And here we are, my last post for the 2013 A to Z Challenge. I finish up with some last rules-tweaks for my upcoming Stars Without Number campaign (which you can check out here).
The Natural 20
Any roll on a d20 that ends up showing 20 on the die face is a natural 20, and a natural 20 lets the rolling player bring the zowie.
The Natural 12
Any roll on 2d6 that ends up showing 6 on both dice is a natural 12, and a natural 12 lets the rolling player bring the zowie.
Many games have critical hits and/or critical success rules. Often, these rules magnify the success in some predetermined way. For example, a critical hit may do double damage or permit a roll on some table of grisly results. The ordinary sorts of critical success rules are fine, but they aren’t zowie. I want zowie. Preferably with an exclamation point. Zowie!
On a natural 20 or natural 12, the player gets almost total narrative control over the effects of his zowie success.
For example, Terry’s character Ebenezer is in a desperate fight with a Sarxian howling tiger. This isn’t a beast any sane person wants to face armed with only a synthalloy knife. Terry rolls a d20 for hack and slash, and he rolls a natural 20. Terry narrates the result: “I fall back as the Sarxian howling tiger leaps, its claws and fangs slashing the air, and I bring the synthalloy knife up in a desperate strike. The blade slips between the xenobeast’s ribs and punctures its heart, killing it almost instantly!”
For another example, Wes’s character Rob is piloting a lightly armed spaceskiff while being pursued by four pirate fighter crafts. He veers into a dense asteroid field, and must make a Vehicle/Space check. He rolls 2d6 and gets two sixes. Wes narrates the result: “I swoop into the asteroid field, putting more distance between me and the pirates. Then, I dive at a large asteroid, flying mere yards above its tumbling, unyielding surface, luring the four pirate fighter crafts into dangerous territory just as I rocket away from the asteroid’s crushing weight. Not all of the pirates manage to do likewise.”