D&D 5E Advantage, Criticals, and Fumbles

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
It's tangential, but when I think about it, I dislike that a 20 always hits and a 1 always misses. Is it silly to ponder something like, if you roll a 20 and it doesn't hit that you can roll another die and add it to your first roll to see if it was good enough. Similarly on a 1, roll another die and subtract it from your first roll.
FWIW, another issue with these types of systems is it makes AC 20 and 21 identical, because if you get a 20 on the first roll, you can't get less than a 1 on the second. If you want to say a 1 on the second is a miss, then AC 20 and 22 become identical since your minimum roll which would hit would be a 2...

To make it work, later rolls need to be 0-19 (or d20-1).

I think a nice way would also be to have the secondary post-20 roll be a proficiency die (+2 = d4, +3 = d6, etc.), because otherwise your chances of hitting higher ACs are almost guaranteed after the first 20. Which is probably why they don't do roll a second d20 and add to the first 20...
 

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Mort

Legend
Supporter
It's tangential, but when I think about it, I dislike that a 20 always hits and a 1 always misses. Is it silly to ponder something like, if you roll a 20 and it doesn't hit that you can roll another die and add it to your first roll to see if it was good enough. Similarly on a 1, roll another die and subtract it from your first roll.

I go back and forth on this.

You'll note, 5e expressly removed the 1 always fails for saving throws an skill checks - that used to be in prior editions - but they left it in for to-hit rolls. I like this because there SHOULD be a point where you are so good at something or SO resilient that you simply will not fail or be affected (for ex. I have a paladin PC that cannot fail a "standard" DC 10 concentration check (bonus is +9) and that's saved his bacon several times).

I can see the same thing for to hit rolls (good and bad) but at the same time; I can also see wanting to maintain at least some uncertainty for dramatic purposes (it is a fight, after all). A rule where a 20 or a 1 results in an additional roll that is either added or subtracted is a good compromise (probably wouldn't use it in my game, but I could see it in a given game).
 

Laurefindel

Legend
I was wondering what your thoughts are on the mechanics of:

1. Advantage (and Disadvantage)
2. Critical Hits (and possibly ability checks and saves?)
3. Fumbles (also possibly on ability checks and saves?)

I would appreciate any discussion on the topics you wish to have, and I'll state my own thoughts; whether you share them, disagree, or have something else to share.
... (snip)...
If anyone has any thoughts to add or share, I eagerly await your posts!

RE: advantage
I love this mechanics because it doesn't involve floating modifiers, which I really got sick of in 3.X. As an alternate to advantage/disadvantage, the "roll a d4 and add/remove it to the roll" is nice too and if I had to rein back the use of adv/disadv, I'd use something similar. It could be progressive, like two d4 bonuses = one d6 bonus instead, but it partially defeats the point of not having to track each gorram source of possible modifier to stack as many as possible ftw.

RE: critical hits
I like the present setup, and I particularly like the fact that they don't need confirmation. I applaud the "make them weaker but happen more often" approach. I would not be against a system where extra dice can be traded for status effects however.

I like the idea of having critical save and ability checks, but they are hard to implement consistently. For saves, I though that a crit save could make you auto succeed against the same spell/effect until you take a long rest or something, but being submitted to the same spell/effect more than once doesn't happen regularly enough to make the houserule worth IMO.

For cirt skill checks, there's the "choose one of the following: half time, double duration, give advantage to friend on same skill, gain inspiration, etc" option that some other games use. Used consistently, this could work.

As for attacks yielding a natural 20 being both auto-hit and critical hit; this doesn't bother me. It fits in a fiction where the hero is fighting an invulnerable opponent where only a a decisive hit can have any hope to affect it. It's used often in movies and since called shots are not a thing in D&D, this emulates it close enough (punch, punch, punch; no effects. Bad guy is too beefy. Kick in the nuts; bad guy is DOWN!)

RE: fumbles
While I understand that things can go south in combat, I haven't found a satisfactory solution that doesn't make fumbles work in D&D that doesn't make PCs look like a stooge. At best, you could represent a 1 as a lost opportunity or an opening for the enemy to exploit, but D&D doesn't really support that kind of things. A natural 1 being an auto-miss is enough of a fumble for me.

Fumbles on saves are difficult to implement consistently. At best they could represent something that has no direct connection with the spell or effect per se, like loss of inspiration, or disadvantage on your next save. But meh...

Fumbles on skill could also work on a "choose one among the following, extra time, loss material, a complication of sort, etc." I like games that let you or your DM choose a consequence from a list that everyone is aware of and doesn't cause unfair surprises. A natural 1 should always be an auto-miss however. That'd be the fumble. If the check is worth rolling, it should be worth failing regardless of your skill level. It doesn't have to be an humiliating defeat. You botched and it didn't work. That's all.

This argument came a lot in the 3e days: "If skill checks were auto-failed on a natural 1, 5% of ALL patients would die on the operating table regardless of their condition."

Counter argument:
First, not all surgeries require a skill check. Some are routine enough to let the surgeon succeed without a check if there are no significant chances of failure. 5e reinforces this approach.

Second, not all failure result in death. Minor to moderate screw-ups happen often, only, they don't result in the patient's death. Usually, they will take longer to heal, will have to stay longer in the hospital due to a bad reaction with meds/anesthetics, or will need surgery again.

Third, surgeons have access to masterwork tools. They are not operating out in the field. A fully equipped ER would grant advantage in 5e.

Fourth, surgeons are assisted by a full medical staff. For the surgery to fumble, both the surgeon and their team should roll 1s.

Fifth, people DO die on the operation table. Sometimes it's because the surgeon did screw-up.

So, yeah. Not 5% of all patient would die out of of a auto-failed check of 1. I call bull**** on that.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
FWIW, another issue with these types of systems is it makes AC 20 and 21 identical, because if you get a 20 on the first roll, you can't get less than a 1 on the second. If you want to say a 1 on the second is a miss, then AC 20 and 22 become identical since your minimum roll which would hit would be a 2...

To make it work, later rolls need to be 0-19 (or d20-1).

I think a nice way would also be to have the secondary post-20 roll be a proficiency die (+2 = d4, +3 = d6, etc.), because otherwise your chances of hitting higher ACs are almost guaranteed after the first 20. Which is probably why they don't do roll a second d20 and add to the first 20...

With bounded accuracy are there many cases where rolling a 29 would miss or a -9 would hit? If not, then using a commonly marked 0-9 d10 would work easily. The roll could make it 2_ or -_ .
 

LoganRan

Explorer
I don't play 5E any longer but I liked the simplicity of Advantage/Disadvantage. The K.I.S.S. principle is a personal mantra for me and Ad/Dis aligns well with that philosophy.

I hate both Crits and Fumbles. I agree that if you are going to use Crits you should use Fumbles as well but I personally have never liked Critical Hits. Crits really are not even necessary unless you are using fixed damage for weapons as the varying results of the damage dice roll indicate if an attack was a mere scratch (i.e. 1 point on the damage die) or a critical hit (max value on the damage die).

EDIT: Kinda off topic but I am in ranting mood so...I have always disliked using a linear d20 for task resolution. I prefer systems like HERO or Fantasy Age which use 3d6 for task resolution to generate a more reliable range of values. I think critical hits/fumbles would actually make more sense using 3d6 because it is actually harder to roll a '3' or an '18' unlike on the d20 where there is no difference in the probability of rolling a '20' over any other value.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
EDIT: Kinda off topic but I am in ranting mood so...I have always disliked using a linear d20 for task resolution. I prefer systems like HERO or Fantasy Age which use 3d6 for task resolution to generate a more reliable range of values. I think critical hits/fumbles would actually make more sense using 3d6 because it is actually harder to roll a '3' or an '18' unlike on the d20 where there is no difference in the probability of rolling a '20' over any other value.
I don't have my books handy so I can't check, but isn't there a set of optional rules in the 5E DMG for using 3d6 in place of a d20 roll? or am I mis-remembering that?
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
With bounded accuracy are there many cases where rolling a 29 would miss or a -9 would hit? If not, then using a commonly marked 0-9 d10 would work easily. The roll could make it 2_ or -_ .
Off-hand I can't think of anything in the game that has a base AC above 29, and the lowest AC IIRC is 5, so you will only miss that if you have really big penalties.

Of course with magic items and spells, at higher levels you can get ACs greater than 29, but I don't know if any would be "always" on.

The best I can think off (of the top of my head) is a Wizard proficient in heavy armor and shield (plate +3, shield +3) with COP +1 and ROP +1 would be a base AC 28. At 18th level you could do shield every round, for a semi-permanent AC 33. But even then with the 0-9 d10 and a +4 bonus (almost the established minimum), you could still hit AC 33.

There might be powerful fiends or maybe Tiamat??? with AC above 29, I really don't know.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I don't have my books handy so I can't check, but isn't there a set of optional rules in the 5E DMG for using 3d6 in place of a d20 roll? or am I mis-remembering that?
I don't recall ever seeing it, but it is a commonly used replacement of course, we are using 2d10 at present for everything except initiative.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
EDIT: Kinda off topic but I am in ranting mood so...I have always disliked using a linear d20 for task resolution. I prefer systems like HERO or Fantasy Age which use 3d6 for task resolution to generate a more reliable range of values. I think critical hits/fumbles would actually make more sense using 3d6 because it is actually harder to roll a '3' or an '18' unlike on the d20 where there is no difference in the probability of rolling a '20' over any other value.
GURPS uses 3d6 as well.

And i have to say, I always REALLY want to like this approach. It's easy, it's intuitive and, as you say, it has a much more reliable range of value. But:

I've honestly never had a "fun" game of GURPS - and man we've tried. I've GM'd, my friends have GM'd played several games at Gen Con - and it always feels like something is just missing.

Current hypothesis is I'm just too conditioned to needing/rolling multiple dice to have a fulfilling game experience (Never really had a fun Vampire/Werewolf game either - though that may be for totally different reasons!) - well it's a working theory.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
GURPS uses 3d6 as well.

And i have to say, I always REALLY want to like this approach. It's easy, it's intuitive and, as you say, it has a much more reliable range of value. But:

I've honestly never had a "fun" game of GURPS - and man we've tried. I've GM'd, my friends have GM'd played several games at Gen Con - and it always feels like something is just missing.

Current hypothesis is I'm just too conditioned to needing/rolling multiple dice to have a fulfilling game experience (Never really had a fun Vampire/Werewolf game either - though that may be for totally different reasons!) - well it's a working theory.
I have honestly found running other games like Shadowrun, Vampire, WEG Star Wars, and others more challenging than D&D in any edition. We had fun and have played them on and off for decades, but they never have engaged me as much as either player or DM.
 

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