Critical Hits While Brawling

I ran my group through another session today after a two-plus-month hiatus and had the opportunity to leverage what I wrote about in Put 'em up! Mastering Melee Combat. Since I used that as an opportunity to educate myself about how melee combat works, it's fortuitous that the only fight my players managed to find themselves in was a hand-to-hand brawl in a seedy gambling den, which really let me put what I learned to the test.

Plenty of hilarity ensued, including a drunk gambler getting aroused and a Gand getting punched - hard - below the belt. What followed was a PC sitting atop the drunk, pinning him to the ground, and landing a punch that was so triumphant that is shattered his solar plex and took him out of the fight permanently.

This brought up a question I hadn't though about before: can you score a critical hit while brawling? It stands to reason you can hit someone really hard, such as the PC above did. As a result, we rolled up a critical injury to add to the injury, but what about damage? Normal critical hits with a weapon cause it to do its full damage rating, but… fists don't have that. You're already adding your Brawn to the damage done, so that's maxed. You could allow them to do double their Brawn, I suppose.

In our case the PC only had one net success, which felt… lackluster for such a triumphant blow. Then again, I suppose that's where the critical injury comes into play to make it more interesting and rewarding for the players. Still, it feels like they get cheated a little.

Reading the Core Rulebook, on page 211 under "Unarmed Combat" it reads as follows:

Brawl weapons can add damage to this attack (as indicated in the Brawl profile on page 166), and may have an improved Critical Rating and additional weapon qualities. When using a Brawl weapon, the user can choose to use its Critical Rating instead of the standard Brawl Critical Rating.

Looking at Brawling Weapons on page 161, Brass Knuckles have a damage of +1 and a crit rating of 4, whereas Shock Gloves deal +0 damage and crit with 5 advantage. Given those numbers, there isn't really a max damage to add like you get with… Okay, I just realized, I'm mixing systems. There is no "max damage" for weapons. You always deal the base plus any net successes. It's been so long I'm reverting to the D20 way of thinking!

Next time I'll re-read my own posts for review before wading into unfamiliar territories, as I just found I had even mentioned Brawl attacks having a default critical rating of 5. I think we need to play more often. ;)

Mike Branski

A first-time GM diving into FFG's Star Wars RPG, Dungeon World, Fiasco, and more, sharing his experiences and helping you get the most out of the systems you love - even if you don't know it yet.