May all your hits be crits…

Recent posts circulating the blog-o-sphere, especially those dealing with Hargrave’s original Arduin, have caught my attention. Zeitgeist seems to have struck again, and people are talking and writing about critical hits and fumbles… some of my favorite things.

Years ago, I remember encountering a very basic critical hit/fumbles table in a Judges Guild Adventure (I think it was called “Dragon Hall” or something similar). We loved it and adopted it immediately. Over the years, we added to it from Runequest and similar games that had critical hit and fumble tables. Years ago I even created one myself (see below). Up until now, this has been on a tattered sheet of notebook paper stuck into my DM’s binder; typing it up represents a big improvement.

One of the advantages of my ‘critical hit’ and ‘critical miss’ tables (if I may toot my own horn a bit) is that better (higher level combatants) are less likely to suffer bad fumbles and more likely to inflict horrendous criticals. However, I like all the possible effects of the Hargrave Arduin table (with noses being chopped off, buttocks being torn off, etc.) so I may try to figure out a way to combine the two. Perhaps when you roll a ’20’ on your critical confirmation roll (in other words, you roll two 20s in a row in an attack routine), I will add a roll from the Hargrave table to the result… which, if someone else has done their math right, means there is a 1 in 400 chance of a Hargrave critical with every attack.

Limpey’s Critical Hits/Fumbles:

Possible crits occur on a roll of 20 on the d20. Possible fumbles occur on a roll of 1 on the d20. Confirm and determine after rolling a 20 or a 1. Player characters with multiple attacks can score more than one critical in a round.*

Critical Hit: On a roll of 20 on the d20, a crit has occured. Have the player roll a d20 and modify the roll as follows:

  • add +1 for every +1 of a magic weapon
  • add +1 for every 3 levels of fighter (or every 3 hit dice of a monster*)
  • add +1 for every 4 levels of cleric or thief
  • add +1 for every 5 levels of magic user

Roll 1d20, add modifier and apply the results below:
01-05 Roll damage as normal
06-10 Roll damage 2x and add any adjustments
11-14 Maximum damage possible
15-16 Roll damage 3x and add any adjustments
17-18 Roll damage 4x and add any adjustments
19-20 Roll damage 5x and add any adjustments

*I did not allow monsters with multiple attacks to score more than one critical in a round, although I did not clue players in on this fact.
**A peek behind my DM screen: after killing a lot of PCs, I began to not add adjustments for hit dice to the roll on crits for most monsters and just used a straight-up d20 roll for monsters, but players still got the bonuses. I didn’t tell the players this because I wanted them to fear the crit!

Limpey’s Fumbles: On a roll of 01 on the d20, a crit has occurred. Have the player roll a d20 and modify the roll as follows:

  • add +1 for every +1 of a magic weapon
  • add +1 for every 3 levels of fighter (or every 3 hit dice of a monster)
  • add +1 for every 4 levels of cleric or thief
  • add +1 for every 5 levels of magic user
  • subtract -3 for Dex of 3
  • subtract -2 for Dex of 4
  • subtract -1 for Dex of 5
  • no modifier for dex of 6-15
  • add +1 for Dex of 16
  • add +2 for Dex of 17
  • add +3 for Dex of 18

Roll 1d20, add modifier and apply the results below:
01-03 Strike self or nearest comrade(50% chance of either); roll to hit and damage as normal
04-06 Possible break weapon (save vs crushing blow) or, if attacking with hand/claw/etc., take 1d3 damage and lose next attack
07-09 slip and fall (lose round to recover; enemy gains extra attack at +2)
10-13 Drop weapon or shield or other object (1-8 feet away in random direction)
14-17 Off balance; lose next round
18+ No effect



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