Headshots?

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I'm a new DM and my ranger frequently wants to target a specific bodypart or item an enemy is holding.  Stupid example, the enemy had chainmail on but no helmet and he wants to try and shoot for the face.  How do you handle something like this?  Is it a harder attack roll or is it ANOTHER attack roll? Do you still take AC into account? 


 


   I like to encourage them to be creative and do stuff like this so I don't just want to refuse, but at the same time I want to make it difficult enough that they aren't trying to pull it off every turn.


 


Any ideas?

Any time a character attacks another character you can assume, unless they state otherwise, that they are attempting a lethal strike. If a ranger shoots at someone, they are always shooting at his head or heart or other vital organs. If the shot kills that creature, you can say that they completely succeeded at their killing shot. If it doesn't, then you simply say that the creature dodged slightly or that some item or natural defense slightly deflected the shot, and that the arrow hit but not in the lethal way originally intended.


Allowing insta-kill called shots at specific body parts is generally a terrible idea, regardless of how high you make the difficulty

That makes sense.  How about if they're trying to cut someone's hand off or something similar to that?  Specific target, not an instant kill but something interesting going on?

There are no called shots under standard D&D rules. In general it is a bad idea to implement them as it is a tricky rule to balance.


The assumption that all combatants are trying to be as effective as possible, making the lucky extra-effective shot a critical, is a common fluff justification for this choice.


Also, by 3.5 rules at least, most suits of armor include a helmet, gauntlets, etc. when appropriate, which you can optionally replace. So the senario that the player gave shouldn't have to happen.

AC and HP are abstractions that take this sort of thing into account. I say if he wants to shoot it in the head, he shoots it in the head. Don't give him any extra damage for it though.

What about taking off a hand or maybe a bag or something hanging from a belt?

Allowing insta-kill called shots at specific body parts is generally a terrible idea, regardless of how high you make the difficulty


You forgot, in my opinion.  Why is this such a *terrible* idea?  In my opinion, I'm pretty sure if you shoot someone through the eye or in the face with an arrow, it's either going to kill them or take them out of a battle.  The penalties to do such an act would be extremely high, but if one manages to hit, it makes it all the more satisfying to know that you succeeded.  Why is this such a terrible idea?


What about taking off a hand or maybe a bag or something hanging from a belt?




Sounds like a thievery/pickpocket roll. The Rogue has a utility for that sort of thing, perhaps your ranger can multiclass.

What about taking off a hand


When you reduce a creature to 0 hp or less, you already get the option to knock him out or kill him. Essentially, taking a creature down to 0 hp should effectively defeat that creature even if it lives. When the player takes the creature down to 0 hp, just say that he chops off his hand and the creature surrenders as a result of his grevious wounds.

or maybe a bag or something hanging from a belt?





Thievery skill check.
<\ \>tuntman

What about taking off a hand or maybe a bag or something hanging from a belt?

You're making this harder than it needs to be.  Here's a simple system that does what you want it to do. 

                  Headshot: -10 to hit
                 Hand/Foot:   -8
                    Arm/Leg:  -6    
                         Torso:   -4


           Random Item: Adjudicate using above examples based on circumstances.  Usually anywhere from -2 to -10 depending  on size and conditions.


I would not worry about AC as this would be abstracted into the penalty to hit.  Just make something up and go with it, taking into account conditions, lighting, etc.

So for example:


DM:  As the battle rages on around you, you notice that the evil necromancer reaches into his tunic and pulls forth an object which appears to be some type of rod or sceptre and starts chanting in some unrecognizable dialect.  Ranger, it's your turn, what are you doing?


Ranger:  I'm going to try and shoot that rod thingy from his hand.  It looks important and he probably needs it to complete whatever it is he's doing.


DM: Okay, you can certainly try that, but you're going to take a penalty to hit.  Quickly figures out penalty.

It sounds like your player wants to do "real life things" that you would see in a movie. 


I would make up a few special powers for him, if they don't already exist. The ability to shoot an item off of someone's belt or such, might be an encounter power.


The ability to shoot someone in the head, a daily power, where the target is stunned or dazed or such until save. I know sounds weird, making a save can allow someone to recover from being shot in the head, but the game is about balance for both sides.


Or make shooting something off of a belt a basic ranged attack, and pick an AC. If it's in the middle of combat, increase the AC. But it's a standard action, which can't be reduced to a minor through any feat or power, and does no damage. 


It's understandable what the player wants to do, he wants to be a cool ranger that does the kind of things he's read and seen. But to give him extra like that outside of powers or such could over power him, compared to the other players. 


It sounds like your player wants to do "real life things" that you would see in a movie. 


I would make up a few special powers for him, if they don't already exist. The ability to shoot an item off of someone's belt or such, might be an encounter power.


The ability to shoot someone in the head, a daily power, where the target is stunned or dazed or such until save. I know sounds weird, making a save can allow someone to recover from being shot in the head, but the game is about balance for both sides.


Or make shooting something off of a belt a basic ranged attack, and pick an AC. If it's in the middle of combat, increase the AC. But it's a standard action, which can't be reduced to a minor through any feat or power, and does no damage. 


It's understandable what the player wants to do, he wants to be a cool ranger that does the kind of things he's read and seen. But to give him extra like that outside of powers or such could over power him, compared to the other players.


If you use a standard "penalty to hit system", how does that make him overpowerd as opposed to someone else?  Why can't the fighter chuck his sword through someone if he wants ala Conan?  It's not practical or advisable, but why shouldn't he have that option?  Everyone has the same penalty to their chances, thus not being unbalanced.

Making it a power seems to be more work that it needs to be.  A simple penalty to hit achieves the same result and keeps the game going and puts less work on the DM having to devise powers that cover things that can easily be adjudicated via a simple die roll.


If you use a standard "penalty to hit system", how does that make him overpowerd as opposed to someone else?  Why can't the fighter chuck his sword through someone if he wants ala Conan?  It's not practical or advisable, but why shouldn't he have that option?  Everyone has the same penalty to their chances, thus not being unbalanced.

Making it a power seems to be more work that it needs to be.  A simple penalty to hit achieves the same result and keeps the game going and puts less work on the DM having to devise powers that cover things that can easily be adjudicated via a simple die roll.





A power can be analysed better for balance issues, and access to it can be managed by the Encounter/Daily models.

It's tougher to keep a general penalty/advantage system consistent and in check.


If the players only want to do this sometimes, or surprise me with an idea for their action, yes I'd do something similar (or make it an additional "stunt" based on a stat roll or skill). But if a player wanted to do something regularly, or have a standard manuever as a character concept, I'd like to make more effort at checking the balance issues.


 


 


Allowing insta-kill called shots at specific body parts is generally a terrible idea, regardless of how high you make the difficulty


You forgot, in my opinion.  Why is this such a *terrible* idea?  In my opinion, I'm pretty sure if you shoot someone through the eye or in the face with an arrow, it's either going to kill them or take them out of a battle.  The penalties to do such an act would be extremely high, but if one manages to hit, it makes it all the more satisfying to know that you succeeded.  Why is this such a terrible idea?




Because Called Shot rules, particularly (especially) the ones that attempt to add "realism" to the game in the form of serious and/or permanent wounds and/or instant death, are hard to balance in D&D.  There have been, and will be, plenty of threads discussing the issue, but I'll summarize some of the main points.

Primarily, Called Shots are hard to balance because they penalize players more than monsters.  D&D is a combat heavy game where PCs will face hundreds of foes in their careers.  Monsters only exist "on screen" long enough to perform their narrative role and more often than not exist to die (narratively speaking), so a Called Shot on a monster matters very little to them in the grand scheme of things.  PCs, however, are in it for the long haul.  Each round of each encounter with one of those hundreds of foes is a potentially broken limb, lost organ, or instant death.


But there are other difficulties to crafting a Called Shot system.  If you make Called Shots easy or moderately difficult to achieve, PCs will come off worse off because, as stated above, they face the brunt of combats.  If you make them too hard to achieve, the rules potentially may come up so rarely in-game that the rules effectively add nothing to the gaming experience.  If you make the penalties too steep (such as a loss of a limb) you risk crippling the character for the rest of his career or out-right killing it; and arbitrary deaths typically are not fun for a player.  If you add resources to allow the restoration of grievous injuries (such as an Regeneration ritual or the like), if you make them too scarce, it can become an annoyance to seek them out after every run-in with a Called Shot.  If you make them too readily available, you make the whole Called Shot system arbitrary as it no longer adds the grittier realism that most seek out such systems for.


That's not to say that Called Shots systems are impossible to craft or implement successfully in D&D.  However, most attempts fail to take the above into consideration, succumb to one of the traps listed above, and fall short (grievously so more often than not) of being a balance subsystem.  Typically, the best a Called Shot system can due is fit the wants of a very small population of gamers.  No Called Shot systems, AFAIK, has met with wide acceptance from the general D&D gaming population (unless you want to argue Critical Hits are Called Shot system, but I digress).

Thinking about creating a race for 4e? Make things a lil' easier on yourself by reading my Race Mechanic Creation Guide first.

Not to mention, Called Shot is a paragon tier feat that gives +5 to damage, if you are close enoug to get a class feature accuracy bonus.

 If you use a standard "penalty to hit system", how does that make him overpowerd as opposed to someone else?  Why can't the fighter chuck his sword through someone if he wants ala Conan?  It's not practical or advisable, but why shouldn't he have that option?  Everyone has the same penalty to their chances, thus not being unbalanced.

Making it a power seems to be more work that it needs to be.  A simple penalty to hit achieves the same result and keeps the game going and puts less work on the DM having to devise powers that cover things that can easily be adjudicated via a simple die roll.




4E has taken away a lot of the penalty aspects of combat. If someone wants to do something creative on the spur of the moment, yes, come up with a chance based on what you think the difficulty is. 

But it sounds like this player wants to be able to do it a lot. 


And how is making up powers that give him the ability to do what he wants, within the structure of the game, not giving him options. It's giving him the exact option he wants. 


I don't find your system the best solution. It lessens the players power abilities. -8 to hit a hand? If you make it a basic ranged attack, that means that such a thing is basically useless until they are at least +9 to hit, because otherwise, they are at a negative to hit. That's not fun


DM: sure, I'll give you a chance to hit him in the hand, you have a -8 to hit, make a basic ranged attack.


Player: But I only have a +7 to hit, that means a -1 to whatever I roll?


DM: yeah, but you make him drop the rod.


Player: Never mind, I would rather use my turn to do damage, since I have a better chance of doing that, then wasting my turn.


So you've basically just penalized the player for trying to be heroic. As a power, with limited use, he can be heroic and but not over powered. With such a system in place, it can mean players start looking for every single way to increase their to hit bonus, because then they can optimize those extra options for combat. 


And what if the player starts wanting to use powers when making these called shots? 


When you put a new system in place, players are going to want to use it, and to take advantage of it as much as possible, and find ways to expand on that. Such a system can easily unbalance the game play. And more so, can monsters make the same called shots? Because a player isn't going to be too happy to be shot in the hand or head. 


 

Just use it for flavor when you crit. I think what you're looking for in a headshot is an auto crit, which will never fly. Hence the RRoT nerf.


 


Though, you can flavor Hunter's Quarry or Sneak Attack into doing this. That's essentially what those are anyway, finding the soft spots for extra damage.

So, Gabe of Penny Arcade had someone make a called shot on someone; they wanted to cut off a hand holding a dagger.  The NPC was going to kill themselves, and so the person asked, "can I cut off their hand?", and Gabe asked them to make a Dex check.  They rolled wonderfully, and severed the hand, preserving the NPC (which was also a cultist) so they could be interrogated.


I think that's a wonderful idea.  But that's just me.

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]


So, Gabe of Penny Arcade had someone make a called shot on someone; they wanted to cut off a hand holding a dagger.  The NPC was going to kill themselves, and so the person asked, "can I cut off their hand?", and Gabe asked them to make a Dex check.  They rolled wonderfully, and severed the hand, preserving the NPC (which was also a cultist) so they could be interrogated.


I think that's a wonderful idea.  But that's just me.




It's great. It's dramatic.


But you should think twice before taking that ad-hoc dex roll and declaring it a standard combat option that any character can use at any time.


 

When a player wants to do something creative, what does he really want to do? It may be for dramatic effect, but often the player wants to find a way to take an enemy down faster than is possible using the powers he has. If the reason is to take an enemy down sooner or debilitate him better than normal, the situation is the same as a player asking if he can be more powerful than he currently is.

Exorcism of Steel is a level 17 fighter encounter attack power that disarms an enemy. When a player playing a level 5 fighter asks if he can disarm an enemy, he is asking if you can give a level 5 fighter a level 17 power in addition to all powers that level 5 fighter already has. That strikes me as being overpowered. Most likely, the player wants to be able to attempt this more than once per encounter. If a player who is level 5 asks if he can use a level 17 power (that may be from another class), I tell him he cannot.

Stuff like head shots and chopping off a limb or two strike me as things that can defeat an enemy more easily than reducing it to 0 hp depending on what you determine the effects of a success would be. Chopping off a hand is equivalent to Exorcism of Steel if the enemy actually has another free hand (not using a shield) to pick up the weapon. If he does not or the other hand is occupied, the effect is even more powerful than a level 17 power.

I'm not sure what players expect head shots will actually do. I think that some players expect head shots to be instant kills. Some may expect it to stun or daze. Others may expect more damage. If they want to do more damage, tell them to use a power that deals more damage than an at-will. If they want to stun or daze, tell them to use a power that does that and then if successful, describe it as hitting the enemy in the head. If they are expecting instant kills, I think you need to put the brakes on this. There is a reason why none of the instant kill effects from previous editions made it into 4E.
<\ \>tuntman


 Headshot: -10 to hit 


 Hand/Foot:   -8 


 Arm/Leg:   -6     
  Torso:   -4


 




 


Congrats, you've just given the Avenger a massive powerup--his oath of enmity means that he'll be targeting torso or arms/legs at roughly the same accuracy as another character making an ordinary attack.


 


And therein lies the problem with introducing new systems like this--it is very, *very* easy to forget to consider a certain power or mechanic, and therefore inadvertently introduce a broken and severely imbalancing mechanic into your game.



So, Gabe of Penny Arcade had someone make a called shot on someone; they wanted to cut off a hand holding a dagger.  The NPC was going to kill themselves, and so the person asked, "can I cut off their hand?", and Gabe asked them to make a Dex check.  They rolled wonderfully, and severed the hand, preserving the NPC (which was also a cultist) so they could be interrogated.


I think that's a wonderful idea.  But that's just me.




It's great. It's dramatic.


But you should think twice before taking that ad-hoc dex roll and declaring it a standard combat option that any character can use at any time.


 




 


True.  It shouldn't be all the time, and it might be good to use a higher level "hard" DC.  Like for 1st level characters trying to pull that off, I would probably set 20 as a DC.

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
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58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]

You forgot, in my opinion.  Why is this such a *terrible* idea?  In my opinion, I'm pretty sure if you shoot someone through the eye or in the face with an arrow, it's either going to kill them or take them out of a battle.  The penalties to do such an act would be extremely high, but if one manages to hit, it makes it all the more satisfying to know that you succeeded.  Why is this such a terrible idea?


Because it violates the fundamental assumptions that underpin the system.


To the OP:  You're *always* shooting for the vital bits, or the unarmored bits.  The thing you need to remind your PCs of is that the hit roll does NOT determine where you shot the guy.  The hit roll determines if you hit.  The DAMAGE roll determines where you shot him.


If a guy has 3HP left and you crit him for 50, congratulations.  You hit him *in the eye* and he's not just dead, he's megadead.  That's like dead, but twice.


If a guy has 300 HP and you crit him for 50, you probably dropped the shot into his shoulder or thigh or something - a very serious but non-fatal wound.


If a guy has 1500 HP and you crit him for 50, that's a flesh wound.


 


If a player wants a called shot for damage, this is how you handle it.  A standard attack, standard damage, and the more serious *the results of the attack are*, the closer you get to the as-described as-desired instant-kill.


 


If a player wants a called shot for a different reason - say, he wants to use his crossbow to shoot the evil ritual book out of the enemy caster's hand and thus end the ritual - then the best thing to do is roll a normal hit with whatever attack he wants to use, and if he hits, either give him what he wants (and no damage) or have him roll damage and use the damage as the DC of a check the target makes to prevent the effect from happening.  In short, it's an Action The Rules Don't Cover, so check out DMG1 pg 42, consider What Would Be The Most Awesome Thing That Could Happen, and run with it.

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You forgot, in my opinion.  Why is this such a *terrible* idea?  In my opinion, I'm pretty sure if you shoot someone through the eye or in the face with an arrow, it's either going to kill them or take them out of a battle.  The penalties to do such an act would be extremely high, but if one manages to hit, it makes it all the more satisfying to know that you succeeded.  Why is this such a terrible idea?


Because it violates the fundamental assumptions that underpin the system.


To the OP:  You're *always* shooting for the vital bits, or the unarmored bits.  The thing you need to remind your PCs of is that the hit roll does NOT determine where you shot the guy.  The hit roll determines if you hit.  The DAMAGE roll determines where you shot him.


If a guy has 3HP left and you crit him for 50, congratulations.  You hit him *in the eye* and he's not just dead, he's megadead.  That's like dead, but twice.


If a guy has 300 HP and you crit him for 50, you probably dropped the shot into his shoulder or thigh or something - a very serious but non-fatal wound.


If a guy has 1500 HP and you crit him for 50, that's a flesh wound.


 


If a player wants a called shot for damage, this is how you handle it.  A standard attack, standard damage, and the more serious *the results of the attack are*, the closer you get to the as-described as-desired instant-kill.


 


If a player wants a called shot for a different reason - say, he wants to use his crossbow to shoot the evil ritual book out of the enemy caster's hand and thus end the ritual - then the best thing to do is roll a normal hit with whatever attack he wants to use, and if he hits, either give him what he wants (and no damage) or have him roll damage and use the damage as the DC of a check the target makes to prevent the effect from happening.  In short, it's an Action The Rules Don't Cover, so check out DMG1 pg 42, consider What Would Be The Most Awesome Thing That Could Happen, and run with it.




What Would Be The Most Awesome Thing That Could Happen: you crit while shooting for the book, and the arrow passes through the book and into the guy holding it, causing the max damage like a normal crit would.  The guy dies with the ritual book pinned to him, the runes of said book soaking up the blood as the evil guy speaks his last word, the final word of the ritual.  The ritual finished, the evil guy's torso splits in two, and the evil he was summoning starts to emerge from his flesh.


The players say curse words and brace themselves for the battle they had hopped to avoid, their one chance to stop this creature before it ramages across the world . . .


Laughing IS that too over the top?  I can never tell.

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]

When a player wants to do something creative, what does he really want to do? It may be for dramatic effect, but often the player wants to find a way to take an enemy down faster than is possible using the powers he has. If the reason is to take an enemy down sooner or debilitate him better than normal, the situation is the same as a player asking if he can be more powerful than he currently is. Exorcism of Steel is a level 17 fighter encounter attack power that disarms an enemy. When a player playing a level 5 fighter asks if he can disarm an enemy, he is asking if you can give a level 5 fighter a level 17 power in addition to all powers that level 5 fighter already has. That strikes me as being overpowered. Most likely, the player wants to be able to attempt this more than once per encounter. If a player who is level 5 asks if he can use a level 17 power (that may be from another class), I tell him he cannot. Stuff like head shots and chopping off a limb or two strike me as things that can defeat an enemy more easily than reducing it to 0 hp depending on what you determine the effects of a success would be. Chopping off a hand is equivalent to Exorcism of Steel if the enemy actually has another free hand (not using a shield) to pick up the weapon. If he does not or the other hand is occupied, the effect is even more powerful than a level 17 power. I'm not sure what players expect head shots will actually do. I think that some players expect head shots to be instant kills. Some may expect it to stun or daze. Others may expect more damage. If they want to do more damage, tell them to use a power that deals more damage than an at-will. If they want to stun or daze, tell them to use a power that does that and then if successful, describe it as hitting the enemy in the head. If they are expecting instant kills, I think you need to put the brakes on this. There is a reason why none of the instant kill effects from previous editions made it into 4E.


Well stated.

Exorcism of Steel is a level 17 fighter encounter attack power that disarms an enemy. When a player playing a level 5 fighter asks if he can disarm an enemy, he is asking if you can give a level 5 fighter a level 17 power in addition to all powers that level 5 fighter already has. That strikes me as being overpowered.


Only if he can damage the enemy, disarm him, and take the weapon as it falls.


I would let him disarm the enemy with a two part skill check, one of Wisdom vs. the target's Will defense (to try to ascertain the perfect point to disarm the target), and the second a Dexterity check vs. the target's Reflex (to get the weapon out of the target's hand).  If the target was wielding the weapon two handed, the Dex check would have a -5 penalty to it. All of this would be done as a standard action.


If the Character misses the Wis check, all he's done is waste his standard action. If the character missed the Dex check, the target would get the equivalent of an opportunity attack. If he beat both checks, the target would be disarmed; the weapon would be tossed two squares in a direction of my choosing.  Unless they also wanted to spend their minor action to make an Athlectics check versus a level appropriate DC of my choosing to try and direct the weapon; the weapon would still travel two squares from the enemy, but the player character would get to choose the direction.


Oh, and the player wouldn't get to try for a disarm if they were wielding a weapon with reach.

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]

In short, it's an Action The Rules Don't Cover, so check out DMG1 pg 42, consider What Would Be The Most Awesome Thing That Could Happen, and run with it.


What Would Be The Most Awesome Thing That Could Happen: you crit while shooting for the book, and the arrow passes through the book and into the guy holding it, causing the max damage like a normal crit would.  The guy dies with the ritual book pinned to him, the runes of said book soaking up the blood as the evil guy speaks his last word, the final word of the ritual.  The ritual finished, the evil guy's torso splits in two, and the evil he was summoning starts to emerge from his flesh.


The players say curse words and brace themselves for the battle they had hopped to avoid, their one chance to stop this creature before it ramages across the world . . .


IS that too over the top?  I can never tell.


If your players *agree* that this is the most awesome thing possible, then it's totally correct and absolutely cool.

If your players *swear* at you because, by attempting to prevent this outcome using entirely sane and reasonable methods, they've just guaranteed it?  No, that ain't cool, and you fail D&D forever.


There are a number of intermediate positions that I haven't listed.

Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.


In short, it's an Action The Rules Don't Cover, so check out DMG1 pg 42, consider What Would Be The Most Awesome Thing That Could Happen, and run with it.


What Would Be The Most Awesome Thing That Could Happen: you crit while shooting for the book, and the arrow passes through the book and into the guy holding it, causing the max damage like a normal crit would.  The guy dies with the ritual book pinned to him, the runes of said book soaking up the blood as the evil guy speaks his last word, the final word of the ritual.  The ritual finished, the evil guy's torso splits in two, and the evil he was summoning starts to emerge from his flesh.


The players say curse words and brace themselves for the battle they had hopped to avoid, their one chance to stop this creature before it ramages across the world . . .


IS that too over the top?  I can never tell.



If your players *agree* that this is the most awesome thing possible, then it's totally correct and absolutely cool.


If your players *swear* at you because, by attempting to prevent this outcome using entirely sane and reasonable methods, they've just guaranteed it?  No, that ain't cool, and you fail D&D forever.


There are a number of intermediate positions that I haven't listed.




Of course, of course, which is why the alternate could happen.


What Would Be The Most Awesome Thing That Could Happen, Take 2: you crit while shooting for the book, and the arrow passes through the book and into the guy holding it, causing the max damage like a normal crit would.  The guy dies with the ritual book pinned to him, his last words being, "My Lord Bane, forgive me . . .".  Now the players know who has tried to orchestrate their deaths, and it's time to target the head of this whole thing: The God of Conquest himself.


Laughing


 

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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]

Hm, how about this. Since HP is a abstract concept, and means much more than simple "life remaining", you can allow called shots when the monster is already dying.


The player might attempt the called shot at any given time, but you'll need be sutil and tell him that he didn't get it, because the monster is still strong and combat aware; that he's got his reflexes up and running, so he managed to avoid it.


I think this would work better if you didn't reveal the monster's HP to the players. You'd discribe his condition and allow/deny the attempt.


So, if a monster has around 10HP (or less, random number here), you should let (every now and then) the player to insta kill, take an eye or limb off. I think that'd add some excitement to the game, some gory scenes to be remembered. I don't think that'd unbalance the game too much.


I say you apply a penalty to the roll anyway, just to make it more exciting.


What do you guys think?

So, if a monster has around 10HP (or less, random number here), you should let (every now and then) the player to insta kill, take an eye or limb off. I think that'd add some excitement to the game, some gory scenes to be remembered. I don't think that'd unbalance the game too much.

I say you apply a penalty to the roll anyway, just to make it more exciting.


What do you guys think?


I think you're better off just describing a killshot as a killshot, and a failed killshot *which is what every other attack is*, as a failed instant-kill shot.

Sheesh.


When the target runs out of HP, you stab it in the heart, cut off it's head, or shoot it in it's favourite kidneys.  Until then, you missed.  How complicated is that?

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Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.


Allowing insta-kill called shots at specific body parts is generally a terrible idea, regardless of how high you make the difficulty


You forgot, in my opinion.  Why is this such a *terrible* idea?  In my opinion, I'm pretty sure if you shoot someone through the eye or in the face with an arrow, it's either going to kill them or take them out of a battle.  The penalties to do such an act would be extremely high, but if one manages to hit, it makes it all the more satisfying to know that you succeeded.  Why is this such a terrible idea?




Except the problem is that very quickly it puts us back in the area of rocket launcher tag. The party gives works out a way to give their sharpshooter the biggest bonus to hit they can, and are able to easily trivialize encounters. Conversely, it also makes things horrible for players, monsters that have a fairly good bonus to hit they are fairly likely to die almost automatically.


The reason why it is bad is that it makes every weapon a save or die, and it also flies in the face of logic. When I'm attacking someone I'm generally doing whatever I can to take them down into the best/most efficient way possible, which means attacking vulnerable spots and aiming in a way to maximize damage. It would be sort of like saying "On the skill check to read the book I'm going to open it, that should let me read the whole thing in five secons" Yeah, I know it isn't a perfect analogy, but it's the best I can come up with at this hour.

Sean K. Reynolds, one of the 3E developers, wrote a column about why 'called shots' were considered and discarded as a bad idea in the design of 3E. It's still generally applicable to 4E, even if the particulars of the mechanics have changed a little bit: www.seankreynolds.com/rpgfiles/rants/cal...

"If you could just knock his sword out of his hand then I wouldn't even be bothering to run the fight, he'd be weak enough that I'd just describe you kicking his ass"


 ^that's what you should say when they ask if they can disarm because they're looking for a mechanical advantage imo


"You knock his sword away, and the vampire hisses and leaps for your throat!"


^what you should say if they want to disarm for a story/cinematic reason imo (possibly with less vampire obviously)

I totally agree that a general called shot system is a horrible idea. The players will figure out a way to game it into a way to get insta-kills one way or another. Look at the issues with the orbizard already, it just ends up being something like that. The whole mechanic will look fine at first glance, but it WILL be exploitable.


There is another side to it though. Sometimes it is dramatic and cool and reasonable for a PC to want to perform a "William Tell" kind of maneuver like shooting the book out of the evil wizard's hand, etc. These things are just plain stunts. If the DC is set appropriately (maybe just simply using the opponents REF defense) then the player can make a non-damaging attack that achieves a specific effect. If they fail they can suffer a penalty. Mainly you just need to work out the numbers so that its generally better to use your normal attacks, but in some critical moment you can pull off something cool, if you get lucky.


This is one of the great things about page 42. It opens up a way to allow cool stuff, and if something is allowed then the DM can always take control of how hard it is and thus make sure it succeeds or fails when the story needs that to happen.

That is not dead which may eternal lie

It's all fun till the day this happens,


DM: The Orc Archer draws back his bow and takes careful aim at the paladin. He seems to be aim specifically at your head.


Paladin: What? I've got a helmet on!


DM: I've taken that into consideration. Oh, a natural 20. The arrow has entered your eye, and you are quite dead. rest assured, your friends will do their best to comfort your family.


Player: Surprised Cry


Then called shots aren't so much fun.

Headshot !


ULTRAKILL!

Lordofweasel, I don't think you get my idea. You're not supposed to let the player know the mob's HP, so that he *thinks* he instakilled the mob, which is something he *wanted* to do, but isn't covered/supported by the standard rules. This way you make it possible without ruining the system.



I don't know if you're a player or a DM, but whenever a player manages to pull something really cool during a fight, it just not boosts his morale, but also creates nice stories to look back at.


The functionality doesn't reallt matters, as long as everyone is having fun.

The way I see it, 4e's general system didn't take called shots into consideration for the sake of balance but we do have p.42 of the DMG for skills and ability checks not covered in the normal system.  All we have to do is make this a skill challenge with DC set to high.


The most appropriate skill I suppose would be Acrobatics, since it's a very tricky stunt to pull off (even if you execute it like a normal attack) and it'd be keyed off the stat that's most appropriate for pinpoint accuracy: DEX.  The DC could be, at Heroic, something like 15 + target's Reflex defense, maybe 20 + target's Reflex defense for a headshot (and the interesting part here is that even at a natural 20, unless there's a homebrew rule allowing auto-success on a 20, if your Acrobatics is low you might still be unable to make that called shot).  Then on a successful hit, the reward would vary upon the situation:


Let's say we have a level 1 ranger aiming to aim for an Orc Shaman's head.  Assuming that the shaman would have 14 Ref, that means it would be a DC 29 and even with training, maybe +2 bonus to acrobatics, and a starting DEX of 20, he would still need a roll of 17 or higher to actually pull off the stunt.  If he does pull it off and I was DMing the game, I'd say the shaman earns a hefty damage... maybe something like 1[W] + a random effect (dazed, stunned, unconscious, prone) save ends, 2[W] at level 21?  I would definitely rule that it's a very, VERY difficult attack whose purpose is to pretty much knock out the target, at least temporarily.


If the level 1 ranger aimed for the shaman's wand, maybe it would be a DC 24 instead, with one of four random effects:



  • shaman loses a minor action [he drops the wand and automatically takes a minor action to regain it]

  • slide shaman 1 square and loses a minor action [wand is flung away and he carefully moves towards the wand to pick it up]

  • shaman is dazed until the end of his next turn [he becomes confused because his wand disappeared... somewhere]

  • and shaman is knocked prone and loses a minor action [he tries to look for the wand, finds it but is unable to get back up on time

Basically try to allow the player to make these difficult shots and reward them for it but make sure that the bar is set high enough (or make it situational enough) to discourage spamming these unusual attacks.


Another way to do it would be to simply apply penalties to the attack rolls, with the rewards varying on the shot (which would always be a basic ranged attack):



  • very difficult shot: -6, +6 to damage

  • difficult shot: -4, +4 to damage

  • above average shot: -2, +2 to damage

  • normal shot: 0, no bonus

Effects, if at all, would be determined by the DM.


 


Oh and by the way, here's a little trivia: there ARE situations where even a bullet (or a crossbow bolt) to the skull won't kill a person.  At least, not immediately [while the brain matter hasn't been severely messed up or what not].  In fact, some say Abraham Lincoln could've lived through his assassination if the surgeons didn't go about poking through his brain looking for the bullet... and then you have people who live because whatever was shot into or through their skull stayed there, preventing blood and brain matter from spilling all over the place.


And that's in real life; I wouldn't be surprised if in a fantasy world somebody could skewer a dagger into your heroic head and you'd still be able to fight in full form as if that little thing on your head was a headpiece you're wearing and not a weapon that's embedded in your cranium.

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I'd go with size-related to-hit penalties or armour class increase for trying to hit a small thing.
Have a butcher's at the 3rd edition and you'll see how much harder small things are to hit compared to large stuff. (Head? Sure, that's a tiny target (add x to target AC or subtract x from attack roll), want to hit the eye? Sure, that's an even smaller target (even bigger penalty to hit)


And players will quickly learn that most of the time, it isn't worth the effort. If for anything, it'd mostly be for the sadistical pleasure of evil players.

I'd go with size-related to-hit penalties or armour class increase for trying to hit a small thing.
Have a butcher's at the 3rd edition and you'll see how much harder small things are to hit compared to large stuff. (Head? Sure, that's a tiny target (add x to target AC or subtract x from attack roll), want to hit the eye? Sure, that's an even smaller target (even bigger penalty to hit)


Unless the to-hit bonuses are so high that it is literally impossible to make the shot except with a natural 20, this is going to be abusable. Say you're at -10 to hit, for example--just take a half-elven avenger with twin strike, so he rolls 4 times a round, and have the party buff the hell out of his attack bonus using every feat, power, item and tactic imaginable. Ignore damage completely, because with an insta-kill shot you just need to hit. It really isn't going to be that hard to build a headshot machine who just instakills most of the enemies you fight.

I was gonna post my own opinion, but this guy basically nailed it.


 



You forgot, in my opinion.  Why is this such a *terrible* idea?  In my opinion, I'm pretty sure if you shoot someone through the eye or in the face with an arrow, it's either going to kill them or take them out of a battle.  The penalties to do such an act would be extremely high, but if one manages to hit, it makes it all the more satisfying to know that you succeeded.  Why is this such a terrible idea?


Because it violates the fundamental assumptions that underpin the system.


To the OP:  You're *always* shooting for the vital bits, or the unarmored bits.  The thing you need to remind your PCs of is that the hit roll does NOT determine where you shot the guy.  The hit roll determines if you hit.  The DAMAGE roll determines where you shot him.


If a guy has 3HP left and you crit him for 50, congratulations.  You hit him *in the eye* and he's not just dead, he's megadead.  That's like dead, but twice.


If a guy has 300 HP and you crit him for 50, you probably dropped the shot into his shoulder or thigh or something - a very serious but non-fatal wound.


If a guy has 1500 HP and you crit him for 50, that's a flesh wound.


 


If a player wants a called shot for damage, this is how you handle it.  A standard attack, standard damage, and the more serious *the results of the attack are*, the closer you get to the as-described as-desired instant-kill.


 


If a player wants a called shot for a different reason - say, he wants to use his crossbow to shoot the evil ritual book out of the enemy caster's hand and thus end the ritual - then the best thing to do is roll a normal hit with whatever attack he wants to use, and if he hits, either give him what he wants (and no damage) or have him roll damage and use the damage as the DC of a check the target makes to prevent the effect from happening.  In short, it's an Action The Rules Don't Cover, so check out DMG1 pg 42, consider What Would Be The Most Awesome Thing That Could Happen, and run with it.



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