Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Critical Hit Tables--Not Just For Rolemaster

Perhaps you've been reading about Rolemaster and really like the idea of critical hit charts and the bloody, hilarious chaos they cause, but aren't sure you want to commit to a new system. Well, there's a way around that.

The book that governs all these wonderful critical for Rolemaster is called Arms Law, and true to the legacy of Rolemaster, is modular in nature. That means Arms Law can be easily adapted with a number of systems. At the time that the last edition of Arms Law was published, it contained rules for converting the system to AD&D. With that, it is easy enough to translate it to any several similiar classical games.

However, if you're playing something other than AD&D, you can still use Arms Law with a number of other systems. This free download by Iron Crown details Arms Law conversions for a number of other systems, to include:

-D&D 3rd Edition
-GURPS
-Legend of the Five Rings
-World of Darkness (including Werewolf)

The AD&D notes are also included in the free download. What's more, there are conversions for using Arms Law with such systems as Castles & Crusades and ICE's own High Adventure Role Playing (HARP). Older editions also had conversions for the HERO System, but I can't locate it at the moment.

For about $16 for a print copy or $8 for a pdf, you can have all the heartache and crunchy, painful, thrilling goodness that comes with Rolemaster's critical hit charts without having to leave the comfort of your own game.

My advice? If it sounds like fun, try it. There's a reason Rolemaster's critical hits are alternately revered and cursed in the RPG community.

8 comments:

Normal said...

Do you think I would be able to use it with Pathfinder? I saw the d20 conversion, and thought it would carry over, but wasn't entirely sure. Thanks!

mthomas768 said...

The use of crit and fumble tables seems to have gone a bit out of fashion (though my group has been using them forever). Glad to see they're making a comeback!

Zachary The First said...

@Normal: Yes, it should. I haven't used it for Pathfinder, but it should be usable just with the 3e/d20 conversion.

@mthomas: That's true, though I think a lot of groups out there (such as yours) are still using them. In fact, I would bet that critical hits in general are one of the most houseruled aspects of any game.

1d30 said...

Recently read a story about a dude on the subway who was stabbed thoroughly and repeatedly by a crazy varmint, he fought off his attacker and fled, got himself to the hospital, and is doing fine.

Something tells me you can't model that with just hit points, unless the attacker rolled "1" for damage a dozen times in a row ...

I'd argue that, as durable as people actually are, you could do away with a HP system altogether and simply use critical hit charts modified by weapon type - that is, heavier / larger weapons get a small bonus and inefficient, "at-hand", or ceremonial weapons get a small penalty.

Basically you get stuck and stuck and bashed around and suddenly lose an arm, and the critical hit system would have to take into account blood loss and pain and such, but it would work without worrying about HP.

What do you folks think?

Zachary The First said...

@1d30: Well, it’s important to remember Hit Points are supposed to model more than sheer vitality. It’s also a very easy and popular way of tracking health.

I think what you’ve described could easily work for a number of games stressing a potentially more lethal level of combat. It’s really a matter of preference. Hit Points remain a good common meeting ground for quickly understanding rules between games or editions.

1d30 said...

@Zach
Well yes of course, you don't see ME using complex critical hit tables after all :P

Tim Shorts said...

Hmmm the link is not working. You tease.

Zachary The First said...

Which one?