you're gunning for anyway is getting your foe to Bleed, and voila, the combat is over. (The corollary here is: if you're planning to make, say, Edged weapons cause much more bleeding than, say, Blunt weapons, this is a huge balance issue you need to consider carefully)

So my advice to you is to write your tables with how Bleeding works in mind (regardless of what rule you end up using). And to considerably ramp up the lethality. To mimic your old idea of 15 results, maybe extend the tables to 01-150 and then change the rules to give a +50 bonus somewhere to complement the -20 penalty for "small" hits already in place.

(PS. If you want to lift any or or all of my ideas, feel free.)

*) Yes, even here I'm gonna bitch - the layout of the crit tables is very annoying since it isn't one table per page. My buddy (who came up with the streamlined Conditions) also photoshopped the crit pages so that each table (arm, leg, ...) fits on its own page. He also made a Combat Sheet, a matrix where you can track each combatant and what Conditions they suffer from.
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Chuck
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Wed May 29, 2019 8:56 am

Wow, that is a lot of information to take in.

My initial take was to simply update my old critical hit tables for 4e, but when I read the new critical section and saw how much they changed it from 1st/2nd edition, the amount of effort required made me pause. Each new table now has 20 entries, only one of which (00) actually causes death. I guess I understand what the designers were attempting to do, but I imagine it just flat out doesn't work in play: too many modifiers, too many stacked effects, too many rolls -- one roll to strike, another to generate the crit effect, a third to determine hit location, UGH. Combat is already the worst part of the game for me as a GM, and this new system just looks like a tarpit.

The problem is I haven't actually playtested it to see how it actually works. Maybe it's smooth as silk in practice, but Cap's experiences above don't give me much hope.

Cap, I really like your splitting the critical effects into "spice/fluff" (random crits above 0 Wounds) and "major damage" (earned crits below 0 Wounds). I guess the biggest decision to make right now is do I overhaul the entire crit system or try to keep as close as possible to the rules as written. Either way it's going to be a lot of work.
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totsuzenheni
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Wed May 29, 2019 9:50 am

Chuck wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 8:56 am
[ ... ] too many rolls -- one roll to strike, another to generate the crit effect, a third to determine hit location, UGH.
Not to take this off topic, and without having the rules in front of me here, but couldn't those three rolls be rolled together?
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Chuck
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Wed May 29, 2019 1:59 pm

totsuzenheni wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 9:50 am

Not to take this off topic, and without having the rules in front of me here, but couldn't those three rolls be rolled together?
You could, but if your strike doesn’t generate a critical you’ve wasted 2 of those 3 rolls.
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Orin J.
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Wed May 29, 2019 3:31 pm

Chuck wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 1:59 pm
totsuzenheni wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 9:50 am

Not to take this off topic, and without having the rules in front of me here, but couldn't those three rolls be rolled together?
You could, but if your strike doesn’t generate a critical you’ve wasted 2 of those 3 rolls.
Take the one that'd crit, and use the others as needed! that's how my players would try to do it.

Pricks.
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totsuzenheni
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Wed May 29, 2019 3:48 pm

Chuck wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 1:59 pm
totsuzenheni wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 9:50 am

Not to take this off topic, and without having the rules in front of me here, but couldn't those three rolls be rolled together?
You could, but if your strike doesn’t generate a critical you’ve wasted 2 of those 3 rolls.
Er... well, you know, it's not like the dice die.
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Chuck
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Wed May 29, 2019 3:49 pm

Mine do. They are hurt by every extraneous roll and critically injured by inelegant game design.
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Orin J.
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Wed May 29, 2019 4:00 pm

Chuck wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 3:49 pm
Mine do. They are hurt by every extraneous roll and critically injured by inelegant game design.
What're the made of, salt pork?


actually, that sounds like a great gift for WFRP players. brings some of the aroma of the game to the table, and if your dice aren't lucky, eat 'em!
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Chuck
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Wed May 29, 2019 4:17 pm

Orin J. wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 4:00 pm
Chuck wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 3:49 pm
Mine do. They are hurt by every extraneous roll and critically injured by inelegant game design.
What're the made of, salt pork?
Yes, they’re the wurst!








:mrgreen:
CapnZapp
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Thu May 30, 2019 2:15 am

Chuck wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 8:56 am
I guess the biggest decision to make right now is do I overhaul the entire crit system or try to keep as close as possible to the rules as written.
I can certainly sympathize with that.

Assuming unlimited effort and creativity 8-) what I would do is to keep the system as is, with the possible change of rewording the -20 for fewer negative Wounds than your Toughness Bonus rule to instead say -20 while you have Wounds left.

Then we add a rule giving +50 to the roll when taking more negative Wounds than your TB.

This gives three distinct tiers or ranges of crits:

The 1-50 range. It only happens to "spice" hits. It should be massively simplified - giving no Conditions or admin work whatsoever. Just give effects that you can remember and apply once and then forget about. They should especially not give Bleeding (solving a lot of issues).

Crits above 50 could introduce more serious crits, with a focus on making the foe weaker in combat. Simplicity is still key - use as few Conditions and special rulings as you can per result. Ideally just one each.

Crits above ~80 and up to 150 could and should include all the deliciously nasty, old murderous WFRP style crits we know and love. In particular - sprinkle a few lethal or nearly lethal effects all over (not just at the very top end).

Do note: There needs to be real combat enders for the edition's combats to actually end - so they should not just pile on modifiers and Conditions they should actually cripple your ability to keep on fighting (and just a -40 somewhere does not do that). If you keep Bleeding as per RAW, all results that give off even a single point of Bleeding also shuts down the defender. For this 75-150 range or so, that's a good thing.

As you probably agree, all "severe crits" does not have to kill you or even maim you. The important thing is that enough of them end the fight right here and now, so the attacker can keep moving, and the game isn't dragged down.
CapnZapp
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Thu May 30, 2019 2:26 am

The lesson here is that a crit such as
94-96. Mangled Hand. 5. Your hand is left a mauled, bleeding mess. You lose your hand —Amputation (Hard). Gain 2 Bleeding Condition. Take a Hard (–20) Endurance Test or gain the Stunned and Prone Conditions
isn't just bloated, it's unfocused. Why faff about with Endurance Tests when Bleeding already made you Unconscious?

Something like this would be vastly improved by being direct and to the point, while saving the Tests for the really interesting part: do I lose my hand?
94-96. Mangled Hand. 5. Your hand is left a mauled, bleeding mess. You cannot take actions until you receive Medical Attention. When you do, take a Hard (–20) Endurance Test or the hand must be amputated.
Note how the victim is shut down, no Conditions necessary. The player can still role-play the horror or confusion (Unconscious is probably the least interesting Condition). The test is reserved for something interesting (which you can skip for NPCs).

Of course, you don't need to hear this Chuck - I have full confidence you will do great :)
mormegil
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Thu May 30, 2019 8:26 am

Still Bleeding is the condition that you can stop faster, with just a bandage. Its not as overwhelming as it was before.

Cap, how many rounds a normal fight of equal numbers takes you?
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Yepesnopes
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Thu May 30, 2019 9:29 am

I am really a fan of random crits that can kill our maim a PC or a NPC, I would not change this for only ocurring once you reach 0 wounds.
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