Lots of game systems have Critical Hit and Critical Fumble decks. Pathfinder 1e and Starfinder are two well-known examples (and, full disclosure, I wrote the ones for Starfinder).
Many groups find them hysterical, chaotic fun, Others find them hateful, swingy, and absolutely no fun at all.
But what if the PLAYERS got to decide when they came into play? That introduces the rules and their funny, unexpected effects into a game, but doesn’t force them on anyone who doesn’t want to deal with them.
Here’s a simple set of example rules for doing that.
When an attack against a PC is a success, the player can earn one Crit Point by deciding the attack draws from the Critical Hit Deck.
When an attack by a PC is a failure , the player can earn one Crit Point by deciding the attack draws from the Critical Failure Deck.
When an attack by PC is a success, the player can spend two Crit Points to cause the attack to draw from the Critical Hit Deck. If the player has 3 or more Crit Points, they can spend additional Crit Points before any cards are drawn to increase the number of cards they draw on a 1-1 basis (spending 4 extra Crit Points means you draw 4 extra Critical Hit cards). You select one Critical hit effect from one drawn card to apply to the attack.
(As an alternate rule, you can also allow a player to earn Crit Points when they use these rules, by having GM draw 3 critical hit cards for an attack against the PC, or by drawing 3 Critical Failure cards for an attack made by the PC).
All Crit Points are reset to 0 at the end of each game session.
The reason a PC has to suffer more card effects than they get to inflict is that players can be quite cunning about timing and resources, accepting critical hits and critical failures that go against them when they can afford the hit and saving up the Crit Points to turn the tides when they need it. However, by making it a 2-1 ratio, and not letting players save points between games, this tactical use of the rules is balanced out.
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