One of my favorite charts, if not favorite, is the critical hit table. The original three books never said anything about critical hits, they didn’t even say a 20 was a hit, let alone a critical hit. I think these were rules that players, and DMs collectively thought were right, and so incorporated them into play. I’m sure that more than one group, on their own, decided that a roll of 20 was always a hit. We often ruled a natural 20 was double damage, unless we agreed to use the Arduin Critical hit table.
The Arduin Critical hit table is fairly deadly. With effects that add damage ranging from 1-2 points up to 10-100! The best part is the descriptions. Heres the chart below. (I tried to copy this as close as it appears in the Arduin Grimoire Volume 1)
- 01-02 Brain penetrated die immediate death damage 4-32 points
- 03-04 Voice box ruined total voice loss damage 1-8 **
- 05-06 Hand severed, die in 1-8 minutes damage 3-18
- 07-08 Impalement, weapon is stuck there damage 3-30
- 09-10 1-5 ribs broken damage 1-3 per rib
- 11-15 Leg, artery cut die in 1-10 minutes damage 1-8
- 16-20 Arm, as above die in 1-12 minutes damage 1-6
- 21-25 Achilles tendon cut fall immediately 1-3 **
- 25-30 Finger 1-5 roll side damage 1 each
- 31-32 Toes, as above damage 3 per 2
- 33-34 *1 Eye ruined (roll side) or torn out damage 1-6
- 35-36 *2 forehead gash blood in eyes, can’t see damage 1-3
- 37-38 *3 Genitals/Breasts torn off, shock damage 3-18
- 39-40 *4 Ear taken off, hearing loss damage 1-3
- 41-42 *5 Buttock torn off, fall, shock. damage 4-16
- 43-44 Stunned 1-10 melee turns. No fighting. Damage 1-2
- 45-46 Stunned 1-6 minutes. No Fighting. Damage 1-4
- 47-48 Minor concussion, as above. Stunned 1-10 minutes damage 1-6
- 49-50 *6 Moderate confusion, unconscious. damage 1-8
- 51-55 *7 Major skull fracture, unconscious. Damage 1-10
- 56-60 Throat cut, die in 1-3 melee turns. Damage 1-8
- 61-65 Arm torn off (roll % loss) die in 1-3 turns. Damage 4-24
- 66-70 Leg, as above, fall, die in 1-3 melee turns. Damage 4-48
- 71-75 Heart pierced die immediately. Damage 1-10
- 76-80 *8 Spine ruined, varied results. Damage 2-20
- 81-85 As for no. 33-34 both eyes blinded. Damage 2-12
- 86-90 *9 Node ruined -6 charisma, stunned. Damage 1-8
- 91-94 *A Head general, nothing apparent later problems. Damage 1-2
- 95 Guts ripped out, 20% chance of tangling feet. Die 1-10 minutes. Damage 2-16
- 96 *B Skull caved in major brain damage. Damage 2-12
- 97 *C Lung pierce internal damage. Damage 1-12
- 98 Head torn off immediate death. Damage 5-50
- 99 Body split in twain, immediate death. Damage 10-100
- 100 Entire head pulped and splattered over a wide area, irrevocable death insues. Damage total.
** – Indicated permanent damage
*1 – Unable to fight 1-10 melee turns (roll), loss is irrevocable.
*2 – Blo0d in eyes can’t fight for 1-10 melee turns (roll).
*3 – Immediate shock induced coma, death in 1-4 minutes.
*4 – Permanent 50% hearing loss and -2 charisma.
*5 – Shock induced coma for 3-30 minutes, permanent -3 agility, 1/2 speed.
*6 – Actually unconscious for 1-6 melee turns, after revival, confused and groggy for 6-60 minutes.
*7 – out for 2-20 minutes and amnesia for 2-24 hours afterward, 40% chance of it becoming permanent.
*8 – Roll six sided die with the following results:1=100% paralyzed; 2=left side ditto; 3=right side ditto 4=waist up ditto; 5=waist down ditto; and 6 means damage was too severe, death in one minute.
*9 – Breathing problems, -2 constitution as applicable to endurance, and a bad speech problem (1-12) months to learn to speak properly, etc.).
*A – Brain will hemorrhage in 1-10 days resulting in in either (roll) death, or total and permanent insanity, incoherence, etc.
*B – All mental faculties permanently halved, roll % of memory destroyed (starting at 50%), charisma reduced by 8.
*C – Permanently halving of strength, constitution, and endurance.
Essentially the chart adds a lot of flavor. It also proves to be fairly deadly to player characters. Monsters just roll with it (so to speak). We played the damage was extra, on top of weapon damage, though it is not stated either way in the chart. Overall the chart is weighted against players. The extra damage is not that great in many cases. Results with “die in x minutes” are not really helpful to players, one minute is 10 rounds! The idea of being stacked against the players is really apparent in 91-94, which was always the most disappointing result to me, only 1-2 extra points of damage. For characters those later problems could be a big deal (see footnote *A), for a monster they would be meaningless.
These crits remind me of DCC‘s mighty deeds. The idea of making up a combat maneuver and effect, adds a lot of fun and flavor. Where the chart here is not that great in a practical sense, who doesn’t want to roll a 20, and tear an arm off the ogre, sure beats doing 12 points of damage.This is where I think DCC got it right. Give the players the opportunity to create some great flavor text in combat!
The range of damages used here is very interesting. There is 4-16 (4D4), 4-48 (4D12), and 3 points for every 2 toes lost! I wonder if Dave, a Viet Nam veteran from what I understand, thought really hard about how much damage a particular injury should cause? It doesn’t seem like he was trying to balance game play, and create a curve of any kind. Look at the footnotes *1-C. These hint at Dave describing real injury he may have witnessed.
Side note, I remember our group always played that you could sweep adjacent opponents. This appeared 30 years later in 3rd edition. In a slightly different form. The rule was that an attacker with a sword or axe could roll to hit, if you missed, you could roll again for each adjacent opponent. 3rd edition, offered this idea with cleave and great cleave, as roll again if you hit! This seemed wrong to me at first, since hitting something would stop your weapon.