Over the many years I've played D&D in various editions, I've tried various different critical hit and fumble schemes. Lately, our group has been using the Paizo Critical Hit and Fumble decks, but unfortunately, I've become increasingly disenchanted by these decks.

Here is a brief description of my problems with the Paizo Crit/Fumble decks:

**Flat Random Chance**- once you confirm a crit or fumble you have a flat 1 in 52 chance of getting any of the effects. It doesn't take into account the ability of either the attacker or the defender. Why should a level 1 commoner have the same chance of decapitating a foe as a 20th level Fighter? And why should a goblin have the same chance as a dragon for getting decapitated?**Effects aren't as good as double damage**- most times when you pull a card from the crit deck, double damage is almost always better for PCs. Unless you are fighting the BBEG (big bad evil guy), most foes aren't going to last more than a round or two -- any condition you apply will be less effective than just wearing it down with more damage.**Card descriptions rarely makes sense**- this is a minor quibble, but it just seems that the descriptions don't make sense. "Tendon Damage" doesn't make sense against a Skeleton. Only the effect should be listed (e.g. "1/2 speed for X rounds"), and we could come up with the description ("You knocked the foot off the skeleton" or "You sliced the hamstring on the dragon"). This is also a problem with all the 1e/2e anatomy based crit charts, btw. When you are battling foes who are non-human (or non-anthropomorphic!) most of the time, it's preposterous to have a system based on human anatomy.**X3/x4 Weapons shafted**- currently, x3 weapons get to draw an extra card from the Crit Deck and choose the best one. Even with 2 cards to choose from, triple damage is almost always the better option. The situation is even more pronounced with x4 weapons.**Wasted 20's**- Is there anything worse than rolling a '20', failing the confirmation roll, and then getting a crappy roll on damage? It's such a let down. Admittedly, this is a problem with the confirmation system and not the Crit Deck, but all '20's should be exciting, even ones that don't confirm. And all '1's should be scary!

My proposed Crit/Fumble system attempts to fix all these issues. It gives skilled combatants a better chance to crit and avoid fumbles. It also sorts crit effects so that a combatant's skill determines how brutal the crit is instead of just a flat random roll/draw. Further, even on failed confirmation rolls, you will do the max damage from your weapon, making all 20's exciting.

When attacking, if the unmodified "natural" value shown on the die is within the crit range of the attacker's weapon, the attacker may have made a critical hit. Similarly, if value on the die is a natural '1', then the attacker may have fumbled. Roll a second time, using the exact same modifiers from the initial roll, to see if the fumble or critical "confirmed". Consult the Hit Category table below to determine the exact type of critical hit or fumble.

Category | Attack Roll | Confirmation Roll | Effect |
---|---|---|---|

Critical Smash | CRIT | 20 | Crit multipler * Weapon Max Damage and +20 Critical Roll |

Smash | CRIT | Hit | Max Damage + (Crit Multiplier * Weapon Max Damage) and Critcal Roll |

Critical Hit | CRIT | Miss | Max Damage, no Critical Roll |

Hit | CRIT | 1 | Normal Damage Roll |

Hit | - | ||

Miss | Miss | - | No Damage Roll |

1 | 20 | ||

Stumble | 1 | Hit | +40 Fumble Roll |

Fumble | 1 | Miss | +20 Fumble Roll |

Catastrophe | 1 | 1 | Fumble Roll |

- If you can't hit on a value in your crit range, it doesn't count for a hit or a crit. For example, if you wielding a scimitar with a 18-20 crit range, but can only hit your foe on a 19, you don't crit or hit if you get an 18. This is actually straight from the Core Rules (and was true as far back as 3.0).
**Ricksecker Rule**- if you can only hit a foe on a 20, using the table above, you can't get a Smash, only a Critical Smash, Critical Hit, or a Normal Hit. That doesn't make sense. If your foe so overpowers you that you can only hit on a 20, than a confirmation roll of 20 moves you down to just a Smash. Years ago, I had a similar system in effect and a player objected when a goblin got a Critical Smash against his heavily armored level 10 Paladin.- This rule is also in effect for Fumbles. If you can only miss on a 1, then a Confirmation Roll of a 1 is just a Fumble and not a Catastrophe. This models the case where a high-powered PC is fighting a goblin. Her training prevents her from Catastrophes (but not Fumbles or Stumbles) when totally overpowering foes.

When an attacker confirms either a Smash or a Critical Smash, there is a chance he inflicts a Critical Effect in addition to extra damage. To do determine what Critical Effect, if any, an attacker might have inflicted, make a Critical Effect Roll, and consult the Critical Effect table.

The effects in the Critical Effect Table are sorted so that the most damaging entries require a high roll. The "best" effects are not acheivable in most circumstances. The attacker either has to vastly overpower the defender or have rolled a Critical Smash to get the extra +20 to the Critical Effect Roll.

Similarly, if the attacker and defender are evenly matched, there is a 50% chance that a Smash will not inflict any Critical Effect at all.

x3/x4 Weapons get a +5/+10 bonus when rolling on this table.

Critical Effect Roll: d20 + Attack Bonus - Defenders's AC (+20 for Critical Smash)(+5/+10 for x3/x4 Weapons) | |
---|---|

Die Roll | Effect |

>=40 | Roll 3 times for Critical Effects |

39 | Roll 2 times for Critical Effects |

38 | Bleed Con 2 |

37 | Unconscious |

36 | Stunned for 1d4+1 rounds |

35 | Random Ability Drain 1d6 |

34 | Bleed Con 1 |

33 | Blinded |

32 | Confused for 1d4 rounds |

31 | Nauseated for 1d4 rounds |

30 | Exhausted for 1d4 rounds |

29 | Free Combat Maneuver Attempt +8 |

28 | Knocked Prone |

27 | Roll twice for non-lethal damage |

26 | Crippled - Movement reduced to 5' |

25 | AoO from all Threatening Opponents |

24 | Bleed 1d4+1 |

23 | Staggered for 1d4 rounds |

22 | Random Ability Damage 1d6 |

21 | Knockback d20+5 feet |

20 | Stunned for 1 round |

19 | Fatigued for 1d4 rounds |

18 | Dumbness |

17 | Free Combat Maneuver Attempt |

16 | Free Attack at -5 |

15 | Partial Blindness (20% miss chance) for 1d4 rounds |

14 | Bleed 2 |

13 | Sickened for 1d4 rounds |

12 | Crippled - Movement Reduced by 1/2 |

11 | Roll for Non-lethal Damage |

10 | Flatfooted for 1 round |

9 | Deafened for 1d4 rounds |

8 | Damage weapon, armor or shield (ignore hardness) |

7 | Drop all held items |

6 | Dazed for 1 round |

5 | AC -2 for 1 round |

4 | Bleed 1 |

3 | Off Balance for 1d4+1 rounds (No ability bonus on Attacks, No AoOs) |

2 | Dazzled for 1d4 rounds |

1 | Off Balance for 1 round (No ability bonus on Attacks, No AoOs) |

=<0 | No Critical Effect |

When an attacker confirms a Stumble, Fumble or Catastrophe, there is a chance she might suffer a damaging condition. To determine what effect she might suffer, make a Fumble roll and consult the Fumble table. If you rolling for a Stumble or a Fumble you get a bonus on this roll (+40 and +20 respectively).

For consistencies sake, the table is sorted so that the higher values are beneficial and low rolls are increasingly bad to the attacker. (As the attacker, you *always* want to roll high.)

The chances for an Attacker to avoid any effect at all from a Stumble are exactly the same as her to hit roll. The worst effect on the Fumble table are impossible to roll unless the Defender vastly overpowers the Attacker, or if the Attacker rolled a Catastrophe (1 in 400 chance). A level 1 Warrior fighting an Ancient Dragon has a much greater chance of a bad outcome than a level 20 Paladin fighting an unleveled Kobold.

Fumble Roll: d20 + Attack Bonus - Defender's AC (+40/20 for Stumble/Fumble) | |
---|---|

Die Roll | Effect |

>=40 | No Effect |

39 | Dazzled for 1d4 rounds |

38 | Off Balance for 1 round (No ability bonus on Attacks, No AoOs) |

37 | -2 Attack Penalty for 1 round |

36 | -2 AC penalty for 1 round |

35 | Dazed for 1 round |

34 | Drop held items and/or Ammo (1d6 rounds to pick up Ammo) |

33 | Entangled in Equipment (1 standard action to free self) |

32 | Damage Weapon |

31 | Damage Armor |

30 | Damage Self(Non-Lethal) |

29 | Flatfooted for 1 round |

28 | Crippled - Movement reduced by 1/2 |

27 | Sickened for 1d4 rounds |

26 | Partial Blindness (20% miss chance) for 1d4 rounds |

25 | Damage Self |

24 | Fatigued for 1d4 rounds |

23 | Provoke AoO from all Threatening Opponents |

22 | Knocked Prone |

21 | Fling Weapon (1d8 direction, 1d20 distance, damage first person hit, 1-5 is you!) |

20 | Damage Self + Bleed 1 |

19 | Hit Random Adjacent Ally |

18 | Staggered for 1 round |

17 | Crippled - movement reduced to 5' |

16 | Confused for 1 round |

15 | Critical Hit Self |

14 | Nauseated for 1 round |

13 | Blinded |

12 | Staggered for 1d4+1 rounds |

11 | Exhausted for 1d4+1 rounds |

10 | Smash Self |

9 | Stunned for 1 round |

8 | Confused for 1d4 rounds |

7 | Nauseatedfor 1d4 rounds |

6 | Knocked Prone + Stunned for 1 round |

5 | Critical Smash Self |

4 | Stunned 1d4+1 rounds |

3 | Unconscious |

2 | Roll 2 times |

<=1 | Roll 3 times |