The full title of this blog post should be Crimson Escalation while playtesting the Cremza'amirikza'am megadungeon, but I think that might break the internet.
Speaking of internet breakage, I didn't want to overpromise on this little mechanic until I had properly playtested it.
Even though I've only tested it once, I believe this could be the single greatest combat-related system improvement since 5e came out with Advantage and Disadvantage.
I'm calling it Crimson Escalation. In the simplest terms, it's a progressive critical-hit range. The first round, crits happen on a natural 20. The second round, crits happen on a natural 19 or 20. Third round, it's a natural 18-20, etc.
Some optional fiddly-bits could be added, but that's the basic premise. As I theorized, here are the results...
- Combat was shorter - without it, combat would have dragged on longer. More misses and lower damage leads to longer combats. Boring!
- Combat was more brutal - I think we can all agree, watching someone whittle away at the trunk of a tree is less satisfying than seeing it chopped in twain with a battle-axe.
- Combat was more tense - as combat continued, the stakes grew higher because every round it became easier to hit with a higher probability of greater damage.