Friday, March 8, 2013

Critical Stunts for Pathfinder

Recently, I've been re-reading the first box set for the Dragon Age RPG from Green Ronin Publishing since I'm thinking about running a one-night session of it for a group of friends tomorrow. While reading through the book, I found myself going back and re-reading the section about Stunts and discovering how much I love the concept and execution of the rule.

For those of you who aren't that familiar with Dragon Age, I'll try and explain Stunts and how they work. Whenever you make an ability check and happen to roll doubles, you receive a number of points that you may spend on a number of stunts, which are a number of actions that allow you to do some pretty cool things like deal more damage with an attack or have a spell cost less mana to use because you did so well at casting the spell.

As I re-read the Stunts section again and again, an idea popped into my head: Could I create a similar stunt system for Pathfinder?

After a day's worth of brainstorming, I have a rough outline for a Pahfinder-ized version of stunts. The basic idea is that whenever you roll a critical success, you can perform a special action known as a stunt. The stunts you can perform are:

  • Skirmish: You can move either yourself or the target of your attack 5 ft. in any direction. If you rolled a natural 20, the distance is increased by 10 ft. 
  • Knock Prone: You knock the target of your attack prone. 
  • Mighty Blow: You inflict double the amount of damage against the target of your attack. 
  • Magical Renewal: You do not spend the spell slot for the spell you just cast. 
  • Skillful Casting: Increase the DC to resist the spell you just cast by 1. 
  • Fast Casting: After you cast your spell, you can immediately cast another spell of your choosing. The second spell must have a casting time of a standard or free action. If you roll a critical with the second spell, you do not get to perform a second stunt. 

To minimize any confusion, this "Critical Stunt" system would replace how critical successes currently work. This short list of stunts is mostly made up of the stunts from Dragon Age that I thought would work the best in Pathfinder and when I have the final product finished, there will probably be some more original stunts added to the list. 

While I like this idea a lot, I do notice a few flaws it could have. The first major one that comes to my mind is the idea would make critical successes more complicated and make combat longer. The second major one is the fear that some of the stunts will be fundamentally better than others, which would result in players only choose those stunts again and again. Since I'm still in the rough draft stage with all of this, I'm going to try and figure out a way to address these potential problems. 

So, what are your thoughts on the idea? Do you think it could be interesting? Are there any more problems the idea might have?