Vehicle Critical Hits

Something that’s been stumping me for a while is how to get away from looking up critical hit charts for 4e. The thing is, I love the critical hits in The Artifact, they add a lot of flavor to larger scale combat and I don’t want to lose that.

At the same time, critical hits can really slow down a game. I want this to be fast and easy.

Critical hits for people got hung up by having to roll for a hit location. That’s changing to a negotiation. The attacker says what part of the body they were aiming at and the defender gets to move that attack one position if they want. That only works because all humans have the same body layout.

Vehicles are all over the place though. If you hit a TF in the leg, what did it damage? It could slow the vehicle or it could make it harder to pilot. Without the critical hit charts you wouldn’t know that.

Here’s the idea, there are six basic types of critical hits. They are Control, Drive, Protection, Sensors, Weapons and Cargo. They’re going to be presented in a 3×3 grid that looks like this.

Drive Weapon Protection
Protection Control Drive
Sensors Drive Cargo

It used to be that you’d roll to see if you got a critical but you could guarantee it with a success. Now you have to spend a success to get a critical. This collapses the randomness into the initial roll and speeds things up.

If attacked from the front the defender selects one vertical column. If attacked from the side they select a horizontal row. If this is a medium or heavy vehicle (with 8 fire arcs) and are attacked from a corner, the defender selects one of the closest horizontal row, vertical column or the diagonal across the chart.

Now one of the three hit locations is picked by the attacker. All the stats eligible for a critical hit will be listed under these headings but they should already be partly self evident. The attacker can either cut a stat in half or introduce a Drain to use a system like a weapon, shield or move the vehicle.

If the attacker spends a number of additional successes they get a catastrophic critical and can reduce a stat to zero. The number depends on the armor and size of the vehicle. One for most vehicles but Rall4s and things like Tanks would cost two. Something like a Kelrath Freighter might be four successes to get a catastrophic critical.

There are some fiddly rules to add. For example, what happens if you reduce the crew of a vehicle by half? In that case the crew takes half the damage the vehicle did. If you hit the cargo of a vehicle, it takes half the damage that the vehicle took.

Time to playtest. I think this will be simpler, I hope it will be easily picked up by players, time will tell.

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