A while back (2 weeks to a month, I think), I was reading some blog or other that I can't seem to locate now, talking about a simple system for allowing called shots to various body parts, special attacks like pulling the rug out from under a swordsman's feet, disarms, wrestling, etc. without the standard "take a penalty to hit, and if you hit it will work" stuff that often gets used, and makes people not want to do them so often.
The idea was that the player declares they'll try such and such a move. They roll to hit as normal. If they hit, they succeed as long as the opponent's player allows them to succeed, or on a critical hit they succeed even if the opponent's player doesn't want them to succeed. If the opponent doesn't want the special attack to succeed, they take damage as normal.
I think that was how it went anyway. I'm intrigued by the possibilities for this, as I'm a fan of swashbuckling movies and would love to add in more of this sort of thing to my D&D games.
But the problem is that Classic D&D doesn't use critical hits. Sure, you can always just do it on a natural 20, but shouldn't Fighter types be better at this than the Magic-Users? I'd rather not bring in d20 system style confirmation rolls. But then I was looking at the rules for monsters that "swallow whole." That's basically a monster doing exactly this--making a special type of attack that goes off on a crit, and does normal damage on any other successful role.
Of course, not every monster gets handled the same way. Giant Toads only succeed on a natural 20 against Dwarves and Halflings, Caecillia and T-Rex get a natural 19-20, and the granddaddy of swallowing whole, the Purple Worm, gets a natural 20 or 4 better than needed to hit to succeed.
This gives me two options for implementation:
Option 1, Level Based:
Low level characters only auto succeed on a natural 20.
Hero level (1st rise in attacks/saves 4th for Fighters, 5th for Clerics/Thieves, 6th for M-Us) get a natural 19-20.
Super-Hero level (8th for Fighters, Name for everyone else) get natural 20 or 4 better.
Option 2, Class Based:
Non-Fighter types (M-U) only auto succeed on a natural 20
Semi-Fighter types (Cleric, Thief) get a natural 19-20
Fighter types (Fighters, Demi-Humans) get a natural 20 or 4 better
Might work. I may give Option 2 a try and see how it goes. Not sure how the players would react to the Name level guys losing the natural 19... Not that we'll be at Name level any time soon in my Classic sandbox game.