In response to last week's game, I started looking at the basic monster crit table, Table M. What I noticed is that it is almost a Death, Dismemberment, and Injury (DDI) table in reverse. It uses a range of 1 through 30, and the higher the result the more devastating the critical hit for the monster. The DDI uses 3d6 for a range of 3 through 18, and the lower the result the more disastrous the effect.
This makes sense (to me) as in the first instance (Crit Table M), you are following up on a critical hit so you want to encourage the higher-is-better mode. In addition, it allowed the designers to play with the results and base the die used to on Crit Table M to be based on the Hit Dice of the creature making the attack. In the second instance (DDI), the Player Character has reached 0 Hit/Miss Points - it's the end of the line and so lower is worse enforces the "fumble" nature of the table.
This lead me to consider essentially combining these tables. This way, when a monster crits, it is as if for that attack they have bypassed all of the Player Character's ability to avoid a major strike...it's the same as if the PC were at 0 Hit/Miss Points.
First, I attempted to classify the Table M results to see how they lined up with the DDI Table. That did not go quite as planned. The DDI table has 7 categories, including two that would not be in a crit table as they are somewhat beneficial. Crit Table M has at least 9 or 10, depending on how one looks at the descriptions. Crit Table M also includes more descriptive results (of course) and effects for which I had not accounted. However, after some gyrations and figuring, I ended up with 9 categories that ranged from Effect (like "Prone" or "Disarmed") to Death - all in a relatively orderly increase in consequences. The full breakdown looks something like this:
Next, I altered the DDI table to include the new categories - essentially adding spaces for those instances where it was a wound with an additional effect. The challenge here was reevaluating the results portion. I wanted to keep 3d6, or at least some combination of dice, to provide less linear results. I also wanted to keep decent proportions so that results clustered around the middle of the table. The effort looks like this:
It looks like it is working. I didn't have to change too much in the DDI table - and in fact I feel the additional categories, as they gain more details and better descriptions, will actually add to the enjoyment of this approach. See that green? That's the "sweet" spot. There is a roughly 80% chance that's where you're going to roll. This means getting down to 0 hit points isn't automatically a death sentence - though it could be. The challenge is that if you stay there, as you can see in column 5 - Effects of Multiples - things are going to start piling up. This, to me, is an opportunity for interesting decision-making in combat...should I stay or should I go? Is it worth it to use Step Back?
Unfortunately, this was as far as I was able to get before our game this past Saturday. But I had these two tables which was enough to go on - I figured if something came up I'd just use these and wing it. We did end up with an opponent scoring a critical hit on a PC (ironically the same opponent in the same room as last time - just from a different direction and a different PC) - I rolled a d8 (for a 2HD creature) which resulted in a 3. So the PC was knocked prone - right in the doorway/entrance to the room - meaning all of the other characters who needed to get by, either to help or flee, had to dance around their prone compatriot. But there were no characters getting to 0 HP/MP, so we didn't test it from the other direction.
There was one other general change I incorporated on the fly. I ruled that in the initial round after combat, if PC's declare it, they can forgo all actions for that round (searching bodies, searching the room, etc.) and get one Recovery Die (remember, that's half of the class hit die for the character) back. This is to simulate that moment of recollecting your wits, catching your breath, and refocusing. It seemed to work well.
All in all a fun game on Saturday - the lone wizard left in the group finally got to experience the joy of Color Spray and what it can do to multiple opponents. Unfortunately for her, she then rolled a 1 on a very important spell check after spell-burning 12 points. Ahh...the life (and death) of the wizard...
We won't play for a couple of weeks, but in the interim I'm going to start the arduous task of bringing the descriptive force of Table M into the DDI in the hopes of getting one basic table from which either Crits or DDI can draw. After that, I'll be looking at the other monster crit tables like G (giants) - which is deadly as hell.