Called shot. These words never fail to fill my heart with dread. Many players try to abuse these two words, which if we allow them to do this, then it will spoil our games, and probably the challenge of it. Thankfully we have core rules to back us up on what called shots can and can’t do.
WHY WE NEED CALLED SHOTS
There are situations which require a special finesse, and a whole lot of skill to pull off. Attacking specific targets is necessary quite often, most are harmless enough. Knocking a vial out of someone’s hand, cutting open a backpack during a melee, shooting an arrow a longer range then normal, there are hundreds of examples of its usage, however because this option needs to be available for all of the characters to use, it requires deep scrutiny by each DM to regulate them so that they aren’t abused.
CALLED SHOTS WHICH CAUSE DAMAGE
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons does not support specific hit locations, and a called shot can not be used to cause extra damage. Shooting an arrow into the eye of a dragon isn’t going to blind it, nor is it going to instantly kill the beast, a successful called shot with an arrow will only do 1d8 or its normal damage, and that is it.
Some called shots are capable of creating some sort of short term effect at the DM’s option, such as a handful of sand thrown into an opponents eyes will cause him to be blind for a round or two, but targeting his head with a sword isn’t going to give you an instant kill.
CALLED SHOT PROCEDURE
In order to make a called shot, the player must announce that he is going to attempt this before any dice are rolled. He can always change tactics once it is his turn again, but the called shot adds +1 to your initiative because the character is taking more time and care into the attack.
Once it is the character’s turn, he rolls his attack at –4 to hit, it is more difficult, and the DM can make this penalty as large as –10 if the attack is really challenging, but the standard penalty is usually –4.
WHAT CAN A CALLED SHOT ACCOMPLISH?
Players may complain, saying that the core rules neuter the Called Shot attack, however they haven’t thought it all the way through. They assume that they’ll be the only ones who will ever be able to take advantage of it, and if we do institute a hit location system, their lives will be unfairly at risk during all attacks. It is one thing to have to make a saving throw vs death every so often, but to have to do this every time you pick up the dice is really pushing your luck.
For that reason we keep the damage regulated to a standard of damage. Called shots are still required to attack specific breaks in an opponents armor. Monsters such as the carrion crawler are best defeated by called shots to specific locations as uncalled shots only do ½ damage.
Under some cases, called shots upon a specific body part is allowed, but specific attacks should only do 1 or 2 hp in damage max, such as attempting to capture an opponent who is going to hurl a bomb into a busy city market, a hero is allowed to target his throwing arm with his whip. A successful attack could make the terrorist drop his bomb and set it off in his own area. The whip only did 1d2 dmg, however the explosion will probably engulf both the hero and the assassin, with the assassin taking most of the damage, but this was his own fault.
We aren’t trying to push logic completely out of the window, just not allow players to use the core rules to cheat with. Instant kills are no good for anybody involved. I remember using one which was allowed, he was my mortal enemy and I just killed him. It was probably the must unsatisfying ending that I’ve ever experienced. There isn’t anything wrong with whittling an opponent down the old fashioned way, in fact the rules expect this to happen in order to make the game playable.
ART BY: Fred Fields
Friday, May 01, 2009
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