Pathfinder 2's Critical Hits & Failures! Plus Save-or-Suck and Damage On A Miss!
  • Pathfinder 2's Critical Hits & Failures! Plus Save-or-Suck and Damage On A Miss!


    Today's Pathfinder 2nd Edition news roundup is mainly about Critical Hits! And Failures. There's also a brief diversion into "save or suck" effects, and that old favourite, "damage on a miss" (tl;dr -- it's a failed attack roll, but not a miss). As always, this information gets added to the mighty Pathfinder 2nd Edition Compiled Info Page!




    Some weapons by Wayne Reynolds


    • Last night, Paizo held the first of a series of live Twitch streams with Jason Bulmahn. It's just over an hour long; I haven't had chance to watch it yet, but if I find a transcript or summary I'll post a link here.
    • Critical Hits! A new Paizo blog went up last night, detailing Critical Hits and Critical Failures!
      • We know from previous scoops that a critical success or failure means beating or failing the target number by 10.
      • Saves have critical successes, and critical failure. The example fireball does the normal half damage on a success, but on a critical success it does no damage, and on a critical failure it does double damage.
      • If you have improved evasion, and legendary proficiency in Reflex saves, your Reflex save critical failures are just normal failures.
      • If you have evasion, your Reflex save successes are critical successes.
      • Not all things have critical successes and failures; if they do, then it is listed.
      • A normal critical hit on an attack does double damage. There's normally no critical miss, but there are some exceptions:
        • Certain Strike -- the fighter has an ability where you do minimum damage on a failure, and miss only on a critical failure.
        • Twin Riposte - a fighter can parry with a weapon and attack with another when an enemy critically fails an attack roll.

    • Save or Suck (or, as Paizo calls it, "save or lose) -- effects which remove you from the game with a failed save can have lesser effects on a failed save, and only take you out of the game on a critical fail. The example given is a save vs. dominate: on a fail you can try to break free each round, but on a critical fail you're dominated for the duration; on a success you lose an action each turn as you fight it off.
    • Critical Effects -- Mark Seifter shares some examples of critical successes and failures:
      • The creature is banished and can't return to your home plane by any means for 1 week.
      • The creature takes the full collapse damage and falls into a fissure.
      • The target believes the fact for an unlimited duration.
      • The target's intellect is permanently reduced below that of an animal, and it treats its Charisma, Intelligence, and Wisdom modifiers as Ė5. It loses all class abilities that require mental faculties, including all spellcasting. If the target is a PC, she becomes an NPC under the GM's control.
      • The creature is pushed 30 feet in the direction of the wind, is knocked prone, and takes 2d6 bludgeoning damage.
      • You grant a +4 circumstance bonus.
      • Per a failure, except the target believes that everyone it sees is a mortal enemy. It uses its reactions and free actions against these enemies regardless of whether they were previously its allies, as determined by the GM. It otherwise acts as rationally as normal and will likely prefer to attack enemies that are actively attacking or hindering it.
      • The target must succeed at a Fortitude save or die. Even on a successful save, the target is frightened 2 and must flee for 1 round.
      • Your target regains Hit Points equal to 2d10 + your Wisdom modifier.
      • Per a success, but even afterward, the target is too scared of you to retaliate against you.

    • 20s and 1s are still auto successes/failures -- "If your nat 20 isn't a critical success, it is still a success, and if your nat 1 isn't a critical failure, it is still a failure. (Seifter)
    • On how the new save effects compare to PF1 and D&D 4E -- "If you're coming from PF1, I don't think you have much to worry about in terms of the non-damage critical failure effects causing TPKs more than you're used to, in that even regular failures in PF1 are often just as TPKtastic. If you're coming from a game more like 4e, which solved the problem of save or out of the fight by removing many of those effects and allowing a probable recovery from negative effects every round (4e's saving throws), it might indeed be more dangerous." (Seifter)
    • It's not "damage on a miss!" -- "It's not a miss. It's a failure on the attack roll, but it's still a glancing blow, and you only miss on a critical failure for a Certain Strike." (Seifter)
    • On the severity of losing an action -- "Losing one of your actions might not sound like much, but it's often a big problem for monsters and PCs alike. Admittedly, dominate is on the lower end of success effects in part because the fail and critical fail effects are so dire, but even then, slow 1 is preeetty good... I didn't fully grasp it until I played enough games of it, but in addition to the situations mentioned in the blog (and that spellcaster situation is really quite terrifying; it's even worse if you needed to cast a three action spell), it really screws over monsters who have an action routine that either uses all three actions or uses two actions but needs to move first. Grappling monsters that do after grappling you come to mind." (Seifter)
    • Mooks are affected by crits more often now it's "hit/miss by 10" -- "This is one of a lengthy list of benefits from the initial design proposal for this system. Incidentally, it also means you can do some really nasty things against mooky enemies!" (Seifter)

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    Comments 104 Comments
    1. Lylandra's Avatar
      Lylandra -
      I'm pretty intrigued, but I think it will take a while to balance every critical effect out via playtesting.
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      [*]The target's intellect is permanently reduced below that of an animal, and it treats its Charisma, Intelligence, and Wisdom modifiers as Ė5. It loses all class abilities that require mental faculties, including all spellcasting. If the target is a PC, she becomes an NPC under the GM's control.
      This, for example, should never happen due to one critical failure. This is worse than dying. This is just "LOL, seems like you lost your PC!"
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      I am interested in the crit by 10, and the degrees of success. It sounds like a good design, but I know from experience that it will be too fussy for my group. We just don't have whatever it takes to track degrees of things. That is why we go rid of ongoing conditions in 4e
    1. Stacie GmrGrl's Avatar
      Stacie GmrGrl -
      All these rules for Crit Success being 10+ the TN and Crit Failure being 10- the TN comes off as a very convoluted form of how PbtA games do their variable success thresholds.

      I like the idea, but this is something all players at the table will need to keep track of so the DM doesn't lose their mind trying to remember all the possible critical variables.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Stacie GmrGrl View Post
      All these rules for Crit Success being 10+ the TN and Crit Failure being 10- the TN comes off as a very convoluted form of how PbtA games do their variable success thresholds.

      I like the idea, but this is something all players at the table will need to keep track of so the DM doesn't lose their mind trying to remember all the possible critical variables.
      Agreed
    1. Koloth's Avatar
      Koloth -
      So now all classes have the potential for evasion, they just have to roll high enough?
      Wonder when the feat comes out that allows Improved Critical Successes on saves? And one that allows a reroll on a crit fail?

      Will the mage have an chance to get a critical success on her fireball spell and get double damage?
    1. DaveMage's Avatar
      DaveMage -
      Too many variables/too much to keep track of for my taste.
    1. kenmarable's Avatar
      kenmarable -
      Quote Originally Posted by Koloth View Post
      Will the mage have an chance to get a critical success on her fireball spell and get double damage?
      More likely, their targets could critically fail their save and take double damage (since its likely still a saving throw spell rather than a roll to hit spell).

      But thinking about that, I realized this really ups the heroic nature of PCs. When an evil wizard start launching off fireballs or a dragon attacks a city, high level PCs might be able to shrug it off with minimal effect but low level common folk donít stand a chance. Same thing the other way with a high level PC obliterating a dragonís kobold minions but still having a challenging battle against the dragon itself. A basilisk gaze might be terrifying to common folk but mid-level PCs might weigh the odds and give it a try. Itís a nice way to maintain the fear and dread these things earn among communities while still allowing PCs to stand a chance (and still keep it challenging rather than easily sliding to either deadly or easy cake walk with very little in between).

      I really like the idea of this but want to try it out in game to make sure it doesnít get too fidgety to track. Thatís one reason I prefer 5e over PF1 is that Iím not keen on too much in-play complexity. But if the benefits are nice, especially for save-or-suck stuff, I might even try adding it to my games.
    1. Tranquilis's Avatar
      Tranquilis -
      Quote Originally Posted by DaveMage View Post
      Too many variables/too much to keep track of for my taste.
      Itís like trying to distill Shakespeare into a math formula. Most - if not all of this - should be handled narratively. Good grief.
    1. Arakasius's Avatar
      Arakasius -
      I donít see why the +/- 10 increases bookkeeping. Dm goes ďmake a will saveĒ, player goes ď8Ē, DM goes ďyou critically failĒ. Itís not hard or difficult to track. What could be difficult to track is that it does increase complexity on spells. Similar to this the ranks of skill proficiency adding different things you can do similarly increase complexity. They just need to make sure itís written clearly. Some spells in PF1 already have critical fails with saying if you fail by X this happens. Codifying it isnít a bad idea. As a plus this could make blaster casters actually viable.

      I disagree with the narrative comment. A common issue with spells in this game (and other d20 ones) are the binary nature of many spells. You pass the check and nothing happens, you fail it and youíre taken out of the fight. This leads to unfun gameplay in both directions. You donít want to sit on your butt for thirty minutes but you also donít want your once a day big spell to do nothing. Degrees of failures/success really fixes this issue. Itís not like you can narratively fix the issues that feeblemind destroys someone when it hits and does nothing when it misses.
    1. Erdric Dragin's Avatar
      Erdric Dragin -
      This edition is getting worse by the article.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Arakasius View Post
      I donít see why the +/- 10 increases bookkeeping. Dm goes ďmake a will saveĒ, player goes ď8Ē, DM goes ďyou critically failĒ. Itís not hard or difficult to track. What could be difficult to track is that it does increase complexity on spells. Similar to this the ranks of skill proficiency adding different things you can do similarly increase complexity. They just need to make sure itís written clearly. Some spells in PF1 already have critical fails with saying if you fail by X this happens. Codifying it isnít a bad idea. As a plus this could make blaster casters actually viable.

      I disagree with the narrative comment. A common issue with spells in this game (and other d20 ones) are the binary nature of many spells. You pass the check and nothing happens, you fail it and youíre taken out of the fight. This leads to unfun gameplay in both directions. You donít want to sit on your butt for thirty minutes but you also donít want your once a day big spell to do nothing. Degrees of failures/success really fixes this issue. Itís not like you can narratively fix the issues that feeblemind destroys someone when it hits and does nothing when it misses.
      I really like it from a game design standpoint. It checks a ton of boxes. I just know for me and my group it doesn't add up to more fun, but more frustration instead.
    1. Markn -
      The complaining is getting worse by the article.

      Particularly by those who misunderstand the rules.
    1. Arakasius's Avatar
      Arakasius -
      Quote Originally Posted by dave2008 View Post
      I really like it from a game design standpoint. It checks a ton of boxes. I just know for me and my group it doesn't add up to more fun, but more frustration instead.
      What Iím not understanding is your comment that this increases tracking. I assume when you do saves/skills/attacks you check the roll vs the DC. Iím not sure why throwing in the +/- 10 increases tracking. It increases complexity for sure, since many binary spells are now 3 or 4 options. Same things for skills. But Iím not seeing an increase in tracking costs.
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Arakasius View Post
      What Iím not understanding is your comment that this increases tracking. I assume when you do saves/skills/attacks you check the roll vs the DC. Iím not sure why throwing in the +/- 10 increases tracking. It increases complexity for sure, since many binary spells are now 3 or 4 options. Same things for skills. But Iím not seeing an increase in tracking costs.
      Especially since you could easily write the target thresholds right there in the stat block next to AC if you really need to.
    1. Rygar's Avatar
      Rygar -
      Article title is extremely misleading. It's not "Damage on a miss", it's a skill that can be used that has 4 states...

      Critical Success - Double Damage?
      Success - Normal Damage
      Failure (Which is a glancing blow here) - Minimum Damage
      Critical Failure (Which is a miss here) - No Damage

      That's different that Damage on a Miss, DOAM means you always do damage, this mechanic means you usually do damage but can still completely miss, the skill just reduces the probability that you'll completely miss.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rygar View Post
      Article title is extremely misleading. It's not "Damage on a miss",
      It's a joke.

      The joke's even explained in the first paragraph.
    1. Markn -
      A bit off topic but for those who didnít see the Friday Paizo stream it was mentioned that the Monday blog will be about goblin ancestry which should give us more insight to how ancestry will work in PF2.

      On topic, I think many of the concerns raised in the thread will prove to not be an issue. I think once everyone gets to give it a test run it will flow simpler than it reads. I may be wrong, but that is what the play test is for!
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Markn View Post
      A bit off topic but for those who didnít see the Friday Paizo stream it was mentioned that the Monday blog will be about goblin ancestry which should give us more insight to how ancestry will work in PF2.
      Oh, awesome! Ancestry seems to be a pretty big piece of the puzzle weíve been missing, so that will be cool to get a look at. Plus goblins are cool.

      Quote Originally Posted by Markn View Post
      On topic, I think many of the concerns raised in the thread will prove to not be an issue. I think once everyone gets to give it a test run it will flow simpler than it reads. I may be wrong, but that is what the play test is for!
      I agree.
    1. Kaodi -
      Only Resonance and the Rogue class so far have given me some pause. Most of the stuff I hear coming out of PF2 is really interesting.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Arakasius View Post
      What Iím not understanding is your comment that this increases tracking. I assume when you do saves/skills/attacks you check the roll vs the DC. Iím not sure why throwing in the +/- 10 increases tracking. It increases complexity for sure, since many binary spells are now 3 or 4 options. Same things for skills. But Iím not seeing an increase in tracking costs.
      Not in the sense you are thinking (I think It is not tracking so much as, having more stuff to keep track of. I'm sure once you get used to it, it is no big deal. But, I know my group has no interest in doing that. With this system you have to "track": DC, DC +10, DC -10, the effect of a hit, the effect of a miss, the effect of a critical hit, the effect of a critical miss, effect of a save, the effective of a failure, the effect of a critical save, and the effect of a critical failure, and sometimes more
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