One mechanic D&D systems have always had some trouble with are stunts or called shots. What can you do with them? What’s the impact of calling a specific shot on your die roll? To be honest, I haven’t found the solutions of past editions very satisfying.
Zak posted some rules for called shot mechanics that I want to build on for Lost Worlds. As Zak points out, the major problem with the way they are handled is that the cooler the stunt you want to perform, the less practical it is to actually do it. For those of you too lazy to click through, here’s the rule he proposes:
Here’s the deal: if you want to do something real specific–like hit the orc’s torch and knock it on the floor, you can if you roll a crit. You can also extend your crit range as much as your heart desires: natural 19-20, 18-20, 16-20, all the way up to 11-20. Your choice.
The only catch is you then have to extend your fumble range from one by the same amount.
So you really want to knock the Necronomicon out of the cultist’s hand? No problem, you want it on a 15-20? Ok. But on a 1-6 you trip and accidentally stab the baby he was about to sacrifice. Or yourself. Or your dad. Or whatever your DM’s cruel little heart devises.
I like the rule quite a bit. It lets the player be awesome, but has a self-balancing effect. A few issues though. As others have pointed out, the major problem with it is that it doesn’t distinguish at all for different skills of heroes pulling off these stunts. For example, your random peasant is now just as capable of knocking the orb of annihilation from the wizard’s hand with a stone as your plucky heroes.
So let’s modify it a bit. Instead of being able to modify your crit range by “whatever your heart desires,” instead your maximum ability to do so is based on your level – maybe something akin to your base attack bonus. In addition, you can only extend your crit range this way to perform a called stunt, which must be approved by the GM first.
And there you go, with a real simple mechanic the game structure is now flexible enough to allow players to pull off all kinds of epic stunts in battle, and to do so in a reasonable way with some interesting risk involved.