Condition Critical

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by Tom Verreault

Critical Die Rolls in Star Frontiers

Star Frontiers has an established automatic hit and automatic failure rule. The automatic hit is any natural die roll of 01-05% and the automatic failure is any natural die roll of 96-00. However, many referees and players like to borrow the idea of a critical hit and fumble from Dungeons and Dragons and use the automatic hit and automatic failure results for this house rule. Some referees and players also expand the critical hit and critical failure results with a rule borrowed from one of Iron Crown Enterprise’s RPGs like HARP (High Adventure Role Playing). The expanded critical hits include any die result that is a double and succeeds and the critical failure is any die result that is a double and fails.

The Alpha Dawn rules did not strictly include the concept of critical hits except in one particular case: martial arts. If the die result of a martial arts attack was 01-06 or any succeeding result that was a multiple of 10 then the attack knocks the opponent unconscious. The rule only applied to a member of the four player character species and it increased the automatic hit range of the martial artist by 1% per level. Thus a character with 1st level in martial arts that needs a 45% to hit would do this critical hit on a 01-06, and on a 10, 20, 30, & 40.

Using the martial arts skill as a template, a critical die roll system could be easily instituted in Star Frontiers. The automatic success and failure rule remains in effect meaning die results of 01-05 automatically succeed regardless of any conditional modifiers and die results of 96-00 automatically failure regardless of the characters actual percentage chance to succeed or any conditional modifiers. All automatic successes and failures also become criticals with extra effects.

The actual range of critical success is expanded on the same format as that of the martial arts skill. The 01-05 critical is expanded by 1% per level of skill thus a level 4 skill would have a base critical result of 01-09%. Note this does not expand the automatic hit range.  In addition any result die result that is a multiple of 10 (example: 10, 20, 30, etc.) is also a critical result if it happens to be a successful result.

Critical failures are simply 96-00 plus any result that is a multiple of 10 that does not succeed.

Effects of a Critical

Previously, my own house rule was that if a player rolled a critical success in combat, they had about 2-3 seconds to state what the result of the critical was otherwise I would jump in and state it. The result could be anything like a range weapon attack striking an opponent in the face and knocking them unconscious or striking him in the hand causing him to drop his weapon. I basically encouraged creativity and barring input from the player I usually went with whatever popped into my head at the time that seemed to fit the situation. This is a rather hap-hazard method, so the following tables are offered to aid referees in implementing criticals.

Ranged Weapon Criticals

Roll d100 on the appropriate table section below

Success

01-30

Shoot Item Out of Hand (whatever the target is holding is dropped - 1 turn to pick up)

31-60

Extra Damage +1d10

61-90

Knock Opponent Out/Unconscious

91-100

Double Damage

Failure

01-30

User Failure (nothing wrong with weapon, user failed to operate it properly - no ammo expended)

31-60

Weapon Jammed, Misfired or Malfunctioned (spend one turn “clearing” the weapon and lose one “shot” of ammo)

61-90

Weapon Damaged (Must make a skill check with the weapon to repair it and repairs take 2 turns)

91-95

Weapon Broken (Weapon is inoperable for rest of combat)

96-100

Weapon Explodes (if appropriate otherwise use weapon broken)

Grenade Weapons

All grenades (except the tangler) have a built in ability score save for ½ or null effect.  This feature is cancelled on a critical success. A critical success with a tangler grenade may be ruled to have knocked the target prone in addition to the entanglement effect or to have also entangled a character adjacent to the target as well. If two characters are entangled, combine both their STR for the 100 STR necessary to break the entanglement.

Critical Grenade Failure

Roll d100 on the table below

d100

Failure Result

01-15

User Failure (forgot to activate/pull pin - opponent may pick up the grenade and use it normally)

16-33

Malfunctioning device (grenade is a faulty and fails to work at all)

34-90

Short Throw (grenade lands very short - roll on bounce table and apply grenade effect against the thrower if bounce comes back at him)

91-100

Extremely Short Throw (grenade lands at thrower’s feet)

Other Thrown Weapons

Roll d100 on the appropriate table section below

Success

01-30

Sensitive Area Strike (apply pain penalty same as for ½ STA - note does not stack with pain penalty)

31-60

Extra Damage +1d10

61-90

Knock Opponent Out/Unconscious

91-100

Double Damage

Failure

01-30

User Failure (weapon not thrown)

31-60

Weapon Damaged (failed throw resulted in damage to weapon - can be repaired after combat)

61-90

Thrower Injured (bad body mechanics results in injury to throwing arm -5% to all future thrown weapon attacks and apply own Punch Score against STA)

91-100

Thrower Off-balance (all attackers get a +15% bonus to any 1 attack for 1 turn)

Martial Arts

The default critical hit for martial arts skill is the nerve combat feature of the skill listed in the skill description.  It applies only to members of the fours player character species. The following table is for all other situations.  Roll d100 on the appropriate section of the table.

Martial Arts Critical Results

Successes

01-30

Gain Critical Advantage (martial artist is treated as defending for 1 turn -10% against this opponent)

31-60

Double Punch Score

61-90

Knock Opponent Out/Unconscious

91-100

Triple Punch Score

Failure

01-30

Slipped/knocked prone (no attacks while standing up - effect lasts 1 turn)

31-60

Self Injury (apply own Punch Score against STA)

61-90

Grant Critical Advantage (opponent gains +10% bonus for any 1 attack for 1 turn)

91-100

Thrower Off-balance (all attackers get a +15% bonus for any 1 attack for 1 turn)

Demolitions Skill

Success

Player chooses: demolitions is more difficult to disarm -15% or demolitions more effective when detonated +25% damage

Demolition Skill Critical Failure

d100

Failure Result

01-45

Apprehensive (character wastes time only - nothing is accomplished)

46-90

Shaky (demolition will detonate - make RS check for ½ damage)

91-100

Cut Wrong Wire (demolition detonates - no RS check)

Computer Skill

Success

“You own this system!” (+15% to next 4 computer skill checks with this computer - note multiple critical successes do not stack and the max bonus is 15%)

Or at the referee’s option the character discovers something significant in the computer (data, clue, etc.)

Failure:

Failures at bypassing security or defeating security result in fast response by the computer system’s owners and the computer specialist not realizing he set off security but only thinking he failed to succeed.

Other Critical Computer Failures

d100

Failure Result

01-30

Trigger Reboot of Computer (computer is rebooting and unable to be used for 1d10 minutes, in addition any defeated or bypassed security is reset)

31-60

Corrupt a Program (one random program is corrupted and will not operate correctly in one way - referee determines results)

61-90

Delete a Program (one random program is deleted and computer can no longer implement its functions.

91-100

Fry the main CPU (computer will no longer operate without significant repairs)

Technician Skill

Success

(Apply the result that seems best)

“I’m in the zone!” (+15% bonus to next 4 technician skill checks - note multiple critical successes do not stack - the maximum bonus is +15)

“No one drives like I do!” (Driver’s advantage - increase or decrease distance in a pursuit or force other driver to make a skill check for control at -15%)

“I am a wizard!” (not only are repairs completed but item/machinery is now functioning slightly better is some way - a +5% bonus to one activity or similar benefit to one other limitation.)

Failure

(Apply the result that seems best)

“Where did you get your license?” (Roll on the Control Table for skid, spin or crash - Alpha Dawn page 31)

“You broke it!” (Item or machinery beyond repair)

“They know we’re here!” (Alarms, Defenses, and Locks are triggered in the most adverse way with imminent response by facility security)

Robotics Skill

Success

“I own this bot!” (+15% to all next 4 robotics skill checks with this robot - note multiple critical successes do not stack and the max bonus is 15%)

Critical Robotics Failure

d100

Failure Result

01-20

Reboot (robot is rebooting and nothing can be done to it for 1d10 minutes)

21-40

Destroyed Program (1 random program is destroyed and robot can no longer perform tasks allowed by the program)

41-60

Short Circuit (robot is damaged but still operating - bot stops and sparks every other turn or similar)

61-80

Haywire (Robot is out of control - it will randomly attack, spin, recite the Dralasite Creed, or anything else at referee’s discretion)

81-100

Explode (parabattery explodes- 2d10 damage times the parabattery’s type to the robotics technician)

Environmental Skill

Success

“I’m in the zone!” (+15% to the next 4 environmental skill checks - note multiple critical successes do not stack and the max bonus is 15%)

Or at the referee’s option the character discovers something significant in the ecosystem.

Failure

(Apply the result that seems best)

“I thought I analyzed that!” (something significant and dangerous was missed in the sample or ecosystem analysis - a toxin or dangerous creature)

“Could you be any louder?” (attempts at stealth, concealment or tracking result in drawing the attention of predators or opponents who attack with surprise)

Medical Skill

Success

“I’m in the zone!” (+15% to the next 4 medical skill checks - note multiple critical successes do not stack and the max bonus is 15%)

Failures

(Apply the result that seems best)

“Did you just diagnose a gunshot as indigestion?” (diagnosis is an utter failure and you waste resources from med kit before realizing it - 1 random does of something plus 1 other random non-dose item OR all med checks with this med kit are now -5% until the kit is restocked)

“They should call you Doctor Death!” (the attempt to heal has actually harmed the patient - 1d5 extra damage for first aid, 2d5 for Surgery, 3d5 for major surgery, +1 Strength for an infection, +5 more ability modifier for a disease, or +1 strength for a toxin)

“He’s dead Jim!” (the medic has killed the patient with the freeze field)

Psych-social Skill

Success

“I’m in the zone!” (+15% to the next 4 psych-social skill checks - note multiple critical successes do not stack and the max bonus is 15%)

Or at the referee’s option the character discovers something significant about the NPC being analyzed.

Failures

(Apply the result that seems best)

“You’re as cuddly as a cactus!” (Attempts at empathy, persuasion, or communication result in outright hostility)

“You’re a quack!” (Attempts at hypnosis or psycho-pathology should result in the opposite effect or hostile reaction from NPC).