Monday, 4 April 2022

C is for Critical Hit

The "Crit," or Critical Hit, has a storied history in role playing games, and more recently, the use of "Crit!" has broken out of gamer slang to more casual use in corporate-speak. Blame the Millennials. I do.

The idea of a Critical Hit or Miss is only more recently codified in the game rules of D&D. In the first edition (1e) rule set for AD&D (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) the phrase "critical hit" appears only once in the context of combat rules "cutting both ways" and somewhat critical of rules "such ... as double damage and critical hits" that "grossly [misrepresents]" monsters. E. Gary Gygax, the co-creator of D&D—and in this writer's opinion certainly its first champion—speaking to the reader in the Dungeon Master's Guide goes on, "I'm certain you can think of many other such rules," punctuating a clear distaste for such rules published or "house ruleed" at gaming tables around the world.1

While I have always known and played with the "Critical Hit"—most certainly as a house rule as my first D&D was BECMI and 1e—my heart is in the Critical Hit tables of WFRP. In D&D, the Critical Hit is, as I have always known it: a natural roll of 20 on a 20-sided die ("D20"). A 5% chance in any single Attack roll. The result most typically expressed as "double damage."

In WFRP, the Critical Hit is instead expressed as an attack on an otherwise seriously wounded opponent. Wounds in WFRP go to zero and then any damage beyond zero is automatically a "Critical Hit." And the WFRP Critical Hit tables are wonderfully evocative of the game and the setting.

Given a character or opponent with two wounds, that takes a hit dealing six wounds (after subtracting for Armor and "Toughness"), the four extra wounds are then used to determine the nature of the "Critical Hit!" And this is specific to where the character or opponent was hit. Head? Arm? Chest? 

You take four critical wounds to your arm! 
Rolls percentile dice, two ten-sided dice with one representing 10s, the other 100s, and gets 72. 
Ouch! Your arm is wrecked by his blow! You drop your sword staring at a grievous wound that soaks your gambeson through, blood immediately begins dripping to the ground from your hand, fingers splayed in shock.

WFRP enjoyed many "third-party" critical hit tables as well, some written by doctors. All with a bit of irreverence. 




  1. [1] This same section elaborates, "in High Gygaxian," attacks and wounds as to what each are—abstractions!—and are not—realistic accounts of injury! How we forget so much, yet "just know" what Gary was thinking. RTFM.

Posted by caffeinated at 9:18 PM in d10