All the criticals

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MysticTemplar
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Re: All the criticals

Postby MysticTemplar » Mon Oct 07, 2013 8:27 pm

As a DM and a player, I've always found critical failure on a one to be kind of a silly concept.

After all, if your fighter spends years of his life advancing twenty levels in the class, he's suddenly way more likely to drop his weapon than a new fighter out on his first adventure! (Given iteratives, and the increased chances of rolling a one on a flat distribution curve.)

Which I've always found to be the number one argument against any sort of critical miss rule - They tend to penalize highly skilled melee combatants more than less skilled counterparts, which is both ridiculous and counter intuitive.

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Jynnx
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Re: All the criticals

Postby Jynnx » Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:45 pm

MysticTemplar wrote:As a DM and a player, I've always found critical failure on a one to be kind of a silly concept.

After all, if your fighter spends years of his life advancing twenty levels in the class, he's suddenly way more likely to drop his weapon than a new fighter out on his first adventure! (Given iteratives, and the increased chances of rolling a one on a flat distribution curve.)

Which I've always found to be the number one argument against any sort of critical miss rule - They tend to penalize highly skilled melee combatants more than less skilled counterparts, which is both ridiculous and counter intuitive.


You know, I've been thinking about this recently, actually.

Every time a discussion about critical hits comes up, and thoughts turn towards concepts such as alternative effects, the realism of the critical hit system, and even just what it implies about any given character's martial talent, this argument seems to crop up. But after doing some thinking, I'm not so sure it's the "discussion-ender" some people might seem to think.

Ultimately, your character's skill in combat is irrelevant.

That's right. You read that correctly - you're welcome to go back and read that last comment again just to make sure, if anyone feels the need for a double take.

Ultimately, your character's skill in combat is irrelevant. Your twentieth level barbarian, with her +20 base attack bonus and +10 Str bonus, et cetera, et cetera. All those numbers are irrelevant, because they don't exist in a vacuum. And neither do the characters whose martial prowess they represent.

When you're standing in a battle, there is no such thing as lawful and orderly conduct. Get into a bar brawl, and tell me that your enemies stood in neat, five-foot squares and patiently waited for you to take a full turn's worth of actions before they swung a nonlethal (yeah, right!) fist at you. I don't think I need to press this point, but that's not what they're going to be doing - they're going to be bum rushing you, swinging wildly for your vital areas, ducking and weaving from your own blows - and attempting to remove the threat that you pose to them by whatever means are at hand. And that's just in something as small as a pub scuffle; anywhere from a couple of drunken sods to a couple dozen poor bastards, depending on the size of the establishment. Now take those same principles to something like a mass battlefield, where you are literally surrounded at virtually all times by potential threats who are all going to be trying to remove you as a threat.

What, ultimately, does this mean? Your enemies aren't going to simply dodge, duck, weave, and roll. They aren't going to be nice guys about your screw ups and let you recover before pressing forward with the attack. Well, admittedly, some very well may be such noble and chivalrous foes - but in lethal combat, noble spirits tend to double up as martyrs real quick, if you're buyin' what I'm sellin' here.

So does that critical failure mean your expertly trained fighter bumbled yet another breezy pass? Sure, if you have no imagination and lack the motivation to simply role-play your roll-playing. When my level twenty fighter draws a critical failure card and ends up dropping his weapon from it? He didn't just take a swing and a miss. His violent swing narrowly scrapped against the enemy's armor, only to get caught between a couple of plates. Or, in a bout of frustration at missing an enemy, he threw his weapon to the ground in an act not too dissimilar from a simple temper tantrum before realizing with a cold pit in his stomach the depth of that mistake. Or his opponent ducked and twisted underneath the swing, catching my fighter's wrist in their grip and twisting it backwards, forcing him to drop his weapon with the sudden pain and numbness in his hand. Or any other number of virtually infinite examples, given whatever the current circumstances of a given combat might be.

Remember, complexity in a table-top role-playing game - by the very definition of this hobby we all know and love - does not equate to faithful reproduction of the real world. There are so many factors, variables, and forces that play on something as simple as walking down the street that a role-playing game could never hope to include them all. The core rulebook alone would dwarf every series of the Encyclopedia Britannica combined! Not to mention that there are so many forces we simply don't fully understand yet.

This is true no matter what game you're playing. Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Rifts, BESM, Vampire: The Masquerade, GURPS - it doesn't matter. These games are meant to be platforms for story telling. They are abstractions, not simulations.
Let me sleep through this time of pain,
And grant me innocent dreams.
Rouse me during the first summer rain,
When all the world's at peace, it seems.

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Solitary Performance
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Re: All the criticals

Postby Solitary Performance » Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:08 pm

Jynnx wrote:So does that critical failure mean your expertly trained fighter bumbled yet another breezy pass? Sure, if you have no imagination and lack the motivation to simply role-play your roll-playing. When my level twenty fighter draws a critical failure card and ends up dropping his weapon from it? He didn't just take a swing and a miss. His violent swing narrowly scrapped against the enemy's armor, only to get caught between a couple of plates. Or, in a bout of frustration at missing an enemy, he threw his weapon to the ground in an act not too dissimilar from a simple temper tantrum before realizing with a cold pit in his stomach the depth of that mistake. Or his opponent ducked and twisted underneath the swing, catching my fighter's wrist in their grip and twisting it backwards, forcing him to drop his weapon with the sudden pain and numbness in his hand. Or any other number of virtually infinite examples, given whatever the current circumstances of a given combat might be.


Had to quote the section that made me think on this the most. Part of me wants to jump on the 'crit fail is bad' bandwagon, but another part of me has started to take hold of this section I quoted as a good reason why to keep crit fail. Even the burliest of barbarians, the most trained of fighters, or the most dexterous of rogues have an off day. And for those who think their characters can do no wrong, consider blaming the tools used; a nat1/crit fail for your crossbow could be the string catching on an imperfection part way along. A 1 on a bow could be you slipping with the arrow, or the string catching on your bracer when you let go. Just as the novice level 1 has days where he can take on the world, so too does the expert level 20+ have days where nothing goes right.

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David
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Re: All the criticals

Postby David » Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:37 pm

Isn't that what the existing mechanic is for? Most objection goes towards the 'extra' crit tables that turn it away from 'you miss' to 'you shot yourself' and 'you broke your weapon'.

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Jynnx
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Re: All the criticals

Postby Jynnx » Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:55 pm

David wrote:Isn't that what the existing mechanic is for? Most objection goes towards the 'extra' crit tables that turn it away from 'you miss' to 'you shot yourself' and 'you broke your weapon'.


Yet a majority of players who entrench themselves into hardline positions against such things tend to have no problem benefiting from critical hit tables that let their mundane attacks leave an enemy stunned, or bleeding to death, or with a crushed larynx incapable of speech. Checks and balances, methinks. ;)

Back to seriousness, though.

*shrugs*

I guess at the end of the day, it just doesn't bother me if my character has the best training in the world and still fumbles 5% of his attacks. Not only does that leave 95% of attacks that are either successful or simple misses, but I also have no choice but to face certain facts here - my character isn't rolling a die to determine whether that attack was successful or failed. I am. And when using a system that relies on a random chance generator as its core method of resolving any given situation, you're going to have really great results, mediocre/average results, and some real suckage.

Even without an "additional effects" table, a critical miss isn't just "you miss." It's, "you done goofed." It's a failure so spectacular that it even *gets* it's own name, as opposed to just "a miss." In a combat situation, my enemy isn't going to be nice and let me recover from that - they are going to press the advantage. In a real fight, you don't want to make it a war of attrition, because you don't know what the other guy can dish out or take before losing credibility as a threat. You *make* him lose credibility as a threat. If I overextend myself on a swing, my enemy is going to go out of his way to bat my weapon out of my already weakened grip.

Or twist my arm around and fling that momentum back at me, until I find out what cold steel *actually* tastes like. ;)

Because, ultimately, that's what's being represented by the combat system. Just like you aren't standing in neat rows waiting for your turn to attack - you're character is constantly dodging around, avoiding bows, twisting his or her head around to keep a vigilant eye on the fight unfolding around them, and the like. Your enemies are constantly out trying to disarm you, distract you, or otherwise weaken the strength of your position - even if they aren't actively taking actions during their turn to do so.

To repeat what I think is the most important aspect of the entire gaming process - abstraction, not simulation. The effects of a critical hit/critical miss system are simply a way of expanding on that abstraction, by allowing yourself and your enemies to resolve background actions that have little to no effect EXCEPT on that lucky go.
Let me sleep through this time of pain,
And grant me innocent dreams.
Rouse me during the first summer rain,
When all the world's at peace, it seems.

* * *

Watch Jynnxed TV on YouTube!

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David
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Re: All the criticals

Postby David » Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:16 pm

Or it could be as simple as the opening you thought you saw, wasn't, or by the time you noticed it, it was gone. How you roleplay missing is entirely up to you and your crew.


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