Question: Since the current subdual rules allow you to stun for 1 round on a crit (and for 1d6 rounds if the target fails their save!!), why aren't those two already going after the boss with hammers?
I am blessed with a group that cares nothing for optimization. They buy feats because they sound cool, use interesting looking weapons and cast spells that sound neat. As long as they are having fun, they don't care where I'm pulling stuff out of. If they win or lose by the skin of their teeth, they could care less if I'm actually using rules at all. In reality, even if criticals caused instant death, they wouldn't take advantage of them (If they caused explosive decapitation, they'd be all over that.)
I run boss battles with tons of mooks coming in waves mixed in with a few standards. I may have an environmental danger I can bring up if things are a bit slow. My villains are likely to have some support abilities and spend actions monologuing. We are much closer to Power Rangers than we are to Call of Duty but everyone has a good time. We had an early incident where a Drake (I can play a Dragon!) managed to kill the party with his breath weapon due to me keeping track of where the fire was spreading. "I breathe fire!" is our table's version of Leroy Jenkins.
So I have the world's easiest GM job which may be why I play with the rules on the forum so much. Very little of what
happens in my home game is applicable to more serious games. I have had enough experience with other groups to understand what goes on in "normal" games.
Yup, because a reaction to "If I give him a die, its gonna vastly more significant than the die I get for doing so..." is barely a social evaluation. Its not choking off action dice because the player is trash talking or spilled a pepsi on the play mat, its comming from the evaluation of a strictly mechanical function - what that player is going to do with the die vs. what I'll do with mine. When the imbalance is so bad the GM feels the only solution is to not play that game at all, there is a mechanical problem, not a social one.
I know I'm not going to convince you of this and I'm not really trying but not shutting off the flow of action dice *appears* to prevent the problems of AD related chance feats and nearly every other problem encountered with one notable exception:
Most use of action dice are symetrical - you boost checks, I boost checks. The one grossly asymetic use of dice is for confirming crits on attacks. If a player is abusing lady lucks smile or fortunate, we're talking like 6, maybe 10, xp to make an NPC hit back every bit as hard on that front. ...Except for one-shotting. ANd that's why my focus is currently on lookng at how crits work, because they don't work in some ways. Or more accurately they only work on one side of the game screen.
Yeah, this one. I think it's the one area that may submit to a mechanical solution. I think the problem is pretty well understood so let me put out some criteria I think the solution has to conform to:
1) It has to be effective enough for PC's to want to use it but not so effective that GM's feel they can't.
2) It shouldn't be a nerf to lethal damage.
3) It should eliminate the one-hit kill.
4) It should be as self-contained as possible.
Not surprisingly, I have a solution I think fits the bill. I'm assuming your "all action dice are d6" here.
When you score a threat against a special character, you may spend and roll one action die. The result of that die is applied directly to the target's wounds. This die may not explode or otherwise be modified except by specific character options that target wounds.
One shots are off the table. There's just no way to do more than 6 wounds. You can hit PC's with this and be sure that you won't one shot them either while still being deadly enough to put the fear of GM in them.
It's broadly comparable to subdual and stress. Add in the stun and it's almost the same. Wounds become a sort of condition track. It doesn't favor any weapon type and doesn't care what else action dice can do. Crit immunity still works as do all the other NPC options.
An average PC/NPC will need 2-4 criticals to take them out. Only a very combat oriented group is going to generate that many crits in less than a few rounds. No amount of chance chicanery changes the numbers.
But again, no one will bother because subdual damage will stun just as well and walk the boss up the fatigued condition chart.
Psst. If you find a water-well with smoke billowing out of it, let me know so I can throw subdual damage down it. It works, I'll defend vigorously that it works... but it is such an insanely delicate balancing act that nothing can be done relating to lethal crits without having words with subdual also, because they are intimately intermingled.
I'm just saving that part for later. For now pretend it doesn't exist .
In theory, subdual and stress are overpowered. In practice, they work pretty well. I think the above comes pretty close to squaring that circle, at least enough for you to come up with something that works well.