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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default The Critical Hit Handbook

    The Critical Hit Handbook

    For your reading and use, folks, I present the 3.5 Critical Hit Handbook. This handbook lists 194 weapons, 349 350 character options, and discusses all aspects of imposing (as opposed to avoiding) critical hits under 3.5. It covers builds, the rules, strategies, small tricks, Pathfinder options, second party options, and critical hits as applied to spells, thus making it the most comprehensive guide to critical-hit-related options currently in existence.

    I've created this in a Google Document mainly for ease of use and because, clocking in at 135 pages, this handbook probably doesn't work as a thread here ... and frankly I shudder to contemplate the amount of bbcode I'd have to do to make this work here.

    That said, if you really want direct links to the different sections of the handbook, here they are:

    - Introduction

    - The Rules of Critical Hits
    -- How do you get a critical hit?
    -- How do you optimise critical hits?
    --- Two-handed or two-weapon?
    --- More hands and more arms!
    --- Good stuff and good tricks
    -- Are critical hits worth optimising?
    -- A closer look at critical hit rules

    - Critical Hit Weaponry
    -- Weapons with Threat Ranges more than 20
    -- Weapons with Multipliers greater than x2
    -- Weapons with Threat Ranges more than 20 AND a multiplier greater than x2
    -- Specific Weapons and Items of Interest

    - Character Options
    -- Options to Expand Critical Threat Range
    -- Options to Increase Critical Multiplier
    -- Options increasing critical hit range AND critical multiplier
    -- Options to Enhance Critical Confirmation Rolls
    -- Options to Override Immunity to Critical Hits
    -- Options for Rider Effects on Critical Threats or Hits
    -- Epic Level Options

    - Builds
    -- Melee
    -- Unarmed
    -- Ranged

    - The Art of Spell Criticals
    --- How does Improved Critical work with spells?
    --- What about channelling spells?
    --- Spells that create ranged weapons
    --- A Brief Survey of Spells to which Improved Critical can be applied
    --- Other useful feats, Prestige Classes, etc.

    - Pathfinder Critical Options

    - Second Party Sources

    - Final Words and Bibliography


    Many thanks to both vipermagnum357 and PhantasyPen in respect of this handbook; these guys did a lot of the groundwork for this handbook, and many of the options mentioned here were unearthed or listed by them.

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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    For some reason, I am reminded of this quote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazyan View Post
    Playing a wizard the way GitP says wizards should be played requires the equivalent time and effort investment of a university minor. Do you really want to go down this rabbit hole, or are you comfortable with just throwing a souped-up Orb of Fire at the thing?
    Anyway, you might want to note somewhere that the easiest way to score Coup De Grace is to use it on spammable summons:
    1) Bind Malphas [ToM]
    2) Summon a raven whose actions you control
    3) Have the Raven go to sleep
    4) Coup De Grace the sleeping Raven
    ***
    5) Blood in the Water stance [ToB]
    6) Repeat until you can one shot anything
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    Trissociate 3.5 Homebrew Base Class. Mix & match abilites & templates to make virtually any sort of character!
    Emerald Legion A Mind Flayer's guide to breeding Ikea Tarrasques
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    You might want to add "Staggering Critical" from Drow of the Underdark. It adds a slow effect rider to critical hits with no save for 1 round. That's a reasonably potent debuff against high level monster manual adversaries relying on a full attack.
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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthrowhale View Post
    You might want to add "Staggering Critical" from Drow of the Underdark. It adds a slow effect rider to critical hits with no save for 1 round. That's a reasonably potent debuff against high level monster manual adversaries relying on a full attack.
    Added in and appreciate the indicator. Make that 350 options!

    Quote Originally Posted by JeminiZero View Post
    For some reason, I am reminded of this quote:



    Anyway, you might want to note somewhere that the easiest way to score Coup De Grace is to use it on spammable summons:
    1) Bind Malphas [ToM]
    2) Summon a raven whose actions you control
    3) Have the Raven go to sleep
    4) Coup De Grace the sleeping Raven
    ***
    5) Blood in the Water stance [ToB]
    6) Repeat until you can one shot anything
    Added in, and thanks. Incidentally, Orb of Fire can, by definition, be used with Improved Critical; it takes a ranged attack roll.

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    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Anything about rerolls?

    Audacious attempt allows the rolling of 2d20 on any roll that can only succeed on a 20.

    Luck domain
    Cat domain (fabulous cats archive article)

    And the shadowblade strike 1st level shadowhand maneuver allows another d20 to be rolled on an attack.

    That luck feat that turns a 1 on an attack roll to a nat 20

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Great work!
    Thanks for collecting them in 1 place, Bookmarked!

    Just some note:

    Blade boot MIGHT be overridden by the boot blade on Complete Scoundrel p.110.

    Magical training IS also an option for arcane duelist and anything else that requires only 1st level arcane spells, but i understand, most melee builds are feat starved.

    Toothed Blow don't make your Unarmed strikes piercing sadly, it just makes them count AS IF, but ONLY for underwater combat, to not get the penalty..... versatile unarmed strike could work though.

    for natural attacks, the spell metal fang, from Complete Champion p124-125, can make 1 natural weapon into silver and/or cold iron.
    Last edited by TheCount; 2020-06-20 at 03:20 PM. Reason: grammar
    Quote Originally Posted by noob View Post
    Also pseudodragons takes easily more screen time than "true" dragons.
    (but it is fair: "true" dragons are not telepathic venomous flying cats and so does not deserve screen time like a pseudodragon)

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by daremetoidareyo View Post
    Anything about rerolls?

    Audacious attempt allows the rolling of 2d20 on any roll that can only succeed on a 20.

    Luck domain
    Cat domain (fabulous cats archive article)

    And the shadowblade strike 1st level shadowhand maneuver allows another d20 to be rolled on an attack.

    That luck feat that turns a 1 on an attack roll to a nat 20

    I'll build a section into it - I'm just working out where.


    Quote Originally Posted by TheCount View Post
    Great work!
    Thanks for collecting them in 1 place, Bookmarked!

    Just some note:

    Blade boot MIGHT be overridden by the boot blade on Complete Scoundrel p.110.

    Magical training IS also an option for arcane duelist and anything else that requires only 1st level arcane spells, but i understand, most melee builds are feat starved.

    Toothed Blow don't make your Unarmed strikes piercing sadly, it just makes them count AS IF, but ONLY for underwater combat, to not get the penalty..... versatile unarmed strike could work though.

    for natural attacks, the spell metal fang, from Complete Champion p124-125, can make 1 natural weapon into silver and/or cold iron.
    Fair notes on all those and will add in for reference, but how is Magical Training an option for Arcane Duelist? It only provides 0-level spells, even if the FRCS version makes you a 1st level caster for the purpose of range only, even if the PGtF version says it treats you as a 1st level caster for variable-based effects of the spells you cast. Is it a Heighten Spell trick, or is there something I am missing?

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    I will be honest, no idea.
    Hoped you knew how it it worked, but I saw it mentioned on the latest iron chef thread.
    Will pu in a request for clarification on it.
    Edit: probably a combo with versatile Spellcaster to cast a spell 1 level higher, but that's just my guess.
    Last edited by TheCount; 2020-06-21 at 04:05 AM.

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCount View Post
    I will be honest, no idea.
    Hoped you knew how it it worked, but I saw it mentioned on the latest iron chef thread.
    Will pu in a request for clarification on it.
    Edit: probably a combo with versatile Spellcaster to cast a spell 1 level higher, but that's just my guess.
    The thread I referenced down in the builds section which seems to discuss it is here.

    Basically the way I understand it is that you take Magical Training, and then one of the Heighten-ish options makes them level 1 spells.

    Colour me a bit skeptical on that one, but I'd love to hear the basis on which it works.

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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    So the way I think this works is that you need 3 feats: Magical Training-Sorcerer, Heighten Spell, Versatile Spellcaster.

    Magical Training-Sorcerer grants you 3 Level 0 spell slots.

    Versatile Spellcaster let's you burn 2 lower level slots to cast a higher level spell. So you could burn 2x Level 0 slots to cast a level 1 spell.

    So with Heighten Spell, you could cast Prestidigitation heightened to L1.

    Actually, on the topic of Arcane Duelist entry, consider dipping Beguiler 1 for Arcane Spellcasting, Tumble as a class skill, and Trapfinding (you likely need Able Learner to keep Search and Disable Device maxed out).
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    Emerald Legion A Mind Flayer's guide to breeding Ikea Tarrasques
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    Spellblade Tennis Throw out nigh infinite spells per round
    Sleeping Raven Infinite Blood Frenzy Nigh infinite melee damage exploit

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by JeminiZero View Post
    Actually, on the topic of Arcane Duelist entry, consider dipping Beguiler 1 for Arcane Spellcasting, Tumble as a class skill, and Trapfinding (you likely need Able Learner to keep Search and Disable Device maxed out).
    I did. The problem is BAB. Go that way and, even with full-BAB classes from then onward, you don't qualify for Arcane Duelist until level 8 and your final BAB is at +15, which doesn't even hit the benchmark for a gish let alone a full-blown martial character, and suffers a long three levels of your BAB at a standstill as you transition over from Arcane Duelist to Legacy Champion into the early teens. Every point of BAB matters with the Arcane Duelist because, as part of its lunatic structure, it restricts its ability to shift damage to attack roll down to the BAB of the character, same as Power Attack which would be okay if the Duelist were a full BAB class. Or at least a BAB larger than 5/10, which is why we have to use Legacy Champion.

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Just wanted to thank you for this!

    Very well written and lots of info esp the ones for Dragon mags. Exactly what I have always needed :D

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    The Skillful weapon enchantment from Complete Arcane p144 might help in that, giving you proficiency with the weapon it's placed on And setting you bab at 3/4th if it's not better iirc, the +2 price might hurt though....
    Edit: Unless you go with unarmed strike, and yes it needs a talk with the GM to be safe about it.
    Last edited by TheCount; 2020-06-22 at 07:11 AM.

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCount View Post
    The Skillful weapon enchantment from Complete Arcane p144 might help in that, giving you proficiency with the weapon it's placed on And setting you bab at 3/4th if it's not better iirc, the +2 price might hurt though....
    Edit: Unless you go with unarmed strike, and yes it needs a talk with the GM to be safe about it.
    You remember correctly. 3/4 BAB, "as a cleric". Interesting, I didn't realise it also boosted your BAB in effect. However, you still wind up with the same eventual BAB: +15 at level 20, same as if you dipped a level in Beguiler, pushed full-BAB classes to qualify and then jumped to Legacy Champion as soon as you could.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Errors.

    FF2 = Fiend Folio 2 - There aren't this book, as I know. And this abbreviation doesn't use in handbook.

    Chondathan Steelsword in Exotic Weapons blok, though this is Martial.

    Punching Dagger in Martial Weapons blok, though this is Simple.
    Last edited by loky1109; 2020-06-23 at 08:21 AM.

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by loky1109 View Post
    Errors.

    FF2 = Fiend Folio 2 - There aren't this book, as I know. And this abbreviation doesn't use in handbook.

    Chondathan Steelsword in Exotic Weapons blok, though this is Martial.

    Punching Dagger in Martial Weapons blok, though this is Simple.
    All fixed now. Thanks for that!

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    This is minor, but Vorpal seems pretty good with Surge of Fortune/Sense Weakness. For example, your standard cleric could purchase a Vorpal weapon by level 14 (using <1/2 wealth by level) and have a chance of dealing with a Great Wyrm Prismatic Dragon (CR66). Since Vorpal is cheaper than the Extractor Globe or Flayer alternatives it comes online a level or so earlier. Also, given that Vorpal is in the DMG, it's not as esoteric as the other ones.
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    Stutter Caster: Eliminate all spell defenses (SR, Save, AC).
    The Clockwork Wizard: All spells in no time.
    Piercing Immunities: Uncounterable Counters.
    Planar Soldiers of Mystra: Invincibility from planar traits.
    A Core Only Fighter 20 that kills things

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Hmm, I can't tell if you have a section on how crit immunity isn't actually crit immunity. Actions in Combat never tells you to not confirm a crit, and the more proper wording (even used in Rules Compendium's Critical Hits section) is "immune to extra damage from a critical hit." (An FAQ entry also calls them out as equivalent).

    This means that stuff like Burst weapons and Blood in the Water work on everything.

    Or at least they do until you hit the part of the FAQ which says that crit immunity "negates" the critical hit and makes it "unsucessful," so Burst doesn't trigger, even if you rolled the threat and confirmed it sucessfully. But hey, it's not like RAW crowd cares about the FAQ, right?

    Oh, and that FAQ entry specifically calls itself out as a "correction" to a previous version that said that Burst weapons did work on everything.

    It's a discussion you should probably have in there if you don't.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    Hmm, I can't tell if you have a section on how crit immunity isn't actually crit immunity. Actions in Combat never tells you to not confirm a crit, and the more proper wording (even used in Rules Compendium's Critical Hits section) is "immune to extra damage from a critical hit." (An FAQ entry also calls them out as equivalent).

    This means that stuff like Burst weapons and Blood in the Water work on everything.

    Or at least they do until you hit the part of the FAQ which says that crit immunity "negates" the critical hit and makes it "unsucessful," so Burst doesn't trigger, even if you rolled the threat and confirmed it sucessfully. But hey, it's not like RAW crowd cares about the FAQ, right?

    Oh, and that FAQ entry specifically calls itself out as a "correction" to a previous version that said that Burst weapons did work on everything.

    It's a discussion you should probably have in there if you don't.
    Yep, those subjects are all covered in the early parts of the handbook around the basics of critical hit rules.

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    Yep, those subjects are all covered in the early parts of the handbook around the basics of critical hit rules.
    Ah, I clicked on the "closer look at rules" part rather than the very beginning.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Violet Octopus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    Ah, I clicked on the "closer look at rules" part rather than the very beginning.
    To be fair it didn't include a reference to the FAQ specifically, but now does, so thanks for that!

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    If you mention double damage, you must mention this:

    A creature that flies can make dive attacks. A dive attack works just like a charge, but the diving creature must move a minimum of 30 feet and descend at least 10 feet. It can make only claw or talon attacks, but these deal double damage. A creature can use the run action while flying, provided it flies in a straight line.
    MM, p. 312

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    I'm not sure if this is in scope, but 'Great Flyby attack' has some substantial critical hit potential. You attack up to targets = dex bonus with a single attack roll and a single damage roll. Hence, if you can help a critical happen (via luck or Surge of Fortune), it can be applied many more times than normal.
    ExFighter: Immunity to Wizard
    Stutter Caster: Eliminate all spell defenses (SR, Save, AC).
    The Clockwork Wizard: All spells in no time.
    Piercing Immunities: Uncounterable Counters.
    Planar Soldiers of Mystra: Invincibility from planar traits.
    A Core Only Fighter 20 that kills things

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    Default Re: The Critical Hit Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthrowhale View Post
    I'm not sure if this is in scope, but 'Great Flyby attack' has some substantial critical hit potential. You attack up to targets = dex bonus with a single attack roll and a single damage roll. Hence, if you can help a critical happen (via luck or Surge of Fortune), it can be applied many more times than normal.
    Plus War Hulk from Miniatures Handbook.

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