Saturday, August 22, 2015

D&D 5E - Player Facing Critical Success Options

Somehow, while talking about D&D 5E combat, and our dissatisfaction thereof, Thomas and I started talking about Critical Hits. I mentioned that I found it easy to make Hard GM Moves (ala Powered by the Apocalypse Games) when a player rolls a Natural 1 or Critical Failure (or conversely, when a monster rolls a critical hit) but I didn't have as satisfying a solution for when players roll a Natural 20 or Critical Success. We decided to each tackle the problem separately, each writing our own blog post without consulting the other to see the different strategies we'd come up with. Naturally, we could help but bend that rule a little bit in our conversations over the next few days but for the most part we kept mum on our plans, so neither of us have seen what the other is proposing. We're considering other cross-blog shenanigans in the future, so this is a bit of a test.

Here's his take: Gussying up monsters (the Ogre!) and crits and mine is below the jump... (and my comments on Thomas' take can be found here)

First, my current practices, hereafter referred to as Standard Options.

  • For non-combat rolls I generally narrate a better than normal success on a critical success. If a player chimes in and proposes or narrates their own exceptional success, I generally go for it, unless they push it past the boundary of what I think is reasonable.
  • For attack rolls I give the player the option of Maximum damage or rolling double the amount of damage dice.
    • So, Sgt Amelia, a fighter with a Longsword (1d10) in both hands and a +3 STR mod, can chose to do 13 damage (MAX) or roll 2d10 and add her +3 to the result, doing anywhere from 5-23 damage (DOUBLE DICE).
    • The wizard Melvarr, on the other hand, hitting with Melf's Acid Arrow (4d4) could do 16 points of damage (MAX) or roll 8d4 and do 8-32 damage (DOUBLE DICE).
Below is my draft of tables for players to either roll a d6 on or choose (not sure which) for when they have a Critical Success on the following:
  • Melee Weapon Attack
  • Ranged Weapon Attack
  • Arcane Magic Attack
  • Divine Magic Attack
  • Non-Attack Roll 
These 5 rolls seemed distinct enough in my mind that I wanted to provide separate options for each. The options I give on the tables below would be in place of my current practices, with the idea that the extraordinary non-attack roll success and extra damage options above would always be available for a player to choose but that the tables below would provide additional options in lieu of the standard options above.

These tables are also very much rough or working drafts as I through them together in a little over a day, trying to come up with things that were interesting to me. I fully expect that some of the weapon options might encroach on the maneuvers of the Battle Master fighter build or that some of the arcane magic options might tread on the toes of the Sorcerer Metamagic or even the Warlock invocation options because, to be honest, I didn't double check. I expect to revisit these after I see what Thomas dreamt up and/or after giving them a try. One thing I know out of the gates is that I'm not certain I needed to include the extra d4 of damage where I left extra damage. I also make no guarantee that the options below are in anyway, shape or form balanced. With all those caveats, behold, a bunch of d6 tables that you can let players roll on or choose from when they have a Critical Success in D&D 5E (or other Fantasy Heartbreaker games, I suppose, though they were designed with 5E in mind)

Melee Weapon
  1. Knock the Wind out of them – Knock the target enemy back 5’ and prevent them from making reactions until the start of their next turn.
  2. Wide Swing – Make a free melee attack against an enemy adjacent to the original target.
  3. Trip ‘em Up – Target enemy is knocked prone and you can spend your Reaction to make an opportunity attack when they get up.
  4. Break Armor – deal 1d4 extra DMG and break a piece of their armor, shield or natural defense and give them an ongoing -1 to their AC.
  5. War Cry – Cry havoc, deal 1d4 extra DMG to the target and all enemies within 20’ of your target must make a Wisdom saving throw or be Frightened. The DC of the save is 8+PROF bonus + the highest of your STR, DEX and CON modifiers. This has no effect on creatures who are immune to the Frightened condition.
  6. Mark for Doom – deal 1d4 additional DMG and expand your Crit range by 1 against the target for the remainder of the combat.
Ranged Weapon
  1. Pin them in Place – Prevent them from taking any movement (with the exception of teleportation) until they take a Move action to pull free.
  2. Piercing Shot – Make a second free attack against a second enemy in the same line of fire as your missile either pierces an enemy in front of your original target or behind your original target.
  3. Rapid Reload – Make a free reload or ranged attack action with the same weapon. Throwing a second weapon of the same type counts for this.
  4. My Eyes! – Deal extra DMG equal to your LVL and give target disadvantage on Attack Rolls and Perception checks.
  5. Drop It! – Deal 1d4 extra DMG and the target drops an item of your choice.
  6. Shot to the Knees – Deal 1d4 extra DMG and the target is slowed for the remainder of the combat.
Arcane Magic
  1. Incredible Burst – If your spell targeted one or two enemies, deal DMG equal to twice the spell level to other enemies within 20’ of the original targets, 1 pt of damage for cantrips.
  2. Targeted Blast – If your spell targeted more than two enemies, deal 2d4 DMG additional to a single enemy who was among the original targets
  3. Armor Spell – Keeping some of the spell’s unexpected energy around you, deal 2d4 DMG of the same type of the spell to the next enemy to deal DMG to you before the end of the combat.
  4. Environmental Effect – The spell creates an environmental effect based on the DMG type it does. Negotiate with the DM for the exact effect. The environmental effect lasts for the remainder of the combat.
  5. Terrifying Spell - deal 1d4 extra DMG to a single target and enemies within 20’ of that target must make a Wisdom saving throw against your spell DC or be frightened. This has no effect on creatures who are immune to the Frightened condition.
  6. Stunning Spell – Stun a single target of the spell until the start of your next turn.
Divine Magic
  1. Healing Burst – 1d4+1 Allies within 20’ of the target can spend one of their HD as a free action.
  2. Divine Wrath – Deal 1d4 additional DMG and you can have all the DMG be Radiant or another DMG type associated with your deity in addition to the standard DMG type.
  3. Fated for Destruction – Until the start of your next turn allies do extra DMG to a single enemy targeted by the spell equal to 1d4.
  4. Fear of the Gods - deal 1d4 extra DMG to a single target and enemies within 20’ of that target must make a Wisdom saving throw against your spell DC or be frightened. This has no effect on creatures who are immune to the Frightened condition.
  5. Stunning Spell – Stun a single target of the spell until the start of your next turn.
  6. Divine Favor – deal 1d4 extra DMG to a single target of the spell and give 1d4+1 allies within 30’ of the target Advantage on their next roll.
Non-Attack Rolls
  1. Inspired Confidence - You get advantage on your next die roll.
  2. Inspire Allies - Your allies get advantage on any rolls for the same task/check that you made your critical success on.
  3. Never Been Better! - Spend a HD if you want as a free action.
  4. Incredible Insight - Ask the DM 3 questions that relate to the situation that caused you to make the roll (not limited to uses of the Insight skill, but can be applied on any critical success).
  5. And My Friend Does Too - Give a single allie an automatic, but normal, success on the same task/check that you made your critical success on.
  6. I’ll Remember This Next Time - Gain advantage on the next check you make for the next time you attempt this same task/make the same check. That is, advantage the next time you leap a gorge if you had a critical success on a jump roll or the next time you make a saving throw against poison gas if you had a critical success against a green dragon’s breath weapon. It’s at the DM’s discretion as to what counts as the “same task/check” but some leniency is encouraged.
Comments and suggestions are extremely welcome.

1 comment:

  1. This is all amazingly crunchy for you. I like how we kinda switched roles here and you came up with more crunchy/immediately useable stuff.

    Though some of these effects seem rather potent, so I'd be more inclined to enforce the table roll than let PCs choose.


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