Called shots

argo

Mongoose
You're talking about called shots like "stab him in the heart for an instakill" or "knee to the goin to stun" right? I don't use 'em, those types of called shots are a bad idea. They break some of the fundamental underpinnings of d20 combat.

If OTOH you are talking about called shots like "hit him in a vulneurable spot do deal additional HP damage" then my answer is that the game system already supports those types of "called shots". The Power Attack feat lets you take a penalty to your attack roll to deal more damage, the Improved Critical feat lets you strike an opponent's vital organs for more damage and (in Conan) Finesse fighting lets you bypass an opponent's armor with a sufficently high attack roll and thus deal more damage. All of these things can be described as "striking vulneurable areas" just like a "called shot" and none of them break the system!


If you still insist on called shots however, then the best implementation of them that I've seen is on Hong's site. Its a prety good write up if you ask me (and you did).

Hope that helps.
 

Sutek

Mongoose
Couldn't have said it better myself, except to add this little bit:

Threat ranges emulate a weapon's ability to deal greater damage when a more precise blow is struck by accident. However, there are feats that increas weapon threat ranges such that Threats (and thus potential critical hits) are more likely.

In lieu of thst, you might consider a feat, say, for shooting arrows that allows the archer to count objects as a size category larger than they are for each time he takes that feat (max of three times is what I'd recommend).

All the tools though are already there, and as a GM, using these rational rules-based arguments usually do the trick and satisfy most good role players. Barring that, jsut tell them to mek sure they do a heack of a lot of damage, at least 20 poitns over armor, and the foe drops outright.

Problem solved...(lol)
 

XcomSquaddie

Mongoose
The problem with called shots and D20 is that the D20 combat system is abstract. If you start throwing in specifics, then it whacks the system.

The only possible need for a called shot in the D20 system is for creatures like Romero-style zombies, where they can only be killed by hits to the brain.

Just point out to players that if they can do called shots, so can the bad guys...
 

Voltumna

Mongoose
I see what you all mean. Abstract system seems to be the key here, and I understand how many feats and combat maneuvers work to gain damage bonuses while sacrificing attack accuracy or defence value, and when checks succed it is the role of the GM to descrive the scenes to convey the violent attacks and severe damage.

The part about this being bidirectional is understood beforehand. When I do the part of GM, I find the D20 system lacking a mechanic that will represent the effects of very drastic damage in terms of hindering the wounded character with severe penalties, because even a critical hit can deal little damage if your dice roll for damage was low. I think this would add to the drama.

I found a system for called shots in The Quintessential Fighter, where whenever you strike a critical hit, instead of rolling for extra damage, you can choose to do a called shot. The options are similar to those of the RoK feat Disabling Strike (I know many people don't like feats from that book), but they also have prerequisites. For instance a called shot to the head will blid a character because of profuse bleeding, thus leaving him at great disadvantage, although the damage dealt per those rules was only 1d4, regardless of the die of your weapon. To strike a called shot to the head you also need a BAB of +10. Other called shots have different BAB requisites ranging from +1 (arm) to +10 (head). So with this system characters don't do called shots at whim, but thay can opt for one when striking a critical. This description might not be very accurate, because I am quoting from memory, as I don't have the book right now, but that's the general idea. I like the system, and I would like to hear your thoughts about something like that.

Thanks,
 

XcomSquaddie

Mongoose
Here's some thoughts on the system you described:

I have a martial arts background and have done both empty hand and weapon sparring. This is what I am basing the following views on.

Now let's say you're fighting a Pict. You both have weapons. You are both striking and parrying, dodging and moving.

Now at one point, the Pict strikes high and leaves his ribs open. You stab at the ribs and connect, drawing blood.

That is an example of a standard attack.

Same example. Let's assume that you decide to go for a head shot. Now you're being picky. You're trying to hit a small, specific target rather than taking an opening. You are doing the work, feinting, set-ups, bluffs, etc. All trying to create an opening to the head.

And again, it's hard enough to hit someone on the torso let alone a specific part of the body.

Okay, now to your rules.

Increasing hit difficulty is the number one thing you have to do, for the reasons I stated above.

However reducing the damage, or making it a specific amount (smaller) does not make any sense at all. You strike to the head because it's a deadly shot. A strike to the eye is both crippling and potentially lethal.

You're not going to strike to the head to cause bleeding and to interfere with his vision. That's a secondary benefit. You strike to the head so you can cave in his temple or decapitate him completely.

And that brings out the single biggest problem with called shots:

They are deadly.

No character wants their 15th level barbarian to get killed in a bar fight because the tavern wench got lucky and fractured his skull with a chair.

No GM wants their favorite BBEG to die in the first round of attacks because the Pict kicked him in the groin.

Yes, it's fun to shoot the dragon in the hollow of his left breast, in the one spot not encrusted with gems, taking him out with your heirloom black arrow.

But it sucks when it happens to you.

My advice is to dig up an old copy of MERPs (Middle Earth Role Playing) or Rolemaster. Show your players the critical hit charts. A first level hobbit can knock out a Nazgul with one shot if they get lucky enough.

Ask your players if they can handle a character being maimed or killed with a single shot.

Ask yourself if you can handle an important villain or npc being maimed or killed or even knocked out with a single shot.

If EVERYONE answers yes, then go for it. Have fun and try not to slip on the entrails. :p
 

sbarrie

Mongoose
Darth Mikey said:
Increasing hit difficulty is the number one thing you have to do, for the reasons I stated above.

However reducing the damage, or making it a specific amount (smaller) does not make any sense at all. You strike to the head because it's a deadly shot. A strike to the eye is both crippling and potentially lethal.

You're not going to strike to the head to cause bleeding and to interfere with his vision. That's a secondary benefit. You strike to the head so you can cave in his temple or decapitate him completely.

Decreased hit chance + Increased damage = Power Attack. Already in the rules.

Of course, in Conan you could create rules for called shots that also alter armour piercing and massive damage threshold. Hmmm, a -3 called shot to the head to drop the massive damage threshold to 15... Maybe a -2 strike to the underarm for +1d6 armour piercing....

Of course, too many options make combat run slower.
 

XcomSquaddie

Mongoose
sbarrie said:
Decreased hit chance + Increased damage = Power Attack. Already in the rules.

Thanks, that's exactly what I'm talking about. That exactly describes hitting a more difficult target to do more damage.

sbarrie said:
Of course, in Conan you could create rules for called shots that also alter armour piercing and massive damage threshold. Hmmm, a -3 called shot to the head to drop the massive damage threshold to 15... Maybe a -2 strike to the underarm for +1d6 armour piercing....

Of course, too many options make combat run slower.

I agree. From what I've played of the Conan RPG, the combat runs fast and is geared to be dangerous. I think the called shots would lessen the enjoyment of the game.
 

Mayhem

Mongoose
And called shots to lightly armoured areas of teh body are also already in the rules - "Finesse".

I think the thing that people get hung up on is that hitting people in the head is obviously more desirable than hitting them on the arm, say. They want to be able to do this.

But basically, in a fight, you don't choose where to hit somebody to do max damage, you choose where to hits somebody where they have left their defences open. A character,in effect, is already always trying for a called shot, but sometimes it isn't possible because his opponent was guarding his head too well.

So instead of spending the round making no attacks at all, he settles for a poke to the ribcage instead of a crushing blow to the head.

****

Sometimes you do get lucky, your foe leaves himself open, and you deliver that telling blow to a vulnerable spot. We call them Critical Hits.

Or sometimes a character decides to go for that telling shot no matter what, even thought his target is defending that spot very well, and leaving himself open elsewhere. We call those "Power Attacks"
 

Sutek

Mongoose
Plus, there's Massive damage in Conan.

Why try to do a called shot to the eye and come up with a wacky, convoluted system to bypass rules that already allow for precision attacks (eg. Finesse) and jsut pound the bejeezus out of the dude?

I suggest that a Feat that you develop, with major prerequisites I might add, where specific areas become easier to hit by attackers counting them as larger size categories. You want a called shot to the hand: That's tiny, but because you have the feat, it counts as small. This reduces hit difficulty without sacrificing the generic conceptual side of the d20 system.

Remember, one roll of the d20 for any given opponent in a combat is representative of an unspecified number of swings and it quantifies the effectiveness of those swings. It's not "the roll is the swing".
 

Voltumna

Mongoose
Darth Mikey said:
Increasing hit difficulty is the number one thing you have to do, for the reasons I stated above.

However reducing the damage, or making it a specific amount (smaller) does not make any sense at all. You strike to the head because it's a deadly shot. A strike to the eye is both crippling and potentially lethal.


That is not the case with the system in QF. There is NO increased hit difficulty. The +1 or +10 I mentioned are BAB requisites you need to cover to opt for different called shots. If you don't have the specified BAB for a certain called shot, then you can't opt for that called shot. And the event in which you can opt to call one is when you seccesfully strike a critical hit.

Now, crits deal increased damage for whatever circumstance the playes or gms wish to describe, just as you have in your explanations. But in this system the damage is decreased, because the called shot has other detrimental effects on the target. These are similar to those in the RoK feat Disabling Strike:

Arm strike: target gains a -2 circumstance penalty on to hit rolls, and additional -5 on skills that have armour check penalties.

Leg strike: target looses dexterity bonus to DV, and has his base movement decreased by 10'.

Head strike: the target is blinded by blood.

These effects are from RoK. I don't have the QF at hand now, but this other book has a couple more effects: a groin strike, in which the target is stunned, and some other. The effects last for a number determined by a die roll.

Darth Mikey said:
You're not going to strike to the head to cause bleeding and to interfere with his vision. That's a secondary benefit. You strike to the head so you can cave in his temple or decapitate him completely.

You are right there, but as I mentioned, sometimes even a critical with multiple dice rolls for extra damage are low rolls, and the drama of the critical hit is lost there. The decreased massive damage range is an interesting option here. Instead, with the QF optional system, you deal less damage but leave the target at greater disadvantage. A massive damage saving throw is always though, always at leat 20, but what if a character makes a saving throw after sustaining such damage? He will keep fighting just as if he was at full hit points. In this system you fight unhindered until you drop below 0 hps, and some characters can even keep going after that point. I think that is not realistic. At some point, characters should be hindered because of the damage they are sustaining.

Thanks for the comments to all.
 

XcomSquaddie

Mongoose
Voltumna said:
...I think that is not realistic. At some point, characters should be hindered because of the damage they are sustaining...

No it's not realistic. But it encourages heroic roleplaying and it's simple enough to let the game flow.

Which brings up the best thing, in my opinion, about RPG's. It's your game and if you want to use a critical hit system then by all means do it.

Let us know how it all works out.
 

XcomSquaddie

Mongoose
Here's another suggestion. From what you're saying, the main thing you don't agree with is the lack of rules relating to the effects of damage.

In other words, Pud the barbarian should have negative modifiers when fighting with 3 hitpoints as opposed to his normal 56.

Critical hits can be extrapolated with feats and finesse fighting like Mayhem and sbarrie posted. Why not add a modifier chart instead of a whole critical hit system?

Something like:

Percentage of hitpoints remaining:
25% = -1
15% = -2
10% = -3
5% = -4
1% = -5


So if Pud has 56 hitpoints normally then he would get minus at the following levels:
14hp = -1
8hp = -2
6hp = -3
3hp = -4
1hp = -5

Just a suggestion.
 

sbarrie

Mongoose
Voltumna said:
The decreased massive damage range is an interesting option here. Instead, with the QF optional system, you deal less damage but leave the target at greater disadvantage. A massive damage saving throw is always though, always at leat 20, but what if a character makes a saving throw after sustaining such damage? He will keep fighting just as if he was at full hit points. In this system you fight unhindered until you drop below 0 hps, and some characters can even keep going after that point. I think that is not realistic. At some point, characters should be hindered because of the damage they are sustaining.

Arm Shot: Take a -2 penalty to hit and decrease the Massive Damage Threshold to 12. If the damage is between 12 and 30, a failed save only means that the arm is impaired (penalty to hit, parry, some skills?). If the damage was 30 or more, the target still dies from the failed save.

Leg Shot: Take a -1 penalty to hit and decrease the Massive Damage Threshold to 15. If the damage is between 15 and 25, a failed save means the leg is impaired (penalty to movement, dodge, and some skills?). If the damage is 25 or more, the target dies.

Groin Shot: Take a -2 penalty to hit and decrease the Massive Damage Threshold to 15. If the damage is between 15 and 20, a failed save means the target is stunned (search the SRD terms for something appropriate). If the damage is 20 or more, the target dies.

Essentially these use a "Wound Threshold", which works the same as a Massive Damage Threshold and Check and saves the players from learning a new formula. You could make two rolls, one to see if the target dies, then one to see if the arm is broken if they live, but I wouldn't.

Don't work out what type of armour covers each body part. That gets slow and nasty.

Note that if the Threshold is less than 20, the save DC can be less than 20.

/top of my head content, no idea if it's balanced
/again, more options = slower combat
 

Mayhem

Mongoose
Voltumna said:
I think that is not realistic. At some point, characters should be hindered because of the damage they are sustaining.

Interestingly, a NATO sponsored study of combat injuries placed the vast majority of them into one of two categories.

1) Injuries that are ignored by the recipient - they are not serious enough to physically inhibit combatant, the the normal inhibiting effect of pain is overidden by adrenaline or focus on current task.

Ie - the combatant fights on with no discernable drop in effectiveness

2) Injuries that are great enough to physically inhibit the combatant, or overcome the adrenaline/focus inspired ability to ignore pain.

Ie - the combatant is so badly injured that he can no longer fight.
 

sbarrie

Mongoose
Mayhem said:
Interestingly, a NATO sponsored study of combat injuries placed the vast majority of them into one of two categories.

1) Injuries that are ignored by the recipient - they are not serious enough to physically inhibit combatant, the the normal inhibiting effect of pain is overidden by adrenaline or focus on current task.

Ie - the combatant fights on with no discernable drop in effectiveness

2) Injuries that are great enough to physically inhibit the combatant, or overcome the adrenaline/focus inspired ability to ignore pain.

Ie - the combatant is so badly injured that he can no longer fight.

Also, either of those types of injuries could be fatal in the long run, or could be harmless.
Fatal wounds don't always incapacitate, and incapacitating wounds aren't always fatal.

But reality isn't always the best way to go.

I played with a more realistic system once where two rolls were made for each successful hit - one to see if the target was put out of the fight, the other to see whether the wound would kill (and how long the target had - minutes, hours, days). The two rolls were only weakly linked. It wasn't a great system for most genres.
 
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