I had a friend tell me about a DnD 3.5 specialization for a fighter class, the crit fighter. Somehow, using the int score, this class would lower the die needed for a crit, and could, for instance, crit on a 14 rather than a 20. I am just wondering if anyone else has heard of this or something similar. If you have, would you please post a link to the source? Thanks.
I'm not familiar with the Int rule but there are several ways to lower your crit so that you have a good crit chance (>25%).
First you start with a weapon with a high critical range. The obvious choices are Rapier (1d6, 18-20/x2), Scimitar (1d6, 18-20/x2) and Falchion (2d4, 18-20/x2). Many people prefer the Falchion as a two handed weapon and therefore a better damage dealer.
Next you double the crit range. There are many ways to do it, but in the often the best way to do it (especially over a campaign) is to take the feat Improved Critical. This extends your critical range to 15-20, giving you a 6/20 (30%) critical threat chance. The other options are the Keen weapon enhancement, a Scabbard of Keen Edges, and the Keen Edge spell. Note that these effects don't stack so you only need one.
This benefit doesn’t stack with any other effect that expands the threat range of a weapon (such as the keen edge spell or the Improved Critical feat).
Next most players take feats and abilities to increase their attack, to confirm more critical threats. Once that reaches a certain level they invest in additional damage. The Burst enhancements (Icy Burst, etc) are often chosen because this build makes better use of their crit damage.
All references from d20SRD.org
Here's how you get a threat range of 13-20 or better.
- Wield a weapon with 18-20 threat range (scimitar, for example)
- Take the Improved Critical feat to double your threat range
- Take the Disciple of Dispater prestige class for the level 8 Iron Power ability, which grants triple threat range and stacks with Improved Critical
- Additionally, a barbarian with the urban class feature variant gains +1 to threat range on a charge or flat-footed opponent
You now have a threat range of 9-20. With the urban barbarian, you have 8-20 on a charge or versus a flat-footed opponent.
If you don't want to play an evil character, the Weapon Master (Sword and Fist, 3.0) or Psychic Weapon Master (WotC web article, 3.5) will give you +2 to threat range, for a respectable 13-20. My old fighter character not only took this combination, but created a scabbard which applied the paladin spell bless weapon, which automatically confirms critical hits against evil foes.
If you're willing to delve into third-party, 3.0 and pre-errata material, there are some 17-20 base weapons that will give you an even more ridiculous threat range: with the Dispater prestige class, 5-20.
I've found nothing official that allows a creature to add its Intelligence modifier to the threat range of a weapon it employs. No official feat does this, no official class—standard or prestige—does this, and no magic item or special ability does this. However, unofficially, over on the Giant in the Playground forums in Mar. 2010, a homebrew monster class was posted for the gloom (Epic Level Handbook 192–3). At level 14 the homebrew monster class gloom gains the natural ability killing edge that says
Whenever a gloom delivers a sucessfull critical, it adds +1d6 damage to. If the weapon has an higher crit mod than normal, it deals an extra +1d6 for each point that it is higher than x2 (+2d6 for x3, +3d6 for x4, etc)
In adition, for any simple weapon it wields, the Gloom can either replace the threat range by his int modifer, or the crit multiplier by half his int modifier.
So, a gloom with an int of 22 could either make a normal dagger threaten a crit on a range of 15-20 or change the dagger's crit multipler to x3.
(Presentation preserved from the original for ease of searching; insert your own [sic]s.) It's possible your buddy—like me—read this May 2011 thread in his search for ways to increase threat ranges. That thread references this monster class, and your buddy may've assumed (probably without looking) that the gloom homebrew monster class was official. (It's totally not.) It's also possible that during the d20 boom a third-party publisher created an effect like what your buddy describes, but I've not happened upon it.
Nonetheless, a threat range of greater than 14–20 is fairly easy to attain: either take the feat Improved Critical (Player's Handbook 95) and apply the feat's benefit to a weapon that's normal threat range is 18–20 like the rapier or take a similar masterwork weapon, make it magical, then apply to it the magic weapon special ability keen. Afterward, it's just a matter increasing such a weapon's threat range by one more as a +1 pitspawned (Dungeon Master's Guide II 278) keen (DMG 225) rapier (PH 116, 120) (9,320 gp; 2 lbs.) or a rapier-armed combatant that possesses the feat Improved Critical (rapier) has a threat range of 15–20. Ways to get that threat range even higher are few, but some can be combined.
- The prestige class mythic exemplar (Complete Champion 86–90) of Sunyartra at level 2 gains the supernatural ability least paragon's gift that allows the exemplar to take a swift action 1/day to increase by 1 the threat range of one weapon the exemplar wields… for 1 round/class level. This explicitly stacks with other sources.
- Sinking a whopping seven levels into barbarian is generally considered a bad move, but a barbarian that at level 7 trades his future DR for the alternative class feature streetfighter (Cityscape Web enhancement "Cityscape, Part 1") gains the ability to increase his weapon's threat range by 1 when he's making a charge or attacking a flat-footed foe. This also explicitly stacks.
- The prestige class disciple of Dispater (Book of Vile Darkness 60) that was untouched by the 3.5 revision therefore legal (with minor adjustments made by the DM) for use in 3.5 campaigns gains at level 4 and sees improvement at level 8 of the extraordinary ability iron power that doubles then triples, respectively, the threat range of an iron or steel weapon the disciple uses. It explicitly does not stack with the magic weapon special ability keen but does stack with the feat Improved Critical.
- The prestige class psychic weapon master that already possesses the feat Improved Critical at level 7 instead sees threat ranges of his weapon of choice increase by 2. A weapon of choice must be made from some kind of crystal.
- While the prestige class weapon master (Sword and Fist 38–9) is officially superseded by the prestige class exotic weapon master (Complete Warrior 30–1) (see the D&D Archive Web article "Feats, Prestige Classes, and Spells: Rules Reference"), the prestige class weapon master (kensai) (Oriental Adventures 53–4) is not likewise superseded… and unchanged by the official 3.5 revision to Oriental Adventures in the Dragon #318 article "Oriental Adventures Update: Eastern Flavor" (32–48). So, while a little shady, the weapon master (kensai) at level 7—if he already possesses the feat Improved Critical—sees the natural ability ki critical grant the kensai an increase of +2 to the threat range of his weapon of choice. (This increase always applies last, but at least the weapon can be made from any material!) Note that the prestige class's entry requirements are—to put it mildly—ridiculous.
- The prestige class arcane duelist at level 7 grants the creature the extraordinary ability false keenness that allows the arcane duelist 1/day per arcane duelist level to reduce a weapon's damage by its base threat range (e.g. a rapier sees its damage reduced by 3) to double the same weapon's threat range. This stacks with the feat Improved Critical but not with a magical keen effect.
- Although it doesn't help with the threat range, when making the critical roll (the roll that's made to confirm a critical hit) a warblade at level 3 gains the extraordinary ability battle ardor (critical confirmation) that grants the warblade an insight bonus equal to his Intelligence bonus on critical rolls. The prestige class paragnostic initiate (CC 97–9)—that can be taken as the creature's fifth character level—at level 1 gains the extraordinary ability tactical combat and can pick deadly strike to gain a +2 bonus on critical rolls. Similarly, the general feat (and fighter bonus feat) Power Critical (CW 103) can be taken multiple times, picked for the same weapon multiple times, and its benefit stacks, granting the creature a cumulative +4 bonus critical rolls with a picked weapon. Finally, consider a +1 bloodlust (Forge of War 119) light steel shield (PH 123, 125) (7,159 gp; 6 lbs.) to gain a +4 morale bonus critical rolls. Many other ways exist to improve critical rolls; these are just a small sample.
Taking many of these classes as a lone character is a difficult enterprise—they're largely incompatible given the high levels at which their abilities kick in, not to mention their entry requirements—, but the clear winner is 8 levels of the prestige class disciple of Dispater and the feat Improved Critical. Going, for example, barbarian 7/warblade 3/mythic exemplar 2 of Sunyartra/disciple of Dispater 8 would seem to require some mental gymnastics to role-play, but, if the guy possesses the feat Improved Critical, for 2 rounds per day against either a flat-footed foe or a foe that the guy charges, his iron or steel rapier (or kukri or great scimitar) has a threat range of 7–20.
Note: It's important to keep in mind that an attack roll's natural result that's within a weapon's threat range does not mean the attack automatically hits and deals damage (unless the roll's a natural 20). An attacker must still also meet or exceed the defender's AC with his total attack roll result (die roll result plus attack roll modifiers) before he's entitled to make the critical roll that may or may not confirm the critical hit.
Expanding crit range using Int was described as a feat benefit in a movie that invented D&D feats to serve the narrative; it was never part of D&D
It's not part of any official D&D 3/3.5E material, but a low-budget (but hilarious) movie, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising (released in 2008, and clearly using 3.5 material, showing a copy of the 3.5 PHB on screen), features a character who plays a Fighter optimized for finesse and critical hits instead of strength and durability; the player notes that as a result of her feats, she "adds [her] Dex and Int bonuses to [her] crit range", getting a crit range of "13-20, without bonuses". It's wholly possible someone who'd seen that movie believed it was using actual D&D rules.
You can see the scene here (I had it jump you to the beginning of her ridiculous first turn, which features other non-existent game features like her feat First Strike, which supposedly lets you get a bonus attack if you go first and drop an opponent with your attack; the explanation of her crit range and other features all occurs within one minute of where the link begins in the video).
\$\begingroup\$ +1, sounds plausible! First Strike sounds like a very weak version of Cleave, though. And Cleave is already hot garbage. \$\endgroup\$– KRyanJun 25, 2022 at 3:37
\$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: Yeah, First Strike is total garbage; it only even comes up because the player also took Improved Initiative (another fairly garbage feat for most fighters) and had a high Dex bonus (making them fairly likely to go first) and was a high level (9th) Fighter beating up a mob of weakling goblins (making it plausible they could drop one in a single hit). It was an amusing conceit, but they definitely warped the rules and the scenario a lot to allow her to make a super-effective Fighter with no Str or Con bonuses, just Dex, Int and Cha. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 25, 2022 at 3:53
the weapon master (kensai) in the oriental adventure books states that upon reaching 7th lvl in kensai achieves an additive to crit range and it stacks with improved crits. so i'm not sure but by the time you reach epic levels you could have classes in kensai, and Disciple of Dispater, the psychic weapon master, plus the barbarian with the urban class feature should stack. Schimitar crit 18-20 + improved crit + kensai levels+ disciple of dispater+ psychic weapon master.
5\$\begingroup\$ Welcome. Could you add some more details to this? Perhaps a specific build or some discussion of expected damage? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2013 at 14:50
It is possible, by mixing levels in monk and fighter, to get a 20th level character specialized in bladed gauntlets to have a crit range of 12-20. Base of 17-20, keen weapon for 16-20, then improved threat range for 12-20, IIRC. I did the math for that back when the complete fighter book was released. You'll need the weapon specialization, improved threat range and a couple other specific feats; I no longer have the math, and the board I wrote it up on is no longer present online (nor was it in the Web Archive).
But pushing threat range down so far isn't all that useful; as C Ross notes, at some point, most start using feats on other things.
1\$\begingroup\$ I didn't think Improved Critical stacked with anything, though I could be mistaken. Also mixing monk and fighter is nonstandard (except in settings like Eberron) because monk has a single class requirement (can't class back in monk after something else). \$\endgroup\$– C. RossOct 12, 2011 at 20:12
2\$\begingroup\$ it doesnt. per the d20srd: This effect doesn’t stack with any other effect that expands the threat range of a weapon. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12, 2011 at 22:35
\$\begingroup\$ That only worked back in 3.0. \$\endgroup\$– LitheOhmAug 23, 2012 at 19:01
\$\begingroup\$ But it DID work in 3.0. I never really got into 3.5 \$\endgroup\$– aramisAug 24, 2012 at 0:47