Variant Criticals (3.5e Variant Rule)

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Variant Criticals[edit]

This variant rule is designed to add a little more flavor and realism to combat.

Currently, a critical hit simply multiplies the damage dealt. In real life, it isn't that simple. It doesn't matter how many "hit points" you have, an arrow through the heart is still an arrow through the heart.

This variant rule also makes the Heal skill much more useful, whereas before it was essentially a waste of skill points.

Rules[edit]

Each time a critical hit is confirmed, roll a d% and implement an effect according to Table: Variant Criticals.

Roll Effect
1-30 Soft Spot (classic critical)
31-45 Broken Arm
46-60 Broken Leg
61-70 Nerve Hit
71-80 Major Artery
81-85 Ruptured Stomach
86-90 Punctured Lung
91-95 Nervous System
96-100 Heart

Soft Spot (classic critical): The attack struck a "soft spot" of the body, more vulnerable to injury than other parts. This is the "classic critical". Simply multiply the damage according to the critical multiplier, as for a normal critical hit. This is the only form of critical hit that actually multiplies the damage. All other forms of critical hits (below) deal normal damage, but include a special effect.

Broken Arm: The attack cleaved, punctured, or shattered the bones in your arm. In addition to taking damage as for a normal attack, your arm is now broken. You take a -4 on all Strength-based checks (whether it be a skill check, a grapple check, a lifting check, etc.) except for Jump. You take a -4 on all attack rolls with that arm, and you do not deal bonus damage for wielding a weapon in two hands. Any spells you cast that have a Somatic component incur a 15% arcane spell failure chance, which stacks with any penalties for wearing armor. A broken arm does not recover naturally. It can be repaired with a DC 20 Heal check, or by healing at least 8 points of damage.

For weapons with higher critical multipliers: For each point the critical multiplier is above x2, increase the penalties by 2 and the arcane spell failure by 5%. For instance, if your arm was broken by a weapon with an x4 multiplier, you would take a -8 on all Strength-based checks and attack rolls, and you would incur a 25% arcane spell failure chance.

If a creature doesn't have arms or the DM decides the creature is otherwise immune to such an effect, reroll the d% for the critical hit effect.

If it is relevant, roll d2 or flip a coin to determine which arm is affected.

Broken Leg: The attack cleaved, punctured, or shattered the bones in your leg. In addition to taking damage as for a normal attack, your leg is now broken. Your movement speed is halved, rounded down, and you cannot run or charge. You take a -4 on all checks that involve using your legs (examples include Jump, Move Silently, Balance, Tumble, etc), on all Reflex saves that involve using your legs (jumping out of the way of a falling boulder, for instance), and on checks to avoid being tripped, bull rushed, or overrun. Standing up from prone is now a full-round action instead of a move action. Finally, your Dexterity score is reduced by 1. A broken leg does not recover naturally. It can be repaired with a DC 20 Heal check, or by healing at least 8 points of damage.

For weapons with higher critical multipliers: For each point the critical multiplier is above x2, increase the check and save penalties by 2 and the Dexterity penalty by 1. For instance, if your leg was broken by a weapon with an x4 multiplier, you would take a -8 on all checks and saves involving your legs, and your Dexterity would be reduced by 3.

If a creature doesn't have legs or the DM decides the creature is otherwise immune to such an effect, reroll the d% for the critical hit effect.

If it is relevant, roll d2 or flip a coin to determine which leg is affected.

Nerve Hit: The attack damaged an area with a particularly high concentration of nerve endings. In addition to taking damage as for a normal attack, you suffer extreme pain. You must make a DC 15+X Will save against a pain effect or else be staggered for X rounds, where X is equal to the weapon's critical multiplier. A staggered character can only take a single standard action or a single move action each round.

If a creature doesn't have nerves or the DM decides the creature is otherwise immune to such an effect, reroll the d% for the critical hit effect.

Major Artery: The attack ruptured a major artery. In addition to taking damage as for a normal attack, you begin bleeding profusely. Each round, you take 1 damage as if you were dying. Damage to a major artery does not recover naturally. It can be repaired with a DC 15+X Heal check, or by healing at least X points of damage. X is equal to the critical multiplier of the weapon that caused the damage.

If a creature doesn't have arteries or the DM decides the creature is otherwise immune to such an effect, reroll the d% for the critical hit effect.

Ruptured Stomach: The attack broke a hole in your stomach. In addition to taking damage as for a normal attack, you now have a ruptured stomach that is leaking corrosive digestive juices into your body. Every 10 - X rounds (X is equal to the critical multiplier of the weapon that caused the damage) you must make a DC 20 Fortitude save or take 1d8 points of damage. A ruptured stomach does not heal naturally. It can be repaired with a DC 20 Heal check, or by healing at least 8 points of damage.

If a creature doesn't have a stomach or the DM decides the creature is otherwise immune to such an effect, reroll the d% for the critical hit effect.

Punctured Lung: The attack damaged a lung. In addition to taking damage as for a normal attack, you now have a punctured lung. You take Constitution damage equal to twice the weapon's critical multiplier. Additionally, you are staggered. A Staggered character can only take a single standard action or a single move action each round.

A punctured lung does not heal naturally, nor does its associated Constitution damage. It takes a DC 25 Heal check or at least 10 points of healing to repair a punctured lung. Once it is repaired, the Constitution damage is immediately recovered.

A punctured lung cannot reduce you to 0 Constitution. If a punctured lung would reduce you to 0 Constitution, you are instead reduced to 1, and you are immediately reduced to -1 Hit Points regardless of your current total. From there, follow the rules for damage to the Heart (below).

If a creature doesn't have lungs or the DM decides the creature is otherwise immune to such an effect, reroll the d% for the critical hit effect.

Nervous System: The attack damaged your brain, spinal cord, or other nervous organ. In addition to taking damage as for a normal attack, roll a d4 and suffer the according effect:

1: Your Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma are all reduced by 3+X, where X is the critical multiplier of the weapon.

2: You are knocked unconscious.

3: Your Dexterity is reduced by 8+X, where X is the critical multiplier of the weapon.

4: See the rule for Heart damage (below)

Brain damage does not recover naturally. Brain damage can be repaired by a DC 25+X Heal check, or by healing at least 12+X points of damage (X is the critical multiplier of the weapon that caused the damage). If you rolled a "4" on the d4, these numbers replace the normal DCs and numbers for Heart damage.

If a creature doesn't have a nervous system or the DM decides the creature is otherwise immune to such an effect, reroll the d% for the critical hit effect.

Heart: The attack ruptured your heart. You must make a DC 25+X Fortitude save (X is the critical multiplier of the weapon) or else be immediately reduced to -1 Hit Points regardless of your current total. You are dying. Unlike being reduced to negative HP by a normal attack, you cannot stabilize naturally. Furthermore, the First Aid DC increases to 25, and it takes at least 10 points of healing to stabilize you. Even if healing brings you into the positive numbers of hit points, you are still unconscious and dying if the healing wasn't at least 10 hit points.

If a creature doesn't have a heart or the DM decides the creature is otherwise immune to such an effect, reroll the d% for the critical hit effect.

A note on recovering injury through healing[edit]

When a particular injury says it can be healed by healing a certain amount of damage, it doesn't all have to be healed in one sitting. You can split the healing among multiple healing actions. For instance, you don't have to heal 10 damage with a single cure spell to repair Heart damage. You could heal 3 damage with one cure spell, 5 damage with another, and 2 damage with a third. You should keep track of how much healing a character has received for the purpose of treating special injuries.

Even if you are healed to maximum HP, special injuries are only repaired if you have been healed for the required amount of damage. You can still be healed after you have reached maximum HP to repair these special injuries.

Nonlethal Damage[edit]

A critical hit with a nonlethal weapon can only be a soft spot, a broken arm, a broken leg, or a nerve hit. If anything else is rolled for a nonlethal weapon's critical, treat it as a soft spot (classic critical).



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