One of my fondest memories from my childhood playing Dungeons & Dragons was the critical hits and failures. indeed, the good hits-bad misses were what stood out the most in those old sessions. When we were too young to know any better we thought the bigger and badder the monsters (and the magic items) the better. One of our players had a two-handed +5 Holy Avenger. So naturally we had to put this paladin up against a red dragon to test his worth. The paladin killed the dragon with his Holy Avenger. That may sound absurd and it’s because it is. Our character were all ridiculously over-powered.
But that’s where it got really interesting.Red dragons are big. When they die they don’t just fade away like Yoda. They are subject to the laws of gravity (at least in our campaigns they are) and they fall. This particular dragon fell towards the heroic paladin. The paladin had foresight enough to try to brace the dragon’s momentum by firmly planting his sword by his own feet, hilt up, to protect himself from the dragon’s weight. It sort of worked. He took very little crushing damage but the sword couldn’t withstand the pressure. It broke and when magic items break very bad things can happen.
Our DM ruled that this would be treated similar to a retributive strike. The force blew the dragon off the paladin and our hero succumbed to his injuries immediately. This was a house rule that was made up on the spot and I’m pretty sure it was our way of trying to police ourselves. We had way too much power.
It was the thrill of this unexpected destruction of the sword that excited us all though. Not the realization that our 7th level characters had little right to be carrying 11 or 12 magic items…some of which would have fallen into the artifacts and relics categories of the day. It is for that reason that I took inspiration from my experiences and from using tools to help us determine what our good hits and bad misses looked like. NonZero Sum Games has published a new resource with the DMs Guild called “Good Hits-Bad Misses“ and we encourage you to use it not as gospel but as another tool in your DM Toolkit to add some flavor to your sessions.
We hope you enjoy Good Hits-Bad Misses as much as we did in creating it. And, as always, please don’t hesitate to leave us feedback. We take it all seriously and it helps us to create better material in future releases. We use the feedback to improve our existing products too.
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Good Hits & Bad Misses – by NonZero Sum Games