Acing the Damage in DnD

Damage Potential

I’ve heard/seen many people complain how damage in DnD isn’t that dangerous, which makes it come to a crawl, especially at higher levels when players have buckets of HP, higher AC, oodles of feats, magic items, potions, and better saves.

The other day I got to wondering what if DnD combat took a page out of Savage Worlds? In SW whenever damage is rolled and the maximum number is achieved it is called an Ace. The die gets to be rolled again, and the next number added to the amount, this can keep Acing until you no longer hit the highest number (IE- Roll a d6, get a 6. Roll again, get a 6. Roll again, get a 4= 16).

Now imagine that kind of damage in DnD off of one die roll. Over at Geek Life Project, there is an excellent post on how players have to rethink combat once you pick up your SW character sheet, as opposed to say 3.5/4e DnD.

Acing damage in DnD would force players to rethink how they charge in, make them ask about their environment, asking for things like tables and bookcases for cover. Even though wizards and sorcerers will still have the chance to vastly out damage rogues, fighters, and rangers, the ability to ace gives the martial classes a chance to do more heavy damage at later levels than is the norm.

I will try this experiment with my current DnD game to see how it pans out.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?


About wrathofzombie

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn. View all posts by wrathofzombie

5 responses to “Acing the Damage in DnD

  • vortimax

    Hi there,

    Although i do like SW very much, I have to admit I don’t like the idea of incorporating the ace rule to damage rolls in D&D (yet). What to do with genuine critical hits? Moreover, how do you counter the problem that it is much more likely to roll aces on a d4 than on a d10? What to do with the weapons that do 2d6 damage? To much for me to worry about.
    However, I share your concerns regarding the buckets of HP. To avoid tinkering to much I’d recommend decreasing the buckets. Seems to me to be a more direct approach to the problem.

    • wrathofzombie

      @ vortimax- I agree on all accounts, and actually I forgot to put something about criticals and I meant to>.< Sigh..

      I just know that I watch my players get so excited about acing in SW (which happens more often than not) and in DnD they really only get excited about rolls when they crit.

      While I think critting with Aces would be MASSIVELY dangerous, at the same time… What a way to put fear in the DM and the players.. All would be, I don't want to say cowardly, but more cautious with their creations instead of running pel mel into the fray (or say a wizard knowing that the warrior can soak the damage from a Fireball spell that they cast into the middle of melee).

      I agree that your point on lower HP would be the most direct route and probably simplify things (which is something I have already done. I USUALLY lower my monsters HP and up their damage to combat the grind of combat. I have my houserule mechanics posted back in Jan as well.

  • rogercarbol

    It’ll really encourage people to use 2d4 weapons instead of 1d8 weapons, for example.

  • Anarkeith

    The Chatty DM, over at Critical Hits, has a series of posts about related topics in 4e. Specifically, he’s advocating upping the damage potential of monsters, and adding damaging traps, to put pressure on efficient parties of PCs. In my primitive rules, PCs have a limited HP total, which achieves a similar effect. However, they hit more often (they buy to hit skill with XP) so they get through combats more efficiently. The right balance is difficult to achieve, so tread lightly is my advice. What about each aced roll granting one additional die of a lesser size (e.g., a 6 on a d6 grants a roll on a d4)?

  • Nimbex

    Statistically, a d4 and d20 have the same bonus damage potential if you put in the ace (or “exploding damage”) rule. Do the math for yourself, but it works out, since the odds of a d4 acing are higher, but the expected benefit is less. On average, an exploding die is worth 0.5 more expected value than a non-exploding die, regardless of size.

    That said, I really enjoyed the exploding damage dice in HackMaster. Any hit had a chance, albeit small, to be a killing blow. The excitement at a table when a die explodes three times in a row is palpable.

    Whether this is right for a given gaming group is up to the players. Some people like the random chance that a beetle beheads their fighter. Some don’t. In general, more randomness is more likely to get player characters killed.

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