As a follow-up to my quick note on combat, here’s the idea of the Crit/Fumble Die. I had a discussion about crits with my players, and where I like having a cit-confirmation system, they almost all preferred a natural-20-always-crits system.
My preference stems from the math and what we end up modeling. With cit-confirmation, when you roll a 20 you get an auto-hit and then roll again to confirm, hitting the creatures AC again (doesn’t need to be another 20) means you get a critical hit. This means that there’s always a 5% chance to hit your opponent (auto-hit on a natural 20), and additionally that 5% of all your hits are going to be criticals. You’ll hit weaker enemies more, and thus get more crits on them, and tougher enemies will be hit less and have proportionally fewer crits. I’m building a similar system for fumbles because I like using them, but “always fumble on a natural 1” just adds in too much chaos (5% of all your swings are dismal failures).
Counter-wise, a 20-always-crits system means that 5% of all your swings (not your hits) will be critical hits. You will crit as much on strong enemies as you do on weak enemies, and if you have auto-hit on 20 as well you will *only* crit on tough enemies. That means 95% of the time you can’t touch the guy, and the other 5% you’re landing devastating blows. That just feels wrong.
But all my players see is that they roll a 20 and then I “rob” them of their crit when they fail to confirm. And I can see the logic in that. The Crit/Fumble die is my proposed solution, divorcing the “did I hit him” roll from the “did I crit him” roll. Each attack rolls 2d20, with one designated as the hit-die and one as the crit-die. If the hit-die beats the target’s AC, you hit and deal damage; if the hit-die is a natural 20, you auto-hit regardless of AC, but it has nothing to do with a critical strike. If you hit and the crit-die is a 20 (regardless of what the hit-die was), then it’s a critical strike. If you roll a 20 on the crit-die but miss with the hit-die, it was a good swing that just didn’t connect. And of course, if you miss with the hit-die and the crit-die is a 1, you just fumbled and something bad happens.
You’ll have 5% of your hits be critical, 5% of you misses will be fumbles, and 5% of your attacks with be auto-hits and auto-misses. But hopefully the perception that failing to confirm a crit “robs” the player of anything.