Critical Hits

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So, in my last session, my players fought two new monsters I designed.  One had a large tower shield that granted a huge bonus to defenses, but if they attacked, they lost the bonus until their next turn.  In addition, if a player scored a critical hit against them, they would take no damage from the crit, but their shield would be destroyed.

The other was a Halfling Soldier that could block an attack with their shield once per encounter, forcing a reroll with a -2 penalty, and the reroll couldn't be a crit.

During the battles, two player critical hits were negated, and my players didn't seem too happy about it.  One even said that "you shouldn't use monsters that don't let us crit."

I used to play 3rd edition, where just about every other monster was immune to crits, so this took me by surprise.  Do you feel that a player has a right to be able to score critical hits, so that they can never be denied them?

"You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies." -The Doctor, Remembrance of the Daleks
How'll I put it?

Rolling a critical hit, then having the DM go 'no' is kind of like whacking open a pinata and finding it full of asparagus and brussels sprouts.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
..I agree with both of you guys, to the op - yes there were monsters all over the place immune to crits but I can not think of one that let you roll the threat and then you fail if you pass and fail if you fail.. what?


..what I would have done is make it where if you roll the number you need to threat the crit they dont get to roll the confirm, the shield just breaks or whatever happens.



..as for the little guy, if I am reading that right - Once per encounter.. he just drew the short straw.
A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men. - Willy Wonka
I felt the same way about Ability Score damage, and I even started a thread about it a while back, that I thought it seemed like a reasonable way to apply a debilitating effect and that it happened all the time in 3rd, so why not ever in 4th.  I listened to everyone's arguments, about it being needlessly complicated and tedious to do all that math on the fly all the time.  But, ultimately, I just came around to the fact that it was taken out of 4e for a reason, and that I should just trust the game and go along with it.

We have a new guy in our group who's playing 4e for the first time, and just the other day he noticed that there aren't schools of magic anymore.  He vocally objected, until I pointed out that it is just the way they do things now and that if he wanted to play a Conjurer that there are plenty of ways to do it in 4e without imposing blanket restrictions on every person who ever wants to play a Wizard.

The point is: If you're going to play 4e, then play 4e.  Appreciate it for what it does better than other editions and forgive it for where it might fall short, compared to other editions.  But don't play it and spend the whole game wishing you were playing 3rd.  They are very, very different games.
Sleeping with interns on Colonial 1
It's not that I want to go back to having monsters always immune to critical hits, I just felt that the occasional loss of one wasn't horrible.  I mean, there are monsters who can make you lose entire attacks, like the dracolich's interrupt stun and similar shenanigans.  I thought making a monster lose an advantage for a combat = critical hit damage was fair...but apparently my players disagree.

I also thought turning a critical hit = a regular hit every so often was a lot better than "sorry, I know you crit, but as an interrupt, he teleports 5 squares away, so your attack does nothing" (which I've seen monsters do). 

Now, since my job is to keep the game fun, I really don't have much choice here.  But I was curious if I was being unreasonable in saying "hey look, sometimes a monster nerfs you.  Maybe it has an immunity/resistance to your favorite trick.  Maybe it sucks some fun to be more of a challenge.  Because sometimes the reverse is true as well."
"You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies." -The Doctor, Remembrance of the Daleks
It's not a hangin' offense, but I can see the POV of your players. It's a downer.

As far as that interrupt, that's a great example of something to ignore when your players roll a critical. You're not obligated in any way to use a monster's immediate interrupt, whether it was a published monster or something of your own creation. Save it for when everyone's not jumping up and down for joy at having rolled a crit.

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It's not that I want to go back to having monsters always immune to critical hits, I just felt that the occasional loss of one wasn't horrible.  I mean, there are monsters who can make you lose entire attacks, like the dracolich's interrupt stun and similar shenanigans.  I thought making a monster lose an advantage for a combat = critical hit damage was fair...but apparently my players disagree.

I also thought turning a critical hit = a regular hit every so often was a lot better than "sorry, I know you crit, but as an interrupt, he teleports 5 squares away, so your attack does nothing" (which I've seen monsters do). 

Now, since my job is to keep the game fun, I really don't have much choice here.  But I was curious if I was being unreasonable in saying "hey look, sometimes a monster nerfs you.  Maybe it has an immunity/resistance to your favorite trick.  Maybe it sucks some fun to be more of a challenge.  Because sometimes the reverse is true as well."

I've done something like this before, but not with the same results.

It depends on how transparent you are with damage and defenses.
I had a mob with a magical field on it, and when the players rolled 18+, it negated the field.  So, what turned into resists 5 all now became vulnerable 5 all.

I've done it before with a crit negating an effect.  Instead of telling the players that it did no damage, I just recorded half damage on the mob and destroyed the defense booster or extra power or whatever it was.  
You could have done the same- describe the crit as smashing through the tower shield (but not actually recorded any damage)

Funny story about ctirs that isnt' related:  I have a player who rolled a lot of crits.  He once had 5 crits in one session.  His dad, another player, couldn't roll above 8 to save his PC's life.  He got fed up, tossed the dice over his shoulder (in a fairly open room) and his d20 bounced back onto the table- landing on 20. 

Back to the topic:  Sometimes you create a monster that nerfs a particular set of tactics, but you always create a way out of that.  A way for them to turn the tide back in their favor without negating their 5% chance of critical hit.
Well, in the case of the reroll, I didn't force the player to reroll their crit- what actually happened was, they rolled a hit, the Halfling used his ability, forcing a reroll at -2 (and the reroll specifically could not be a crit), and the reroll was a 20.  Cue unhappy player.

With the tower shield, it sounded good on paper, and the players knew about it beforehance, due to a solid monster knowledge check.  In retrospect, I should have made it a choice "ok, you rolled a crit.  You can either do damage to the monster, or destroy his shield so he'll be easier to take down."

Of course, player crits tend to do a LOT of damage, so I'm willing to bet most players would be more inclined to take the gamble that they just kill the monster outright.
"You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies." -The Doctor, Remembrance of the Daleks
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