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Explosive Disappointment: Is a Single d6 on Critical Hits Enough?

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  • Explosive Disappointment: Is a Single d6 on Critical Hits Enough?

    In my last gaming session, the players faced off against some zombies with a Fighting d6 and Claw damage of (Str) d6. Most of the zombie attacks missed with the players wearing +5 Amor. That's fine as the zombies were meant to be minor threats. But one zombie hit with a 23 and I could see the group getting nervous as I kept rolling the d6. Then I rolled the claw attack... 1d6 + 1d6 for the critical raise and scored a whopping 3 points of damage.

    This made me wonder if anyone has ever tried to use an extra d6 for each raise on the attack roll instead of the standard 1d6. Would the swing be too large? Woudl it make the game too deadly? What if the extra Crit dice weren't allowed to explode?

    I'm interested in hearing about others experiences with critical hits and damage. Has anyone tried something different with the critical damage?

  • #2
    Yep, it has been tried. Generally, it was found to be a lot slower than the current rules, and a lot deadlier when it came up.

    Zadmar proposed a system where damage rolls couldn't ace, but attack rolls were added to damage (technically, it was the margin of success on the attack). So, the zombie would deal d6 damage, but a 23 Fighting (assume PC Parry 6) would add 17 to that d6, resulting in an attack that would be felt (18 to 23 damage, average 20.5).
    I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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    • #3
      I know I've seen options for this on the boards before, but my archive-trawl was less than successful.

      Options, if you want to go there:

      1: Extra dice per raise, with no acing.
      2: Extra dice per raise, WITH acing.
      3: A flat bonus (+4 would be about the average of a single d6 that could Ace--so it's less likely to be a complete wash, but also wouldn't be prone to acing).
      4: A flat bonus per Raise (I'd suggest +3 for this one).

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by jordi
        That's probably when I'd spend one of my GM Bennies on a re-roll tbh.
        With +5 Armor, it's quite likely the zombie attack would bounce anyway--they need at least one of the dice to ace to have any effect. Honestly, it's a situation where the zombies were simply not a credible threat, other than an absurdly lucky set of rolls.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Old School Savage View Post
          In my last gaming session, the players faced off against some zombies with a Fighting d6 and Claw damage of (Str) d6. Most of the zombie attacks missed with the players wearing +5 Amor. That's fine as the zombies were meant to be minor threats. But one zombie hit with a 23 and I could see the group getting nervous as I kept rolling the d6.
          Bit of advice. Stop rolling the dice once you get the raise. That's kind of the point of only getting bonus damage from a single raise, so once that threshold is reached, just stop rolling the dice and move on to damage, keeping the combat moving.

          I know, I know, people love rolling dice and Acing, but in combat, that's what the damage roll is for. Every raise on a damage roll can have an effect, if only to make Soaking the damage nigh impossible (since the number of wounds rolled is Soaked not wounds taken...since they haven't been taken yet).

          Originally posted by Old School Savage View Post
          IThen I rolled the claw attack... 1d6 + 1d6 for the critical raise and scored a whopping 3 points of damage.

          This made me wonder if anyone has ever tried to use an extra d6 for each raise on the attack roll instead of the standard 1d6. Would the swing be too large? Woudl it make the game too deadly? What if the extra Crit dice weren't allowed to explode?

          I'm interested in hearing about others experiences with critical hits and damage. Has anyone tried something different with the critical damage?
          +1d6 per raise is overkill, literally. It also makes taking Called Shots pointless except in very special cases (like Weaknesses).

          My suggestion for folks who want to keep rolling the attack dice is to increase the die type for each raise. So one raise is a d6, two adds a d8, three a d10, and the max would be four raises for a d12. If anyone gets to that point, then they got to roll the dice enough and need to stop so everyone else can play the game too.

          It's still probably a bit overpowered (starting at a d4 would fix it if so), but I think it's a good compromise.

          Clint Black
          Forum Admin & Rules Answer Guy
          Savage Worlds Brand Manager

          Comment


          • Ndreare
            Ndreare commented
            Editing a comment
            I prefer the rules as written in this case, but I like your system enough I want to try it.

            I wonder how it would feel in play.

        • #6
          Okay, here is a bit of background on the campaign. The players started in a Walking Dead setting. No armor and used whatever they could find as weapons. During one of the games, they met a scientist and his daughter and they were told that the daughter held the cure but the scientist needed to get her to an underwater base. At the base, the group was introduced to the base crew, cleaned themselves up, given some better gear and assigned to a scouting mission to investigate some new energy readings. The armor they were given is modified version of the Urban Warrior from the Savage Rfits player's guide. It has a +5 Armor but does not boost Toughness nor offer any kind of environmental protection. The group goes to an underwater cave and finds the zombies there. These are the same zombies they have been facing all along. When they didn't have any armor, the zombies had a better chance of doing real damage but with the armor, not so much. Still, I have cautioned my players about how deadly exploding dice can be and how hard it is for me, as a new SW GM to gauge those attacks.

          Okay, so underpowered zombies aside, I'm thnking that a critical hit might do an extra 1d6! (+2 damage for each additional Raise) on the attack roll. So in the above example, the zombie would have scored 4 Raises and his damage would have been Str! + d6! + 6 for the static raise bonus. This might be a way to incorporate extra damage for really well placed strikes while allowing for a bit of wild swing with the d6 and a static bonus that won't get bogged down in dice rolls. I threw the formula into Roll20 just to see how the numbers played out. Over 10 rolls, most of them were in the mid to high teens. There were a couple that scored above 20 damage but it was fairly rare.

          Edited: +2 for each additonal Raise after the first.
          Last edited by Old School Savage; 10-12-2017, 10:14 AM.

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          • #7
            One thing to be aware of is that the Rifts setting is VERY high damage and almost always high AP. Five points of armor there is not that much. In a "normal" setting five points of armor is close to vehicle level protection, maybe even APC. Even the core book does not get personal armor over a +4 (not counting Kevlar) until you hit Futuristic Battle Suit. You may want to scale what you gave the party back a touch.

            Instead of +2 per raise you should make it +2 per additional raise. Otherwise you are looking at one raise doing (base damage)+1d6!+2 and I don't think that is what you are looking for.

            Personally I have toyed with a similar idea. I was looking at everything from +1 to +3 per extra raise. I quickly decided a +3 was a bit too much but have not really tested either +1 or +2 in play. I am leaning towards only a +1 because then it would take more than two extra raises to guarantee an extra wound. (I already ace often enough to make the players worried when I start rolling.)
            I have way too much time but do not always edit myself properly. Please do not take offense.

            Comment


            • DMbobby
              DMbobby commented
              Editing a comment
              ^Pretty much this. Even if you nerf things from Savage Rifts the math and expectations from that setting are a totally different ballpark from most Savage Worlds game. A Kevlar Vest with Ceramic Inserts only has an armor of +4 against anything that isn't a bullet and plate armor is a +3. Using those as a benchmark shows you what kind of gear these characters or sporting and its basically full swat gear. The other thing to not with threats like zombies is to not forget the Wild Attack, how often is a zombie taking a measured and guarded attack versus just lunging plus called shots which unless those characters are in perfectly sealed armor they will have exposed locations (typically the throat so the head can move). Will this cause penalties? Yea, but THAT'S when those amazing rolls to hit get deadly once you add in the +2 damage from wild attack and +4 from vitals, not to mention if it was on an unarmored location.

              One of the things I tend to do for incredibly high attacks (my group is all across the country now so we are online and the dice don't stop rolling till the acing stops) is if they get 3 raises they can retroactively make it a called shot. This is rare enough that they don't rely on it and still attempt called shots, but in the off chance it happens they feel rewarded.

          • #8
            Originally posted by Old School Savage View Post
            This made me wonder if anyone has ever tried to use an extra d6 for each raise on the attack roll instead of the standard 1d6.
            I gave a breakdown of the impact here, and proposed a less deadly variant here.
            My blog: Savage Stuff. I've also written some free tools and supplements.

            Comment


            • Erolat
              Erolat commented
              Editing a comment
              I knew I had seen something but could not remember who or where.

          • #9
            It's worth noting that in the Rifts setting, zombies are about as unimpressive an opponent as you can get, unless they've been properly equipped (they can even shoot weapons!). So Rifts Zombies are typically armed with lasers and vibro-swords, capable of dishing out damage on a typical hit. And even unarmed, they have d10 Strength for their claw attacks, rather than just d6. So, yeah, importing even toned-down Rifts gear for the PCs, without also importing Rifts Zombies, is going to be a huge deal.

            Comment


            • ValhallaGH
              ValhallaGH commented
              Editing a comment
              Worth noting that Savage Worlds zombies have Smarts d6, just like most player characters (and much higher than the character with Clueless and Smarts d4).
              They're more than smart enough to use rocket launchers, hand grenades, chainsaws, and machine guns if they can get them.

            • Freemage
              Freemage commented
              Editing a comment
              Excellent point. By the book Zombies even have Shooting d6, which means they are absolutely capable of using ranged weapons, by definition.

          • #10
            Originally posted by Freemage View Post
            I know I've seen options for this on the boards before, but my archive-trawl was less than successful.

            Options, if you want to go there:

            1: Extra dice per raise, with no acing.
            2: Extra dice per raise, WITH acing.
            3: A flat bonus (+4 would be about the average of a single d6 that could Ace--so it's less likely to be a complete wash, but also wouldn't be prone to acing).
            4: A flat bonus per Raise (I'd suggest +3 for this one).
            Note Option 4 is very similar to just adding the attack roll's margin of success. The advantage of doing it that way (adding MoS) is you don't have to count Raises.

            Comment


            • #11
              Originally posted by jordi
              That's probably when I'd spend one of my GM Bennies on a re-roll tbh.
              Except you can't re-roll damage with a Bennie (except with an Edge). Using it to re-roll the initial attack in this case (is that allowed after you've already rolled damage?) isn't likely to produce a result as good as the initial attack.

              Comment


              • Freemage
                Freemage commented
                Editing a comment
                There is also a setting rule that essentially gives EVERYONE that edge. I forget if it's in the core book or just in Savage Rifts, but it is there.

            • #12
              You can keep to RAW, and still have your zombies to get that extra d6 more reliably for a raise on an attack. Just remember the important tactics (based on suggestions from Clint way back when) which can increase their chance to hit (and increase damage!)
              • Wild Attack: Zombies should always do this - they don't give a crap about defense. I've run zombie-centric games before and I pretty much have the effects of Wild Attack permanently notated in their stats: +2 Attack, +2 Damage -2 Parry.
              • Gang Up: Single zombies aren't usually a threat. But a horde - that's when they get scary, because of the Gang Up bonus. Three zombies on one character, Wild Attacking, each would have +4 to hit (and +2 damage).
              Use these tactics consistently, and you're going to score hits more frequently, and the exploding dice will come up with big damage often enough to scare the players.

              In fact, this makes zombie attacks effective enough, and extra dangerous if there's deadly infection involved, that I also changed their tactics thus:

              Zombie bites only, not claws, can cause infection.

              Zombies must usually grapple a target before making a bite attack. If they win the grapple contest with a Raise, they can make the bite attack the same turn. Note Also the Wild Attack and Gang Up bonuses still apply to Grapple attacks. (IMC, older, desiccated zombies - "husks" - don't get the Grapple Raise benefit).


              Though it reduces the number of potentially damaging attacks the zombie will make, Grappling has other advantages: armor doesn't help you fend it off, and the PCs are at -4 to attack the zombie if they choose to do that rather than break free. A character who can't run away evens the playing field a little against slow zombies. Being grapple by one zombie when a half dozen others are shambling toward the PC has been enough to panic some players without having to damage their character!
              Last edited by Oneiros; 10-12-2017, 04:59 PM.

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              • #13
                i would recommend using the Zadmar suggestion of the overflow on an Attack Roll Boosting the damage roll by an amount based on the margin you succeeded by in place of the Raise Die. so if you got a 23 to hit a parry of 6, you deal 17 extra damage, but i would allow the normal damage dice to explode. but would also not give the raise dice. but i would likely remove called shots for anything but special manuevers in that case. so if the Zombie got a d6 for claws, a d6 for strength and got 23 to hit a parry of 6. they would inflict an additional 17 damage, and their claw damage and strength damage would be normal dice able to explode as normal, but they wouldn't get the raise dice.

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                • Ilina_Young
                  Ilina_Young commented
                  Editing a comment
                  actually, i would steal the Zadmar rule wholesale.

              • #14
                I'm not going to go into much detail, but just ditto that the +5 armor sort of broke your campaign in terms of being able to field decent challenges for the players in combat encounters. A possible save would be to come up with a plot device that allows for the arrival of new, uber zombies that deal much more damage. Or of course you could just retcon that armor and reduce it's armor bonus, but I usually find players bulk at such suggestions.

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                • #15
                  In one of my campaigns I gave "a d6 per raise" a try. We tried that for maybe 8 sessions before I decided that it is too much, especially if they can explode.

                  After that I changed it to what we still use a few years later. The first raise is +d6 as normal. After than the player can take a +1 or choose to roll on a hit location die. They get this choice for each +1, and they can choose which hit location they will hit, or they can ignore all rolled hit locations altogether. Most of the time players choose the +1, but some have had great fun with the random location. A +1 is not much, but it can add up, and it is basically a built-in "crit system".

                  It sucks to roll a low damage value. If it happens to you often, get the No Mercy Edge. I have rolled 6 damage on 4d6.

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