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  1. #1
    dr_venture's Avatar
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    Rolemaster Criticals

    Just FWIW, I figured other GM's might be interested in my experience using the Rolemaster critical tables with C&C. The core rules' 'double damage for crits' rule is much too boring for my tastes. So I decided to try the Rolemaster crits, with some trepidation at the potentially gory results.

    For those unfamiliar with Rolemaster, it has an enormous set of critical tables for a huge range of attacks, from 'Slash' and 'Piercing' crits to 'Small Animal' and 'Heat' and 'Unbalancing' (a crit for a bashing attack, like a shield bash being tackled). The tables are mostly arranged into criticals of ascending severity, 'A' being the weakest, and 'E' being the most severe. The tables are also known for their colorful descriptions and brutality, like this serious result:

    Strike to foe's head destroys brain and makes life difficult for the poor fool. Foe expires in a heap - immediately.
    However, the reality is that the majority of the results are less definitive, and the outcome will be more dependent on the specific game situation, such as this moderate result:

    Medium forearm wound. +4 hits. Foe takes 3 hits/rnd, is at -2, and is stunned next rnd.
    To me that's fun: interesting, really mixes things up, requires immediate action, and perhaps a change in strategy for whoever is on the receiving end. It's definitely serious with characters at lower levels, but not necessarily fatal. This will also depend on your rules regarding bandaging and rendering first aid.

    Now when a critical hit is achieved, the player rolls a d20 to determine crit type, and d100 for the critical. The d20 works like this:

    1-6 (30%): A
    7-11 (25%): B
    12-15 (20%): C
    16-18 (15%): D
    19-20 (10%): E

    The Damage amounts in the crit tables had to all be reduced down, of course - I had begun the process when I stumbled upon a PDF out in the webosphere that gives specific recommendations on modifying the Rolemaster tables for C&C (Google it if you're interested, of contact me if all else fails). Also, there are results in the original tables that contain notes like "Foe is at 50% hearing." Since Rolemaster is based on percentiles, and C&C is based on d20, it's an easy conversion: every +/-5% in Rolemaster is +/-1 in C&C, so the above would translate as "Foe is at -10 hearing." Until healed, of course.

    So I put it all together and warned my players that we would give it a try, and I would retcon any disaster that occurred due to the experiment... and to my great surprise and relief, it works exceedingly well!

    The big worry was that there would be a rash of dismemberments and brutal slayings, more in line with Rolemaster itself, but perhaps worse. However the reality is that Rolemaster tables result in much more frequent criticals than C&C's 1-in-20 model, and thus have a much higher chance of somebody rolling well on the crit table and getting a gruesome result. In practice in C&C, the more serious crits are mostly moderate to serious wounds with a very occasional brutality thrown in. Actually, the most common result is a critical with damage *below* the x2 damage that the C&C core rules call for, although the added details of stunning and bleeding make up for that on the whole, I think.

    In about 20 playing sessions, I have yet to have a character get an insta-kill on them... nor has anyone just outright slayed an opponent via an insta-kill result. You know it's coming, though!
    Last edited by dr_venture; March 9th, 2013 at 18:07.
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  2. #2
    damned's Avatar
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    so... how is the beta going? <gdw>

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  3. #3
    dr_venture's Avatar
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    Very slow... haven't given up, work on it when I can, but progress is being made. I am still not the right guy to be doing the work, as FG continues to be extremely frustrating to debug, due to it's assets being spread all over the place. But if not me... who?
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  4. #4
    bennis1980's Avatar
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    Is there no way you could make the critical type dependant on the attack roll (higher meaning more sever critical). Apologies if this doesn't make sense as I don't know how the C&C ruleset works. I just saw "Rolemaster Criticals" and my curiosity was piqued.

    I wish you luck with this.
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  5. #5
    dr_venture's Avatar
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    The C&C mechanic is just that if you roll a '20' to hit with your d20, it's an automatic critical... in that sense, you can't roll any higher, though mods could put the roll higher. You'd have to tie the critical severity to your total roll relative to what you need to hit or else high level characters would automatically get crits. It's a not a bad idea, definitely more realistic in many ways, as high level characters would more easily get criticals against lower level foes... which would be fun, of course, and make it feel really good to be a high level character beating on chumps.

    The trade-off would be between simplicity and complexity/realism. As much as I'm a game-tweaker and want to mess with it, for me I'd rather stick to the simple formula: natural 20=critical, natural 1=fumble... that way, 90% of the rolls don't need any further calculations... although I do use hit location, so there's an extra roll there.

    The above does bring up a good simple house rule: increase the critical range by +1 for every, say 4 full levels of difference between a character and the foe he's facing. So a 10th level character fighting a 2 HD monster would get criticals on any natural roll of 18, 19, or 20... which seems reasonable to me, since the crits are often not instantly deadly.
    "A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for." - John Shedd
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  6. #6
    bennis1980's Avatar
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    A critical on an 18, 19 or 20 would seem quite reasonable even at low levels, if you made an 18 roll cause an A or B Crit (50-50 chance), a 19 cause a C or D crit, and a 20 (which would explode or reroll in rolemaster on the equivalent 96-100) cause an E crit. Since A-B are generally non fatal they would add the flavour with most of the bite taken out. When a player rolls a 20 now, they can truely celebrate with anticipation.

    Of course if you haven't had a meaty kill (on either side) in 20 sessions, you'll want to increase the odds of a critical a little bit.

    EDIT: The beauty of this critical system (as you are probably already aware) is that a low level character has a chance, if even very slim, of defeating a high level dragon in one strike
    Last edited by bennis1980; March 14th, 2013 at 00:40.
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  7. #7
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    Or, perhaps rate the critical category (A, B, C, etc.) on how much damage was done with the hit. e.g. A creature rolls a 20 with a longsword that does 1d8 damage. If they roll 1 damage, then make it a 1A. For example: 1A, 2A, 3B, 4B, 5C, 6C, 7D, 8E. I know that most damage rolls won't be evenly split through the 5 critical levels, but as the damage roll is the effective "lethality" of the hit, then why not use it to determine the crit category level too? This is essentially what happens on the Rolemaster tables anyway - the more lethal the blow (usually linked to more damage) the higher the crit category level too.

    Just a thought...

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  8. #8
    bennis1980's Avatar
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    And a nice thought...


    Here's another, why not play rolemaster (heeheehee - you knew it was coming)
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  9. #9
    Trenloe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bennis1980
    And a nice thought...


    Here's another, why not play rolemaster (heeheehee - you knew it was coming)
    I was wondering when!

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  10. #10
    JohnD's Avatar
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    Hey dr_v... do you have these tables integrated into the ruleset or are you simply ad hoc using them from a paper copy?

    If you have them in game I'd love to have a copy of the module if you were to make it available for download.

    I'm coming up on some DMing downtime (May - September) and am thinking of trying my hand at a C&C game in the fall if time allows.
    DMing since 1979. Ultimate License holder.

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    Thanks for 7+ years of gaming via FG my friends (2e / 3.5e / Rolemaster Classic / Castles & Crusades / Pathfinder / Savage Worlds / 5e).

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