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Called Shots

Some players and game masters might desire to include rules for called shots in their games.

Called shots can give an element of flavor and heroic drama to combat. As we designed these rules, we attempted to give them the flavor desired without overly unbalancing the effect. After all, this is a game of randomness. Everyone gets lucky rolls sometimes… even the monsters.

Called Shot Mechanics

In order to perform a called shot, a player must declare their called shot attempt and location before making their attack rolls. Once declared, the player suffers disadvantage on the called shot attack roll. An attack roll suffering disadvantage already automatically fails as a called shot attempt.

Each called shot attempt also modifies a creature’s AC. If the attack roll succeeds, hitting the monster’s modified called shot AC, the attacker hits and deals damage normally, but also deals the called shot effect.

Sometimes a save is called for. In such cases, the target must make a Constitution save equal to the amount of damage inflicted. On a failed save, they suffer a penalty of some kind, or an additional effect.

Why Disadvantage?

Let’s imagine for a moment that you are aiming for the head of a goblin. You fire your arrow off at his head, a harder target than hitting the ‘gobbo’ dead center in the chest. He shuffles a bit to the right, and you miss by a mere inch.

Had you fired dead center to the chest, that slight movement might not have had any effect and you would have nailed the goblin. Called shots are risk versus reward.

With this system, disadvantage represents the challenge of aiming at a particular target, while the AC bonus of specific targeted areas show the relative difficulty of striking smaller targets.

Example: Beleg Steelsong decides to make a called shot to the vitals (+2 AC) against his target. Beleg normally has a +7 bonus to attack rolls. He makes his first attack at disadvantage, rolling an 8 and a 13. His opponent, a troll, normally has an AC of 15. He fails the attack because he did not succeed in his AC 17 called shot attempt, even though he would have hit the troll normally. On his next turn, he attempts another called shot to the troll’s arms (+2 AC). He rolls a 12 and a 17. Even with disadvantage, he rolled a 19, beating the troll’s AC and called shot AC bonus.

Optional Rule: If both attacks hit the target, but you missed the increased AC of the called shot, you do normal damage against the target as though you made a normal attack (no special effect).

Arms/Wings (+2 AC)

Arms are the manipulating limbs of a creature, including tentacles. Wings are also considered to be arms for the purposes of a called shot.

Save: Constitution

Effect: On a failed save, any ability checks made using the wounded arm suffer disadvantage for 1d4 minutes or until the creature receives healing. A flying creature shot in the wing descends involuntarily if they fail their saving throw.

Critical Effect: On a critical hit, if the target fails their save, the attack severs an important muscle or tendon and the arm or wing becomes useless unless healed with a lesser restoration or heal spell.

Healing: When an effect requires healing, any rest that allows you to regain hit points, curative magic or potions also counts. Some effects require magic healing.

Chest (+0 AC)

Called shots to the chest are aimed at the wellprotected center of mass of a creature.

Save: Constitution Effect: A called shot to the chest deals no additional damage, but causes the target to gain 1 level of exhaustion.

Critical Effect: On a critical hit the exhaustion levels increase to 1d3.

Ear (+4 AC)

Ears are the organs used to hear. Creatures without visible ears are not susceptible to called shots to that location.

Save: Constitution Effect: A called shot to the ear deafens that ear for 1d4 minutes, and imposes disadvantage on hearing-based Perception checks. A creature that loses hearing in all ears is deafened until hearing is returned by way of the lesser restoration spell or a similar effect.

Critical Effect: On a failed save, the target is permanently deafened unless healed with a lesser restoration or heal spell.

Eye (+4 AC)

Eyes include whatever organs a creature uses to see. At the Gamemaster’s discretion, a called shot to the eye can also target sensory organs such as antennae, potentially negating abilities like blindsense. Generally, a creature can’t be blinded until it has lost all vision in all of its eyes. Creatures with five or more eyes take no penalties from called shots to their eyes until they’re blinded in enough eyes to bring them down a single functional eye, but can still be blinded in that eye by a critical hit or debilitating blow.

Save: Dexterity

Effect: A called shot to the eye causes disadvantage on attacks and disadvantage on all sight-based Perception checks for 1d4 rounds. If the creature only has one functional eye prior to the called shot, it is blinded for 1d4 rounds instead.

Critical Effect: On a failed save against a critical hit, the eye is lost or destroyed and they are considered permanently blind in that eye unless sight is returned with a lesser restoration spell.

Hand (+2 AC)

Hands include most extremities used for fine manipulation.

Save: Dexterity

Effect: For 1d4 rounds, any attack rolls, ability checks made using the wounded hand suffer disadvantage, including attack rolls with twohanded weapons. Damage rolls do not gain any benefit from Strength or Dexterity scores. If the target is wielding a weapon or other held object, they must make a successful Strength or Dexterity saving throw (target’s choice) or drop the held object.

Critical Effect: If the target fails their saving throw, the hand is permanently damaged and the resulting penalties also become permanent unless the target receives healing from a lesser restoration or heal spell.

Head (+2 AC)

Called shots to the head are tricky, as most creatures show some skill at dodging attacks aimed at their faces. Some creatures, such as otyughs and purple worms, lack a proper head altogether. Creatures without heads are not subject to the effects of a head shot.

Save: Constitution

Effect: A called shot to the head leaves the target stunned for 1 round. If a creature has more than one head, it instead suffers disadvantage on its next action on its turn.

Critical Effect: If the target fails their saving throw, they are instead stunned (or suffer disadvantage) for 1d4 rounds.

Heart (+4 AC)

A called shot to the heart represents an attempt at a killing blow. A called shot to the heart can be used for any small, likely fatal location on a creature, such as the only weakness on an unimaginably ancient red dragon.

Save: Constitution

Effect: A critical hit to the heart pierces the organ, causing exhaustion and double damage. In addition, the target suffers damage each round equal to the base damage dice inflicted until dead or healed. In either case, stopping the damage requires either regeneration (spell or special ability), magic healing that heals as many points of damage (from one or more sources) as the original blow dealt, or a successful DC 20 Heal check that takes 1d4 rounds to complete.

Critical Effect: If the target fails their saving throw, they lose half their maximum hit points and suffer the ongoing damage as above.

Leg (+2 AC)

Legs are the ambulatory limbs of a creature, including feet. Called shots to the leg have no special effect on creatures with five or more legs.

Save: Strength or Dexterity (target’s choice) Effect: A called shot to a leg halves the target creature’s speed for 1d4 rounds if it has two or fewer legs, and by 10 feet if it has more than two legs. The speed penalty for hits on legs stack, but the creature’s speed cannot be reduced below 5 feet per round. Additionally, any skill or ability checks involving movement (such as Acrobatics or Athletics checks) suffer disadvantage.

Critical Effect: If the target fails their saving throw, their leg is permanently damaged and healing that damage requires either regeneration (spell or special ability), magic healing that heals as many points of damage (from one or more sources) as the original blow dealt, or a successful DC 20 Heal check that takes 1d4 rounds to complete.

Neck (+2 AC)

The neck makes for a difficult but rewarding target. Injuries to the neck keep a creature from speaking easily, and if blood vessels or the windpipe are damaged, such injuries rapidly lead to death. Creatures that lack vulnerable heads generally can’t be attacked in the neck.

Effect: A called shot to the neck makes speaking above a hoarse whisper impossible for 1d4 rounds. Spells with verbal components suffer disadvantage, and attempts to activate commandword items suffer a 50% chance of failure. In addition, the target suffers the effects of critical damage.

Critical Effect: If the target fails their save, they suffer the above effects, but also suffer ongoing damage equal to the base damage dice that inflicted the wound each round until healed.

Vitals (+2 AC)

The vitals correspond to the abdomen on a humanoid: critical organs not well-protected by bone. Attacks on the vitals can also include dastardly “low blows.” Vitals for non-humanoid creatures can include nearly any location that is relatively hard to hit, poorly protected, and debilitating if struck.

Save: Constitution Effect: A called shot to the vitals leaves the target stunned for 1 round. While suffering from the effects of this blow, the target cannot take the Dash or Disengage action.

Critical Effect: If the target fails their save, the duration of the above effects are increased to 1d4 rounds.

Called Shot Feats

Called Shot Mastery

Prerequisite(s): Proficiency with Perception, Dexterity 15 or higher.

Your ability to land called shots is astonishing.

  • You treat called shot penalties as two less when performing called shots.
  • If you miss a called shot, but both dice would hit normally, you still deal normal damage to the target.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Fighter Folio © 2018 Total Party Kill Games; Authors: Brian Berg, Mark A. Hart.