||RDP: Critical Feats is a new book from Reality Deviant Publications (the RDP in the title), published through Ronin Arts. The zipped file is slightly over one megabyte in size, and contains two PDF files, one color and one printer-friendly. The color file is just under one meg in size, while the printer-friendly one is just over half a meg.
The color file is 18 pages long, and the printer-friendly file is 17. The extra page in the color version is due to advertisements (which aren?t present in the other file). The printer-friendly file is black and white, save for sections headers in red. Only the color file has bookmarks.
Both files have the same cover, depicting what appears to be three gladiators fighting in an arena. The image is set on a backdrop of smudged and bloodstained paper. The color file has its pages bored in red along the top, bottom, and outsides. The insides of the pages have the same bloody paper borders. Beyond the images of products in the ads at the end of the book, there is no other artwork.
Critical Feats isn?t the first book to try and offer an alternative system for critical hits in the d20 system, but it uses an innovative way of doing so. Instead of offering a completely alternative, more complex way of replacing crits, it instead offers ?[critical]? feats. A critical feat is a feat that lets you, when you score a critical hit, forgo doing additional damage to instead deal some special damaging effect.
After the (non-hyperlinked) table of contents and opening information (how to use the book, requirements for use, and designation of OGC), the book introduces the idea of critical feats, noting what kinds of creatures are immune to them, and that Fighters can take them as bonus feats. It also is wise enough to point out that some weapons normally have greater critical damage modifiers than others, and that these should have increased DCs on the Fortitude save a creature makes when it?s hit with a special effect from a critical feat.
After this, a new class of actions (in the vein of standard actions, move actions, free actions, etc.) is introduced: the abort action. Abort actions are defensive actions you may make when it is not your turn. The single new abort action specifically described here is the block action. A block action gives you the option of, when you?re attacked, making an opposed attack roll to block instead of using AC. Several options are given for when and how this works, making it a very nice rule that can be used in conjunction with the existing AC rules.
Forty-three new feats are introduced next. While most of them are critical feats, not all of them are. Several general feats are given, along with two divine feats and one epic feat. Critical feats themselves usually focus on doing damage to a specific body part, such as the Arm Breaker or Puncture Lung feats. Most of these feats allow a saving throw, and many of them can only be used with a specific type of weapon (often one that?s the focus of prerequisite feats). Most of these feats are designed quite well, and note how their conditions can have effects on specific actions. A few errors creep in though, such as the Arm Breaker feat noting that spellcasting characters with a broken arm can?t cast spells with somatic components (they can, since using somatic components only requires one arm). A sidebar mid-way through describes a new condition characters can be subject to: coma. One new spell (knit bones) and two new specific magic weapons are given after the feats.
The last section of the book introduces a dozen new weapons (some of which are OGC from other sources). A few of these weapons, such as the bola, are included because they have a critical feat about them. Most, however, seem to be included just because they?re cool. The one major flaw with this section, however, is the lack of pictures for the weapon. While their appearances are described, it really helps to have a picture when you?re discussing something like a wind and fire wheel, or a yuen yang razor.
Altogether, RDP: Critical Feats is the perfect choice for a GM who wants more colorful criticals in their game without being bogged down by large replacement tables. It gives new critical hit options while working with the existing system, instead of trying to replace it. While the book has some minor flaws, it?s by and large a critical hit itself.
LIKED: This product offered a great new system for critical hits that didn't conflict with the existing system, allowing for great flexibility. Supplementary information such as the block action superbly rounds out the new material presented here.
DISLIKED: The new weapons presented really should have had pictures to show us what they looked like.
VALUE: Very Satisfied
[4 of 5 Stars!]