Friday, September 12, 2008

Hydra House Rules: Morphology Independant Critical Chart

Hit location charts, critical hit location charts and in particular critical charts with hit locaitons have always been tricky things in gaming largely because they tend to revolve around humanoid morphology. Jeff Reints talks about (well, posts really) the legendary Ardruin critical chart here. And most everyone that has been around the gaming block has encountered an incarnation of the rolemaster crit chart at some point.(Latest one here.)

The consistant problem with these was simply that they would specify locations that only humanoids had. What happens when you crit on a dragon, or a displacer beast, or heck, even a beholder. Do you ignore foot? Is there a chance you can hit a wing?

In my games I created a hit locaiton chart based on the "trap mishaps" sidebar in the 3.5 DMG. This was still humanoid centric but I had created it more as a way to give my player's characters more well, character. Eye patches and peg legs and such. Strangely, no one got hurt after I started using it. But as I put more thought into it, it occured to me that a location chart, especially a critical one, should not operate on form, but on function.

Almost every creature that you can crit has appendages of some kind, and favored appendages. And when they don't, one is as good as the other. All organisms share certain features: The aforementioned appendages, sense organs, a nervous system of some sort, and a area of mass larger than the appendages ussually refered to as a body.

Appendages seem to come in 3 varieties: Locomotive, Manipulative, and Favored Manipulative. Few have more than 2 senses, and when they do you just work through them at random.

So here we have the Steamtunnel Press Non-Mophology based hit location table, aka The Function Based Crit Table:

  1. Limb, Appendage, Psudopod or Tentacle (Locomotive)

  2. Limb, Appendage, Psudopod or Tentacle (Manipulative)

  3. End of Limb, Appendage, Psudopod or Tentacle (Locomotive)

  4. End of Limb, Appendage, Psudopod or Tentacle (Manipulative)

  5. Limb, Appendage, Psudopod or Tentacle (Manipulative)(Favored)

  6. End of Limb, Appendage, Psudopod or Tentacle (Manipulative)(Favored)

  7. Body

  8. Sense Organ/Sensor (Type 1)

  9. Sense Organ/Sensor (Type 2)

  10. Nerve/Control/Processing Center

The cool thing about this is that it works on Giant Ants, Mind Flayers, Dragons, Beholders, Cthulhu, and Robots. Even GIANT ROBOT ANTS CONTROLLED BY BEHOLDERS. Imaginative groups can even use this chart to cut off Mind Flayer tentacles in a fight (Tentacle, Manipulative). Appendage (Locomotive) against a dragon? Depending on your DM, you may have just taken out its wing. End of Limb (Manipulative) (Favored) against Luke Skywalker? You just cut off his hand!

Another feature of it being 1-10 is that you can combine it with the to hit roll. Just use the second digit of your hit result to determine where you zinged that Shuggoth.

Since it is easier to hit the larger parts of a being, I am thinking of taking inspiration from the Battletech hit location chart and making it 2d6 with the smaller parts on the edges and the bigger parts in the center. But then that messes up the whole second digit built into the attack roll thing.

This is definately going into Codex, but I am going to put it here for community use. Enjoy.

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