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D&D 3E
Opinions on this? 
14th-Feb-2006 03:47 am
Should Improved Critical and Keen stack? This chap definitely thinks so.


I haven't gone through his math but it definitely sounds plausible. I have continued to allow it in games I run, although that's more due to style than balance.
14th-Feb-2006 03:56 am (UTC)
I don't think they should stack--makes crits too common--but I also think they should have some form of synergistic benefit. Keen shouldn't be useless if you have Improved Crit, and vice-versa.

What I do in my campaigns is this:

If you have keen OR Improved Crit, it increases the threat range of the weapon, as normal.

If you have keen AND Improved Crit, it increases the threat range of the weapon, AND grants you an identical bonus to your roll to confirm the crit.

For intance, a character has a keen longsword and Improved Critical (longsword). A longsword normally has a crit range of 19-20. This longsword has a crit range of 17-20 (an increase of 2). Because the character has both abilities, however, he also gets that same bonus--that is, +2--when he makes a roll to confirm a critical threat.
14th-Feb-2006 04:23 am (UTC)
i like this way of handling it.
15th-Feb-2006 02:50 am (UTC)
I don't think they should stack...

I don't think that they should both exist in a game where they don't stack. It reeks of bad game design.

If the "Improved Critical" feat does one thing and "Keen" does the same thing but doesn't stack, then the rules should describe "Keen" as "temporarily giving the benefit of the Improved Critical Feat."

I'd prefer Keen doing something else entirely--such as increasing the critical hit damage, or giving a high bonus to confirm criticals.
14th-Feb-2006 04:06 am (UTC)
I'm not aware of anyone that makes the kinds of claims he is apparently responding to, nor am I aware why he uses conditional claims for damage to run the numbers with.

He's also not compensating for the exotic weapons such as the Great Falchion (Sandstorm) or the Elven Courtblade (Races of the Wild).

In short, no, they shouldn't stack.
14th-Feb-2006 02:04 pm (UTC)
In addition to the "strawman" fallacy and the "proof by example" fallacy you noted, he also doesn't take into account multipliable bonuses such as STR and power attack (even his 20 STR fighter does "does an extra d6").

Actually this article attracts fallacies like barnacles: one site that cites it tries "Proof By Eminent Authority" because SKR is a rules designer (he isn't, but abeyance is due for kicking off the overdue Core Beliefs series of articles in Dragon). Heck, he's even got a "False Dichotomy" in the title!
14th-Feb-2006 02:38 pm (UTC)
Races of the Wild shouldn't matter - it's a 3.0 source. Plus, material in new products should try to balance with the core rules - arguing that the core rules should be balanced a certain way based on optional supplements seems backwards to me.
15th-Feb-2006 02:55 am (UTC)
I'm not aware of anyone that makes the kinds of claims he is apparently responding to...

There's this company on the west coast, named "Wizards of the Coast." They released his revision, called "3.5", of the rules for D&D, y'know? Where they changed the rule he helped test and he's disagreeing with it?

He's also not compensating for the exotic weapons such as the Great Falchion (Sandstorm) or the Elven Courtblade (Races of the Wild).

Don't forget the Mercurial Greatsword! Or the Hackmaster +12!

Non-core books should have no bearing on a core rule--and both Keen and Improved Critical are six year old core rules.

Look at it this way: name any other set of feat-plus-magical-property that doesn't stack. At the worst, they should stack with a reduced nature (i.e, "+1" instead of a doubling.)
14th-Feb-2006 04:52 am (UTC)
I would probably rule out those weapons before the rule. Also, the article was written before their publication.

Let them eat cake! (but in the good way)
14th-Feb-2006 05:30 am (UTC)
I continue to use mainly 3E rules.. so I allow them to stack.
14th-Feb-2006 07:06 am (UTC)
SO then Joe Bob the fighter, with a strength of 20 and his +1 Keen Flaming Bastard Sword and improved crit walks into the room, rolls a 15, and deals ((1d10+6)x2)+1d6 points od damage on his first attack, and he gets three. That's an average of 25 points of damage per smack. Add in Bob's Improved Initiative and his level in rogue from a misspent youth, and you're up to Bob doing ((1d10+6)x2)+1d6+1d6, or an average of 28 for every time he flanks an opponent or catches him unawares. On an average CR 10 selected at random, that's 15% of the creature's hitpoints in a smack. and he's flanking with Eldon the Rogue who washed out of the Military academy and took up a life of crime, who's dealing, on a roll of 13 or higher, ((1d6+5)x2)+3d6+1d6, or 28 points of damage on average. So these tow do around 15%/smack on the Elemental, taking at least 30% of his health out in the first round of combat. Add in the wizard with his empowered twinned magic missiles, and the Celric with his ray'd Inclict Critical Wounds, and that Elemental is in for a bad time.
14th-Feb-2006 10:06 am (UTC)
Elemental? You can't flank or crit those
14th-Feb-2006 12:52 pm (UTC)
Well, that's a lot, but then, you'd expect someone with superhuman strength and a big ol' +1 keen flaming weapon would be able to dish out the hurt.

For my part, the keen / improved critical issue isn't the weapons that do double damage on a normally-extended critical range. Yes, they can end up threatening double damage often, but that's not out of balance with someone who uses two weapons, and who's bought the feats to do so well.

For my part, the real issue is stacking improved critical with keen on something like a military pick, which does x4 on a critical. Throw in a decent strength modifier, and you've got a character that threatens to do, say, fifty points of damage in one shot, 20% of the time.
14th-Feb-2006 04:24 pm (UTC)
All I know is I ran similiar numbers (in addition to two-weapon fighting) long, long ago and came up with a similar conclusion.

I lost all the data in a hard drive crash, so I can't back it up today.
16th-Feb-2006 11:35 am (UTC)
I think they should stack. Keen represents a quality of the weapon. Improved Critical represents the wielders exceptional skill with the weapon. Besides, you know that clown who picks Scythe as their weapon of choice was counting on having them stack...

If you get into the ridiculous realm of weapon enchantments like Flaming/Icy/Lightning Burst, don't allow the enhancement damage to increase with critical attacks. The burst bonuses already do an insane amount of damage.
19th-Feb-2006 03:57 am (UTC)
I was just going to post that.

I thought that Flaming's +1d6 didn't double with a critical hit? I do believe that's why they invented "Flaming Burst," to give you an incentive to make a critical hit.
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