While I’m not a fan of the stadnard critical hits systems in most RPGs (as they add a truly random “instant death” chance to every attack against every character – PC or NPC), I do enjoy reading the tables.
I also love the way critical hits are handled in the Warhammer FRP game – critical hits are only scored when a character is out of wounds (the equivalent of hit points). Bringing this to D&D sounds pretty simple, when a character is out of hit points instead of being disabled, all future damage is rolled on the appropriate Critical Hit charts. This is very nice for low level characters as a 1 hit point character can still survive a successful attack, albeit seriously wounded.
I’ll have to work up a set of tables for this in D&D over the next few weeks.
As I work on that system, here’s my fave five lethal and nearly-lethal critical hits from the classic Rolemaster RPG, with my favourite wordings highlighted.
- Foe’s head is but a charred stump. Sadly, foe cannot handle the loss and he dies instantly. Add +10 to your next roll. (C Heat Critical – 100)
- Blast annihilates foe’s entire skeleton. Foe is reduced to a gelatinous pulp. Try a spatula. (E Impact Critical – 100)
- Insulting strike to foe’s nose. If foe has full helm, he is stunned 2 rounds. If not, foe has shredded nose, takes +3 hits per round and is stunned for 9 rounds (A Tiny Animal Critical – 96-99)
- Shot through both ears proves effective. Foe dies instantly. Add +20 to your next 6 rounds. Pretty shot (C Puncture Critical – 100)
- There are no children in foe’s future. Groin shot leaves all within 15′ groaning in sympathy for foe (everyone stunned for one round). (E Ballistic Armor Piercing Critical – 66)
And a runner up, from the related Cyberspace RPG:
- In an example of unanesthetized surgery, you remove a variety of internal organs. Foe is out and dies in 3 rnds. +35 hits. (Cyberspace Shrapnel / Automatic Critical – 110)