Part of making some game mechanics work is creating multiple paths to reach the same conclusion. For example, if you want to make an odd rule like “maximize damage” work, you want to have multiple ways to achieve this result.

4e dropped the damage multipliers from 3e critical hits in favor of maximizing the damage roll. This is a really neat way of handling it. It might feel like a downgrade if you’re used to 3e crits but let me ask you this — how often did you score a critical hit only to roll minimum damage? I saw a lot of lackluster crits in 3e.

Max damage is a reasonable fix. It’s also easy to apply and remember.

Now here’s where it gets complicated and/or interesting from a design perspective. See, this is the only time in 4e where you just “maximize” the damage outside of the rare feat, class feature, magic item, or power.

Critical hits don’t really happen all too often, so while quick and easy to remember, it’s kind of inconsistent with the rest of the rules.

In previous posts, I’ve suggested a possibility for expanding the use of “maximize damage” to interactions between creatures of different sizes. For example, when an ogre swats a human or elf with its club, its damage is maximized.

Well, playing Mass Effect with all its bizarre and seemingly random references to “physics” got me wondering about size “thresholds” with respect to forced movement effects and powers. You can also fling objects around. It’s fun.

Morph-able terrain in the Worms series is a ton of fun. “Exploding barrels” kind of revolutionized first-person shooters. Exploiting terrain and environmental effects creates a new level of tactical depth to combat scenarios.

It’s just hard to manage these effects — even on a grid, with miniatures.

Well, I got this idea about how to retrofit/streamline size categories. Basically, rather than making them about trading a flaw for an advantage, defining size category with a unique advantage — and making them exclusive or stacking.

For example, perhaps “maximizing damage” on a regular hit is a benefit only granted by creatures of Large size. Why don’t bigger creatures maximize damage? They instead provide a different benefit like always attacking Reflex. If size effects stack — “Huge” creatures both maximize damage AND target Reflex.

Such a system might also finally provide an option that isn’t readily exploited by “Monkey Grip” effects, wherein a PC gains the benefits of being larger in size without the drawbacks. This makes size adjustments equivalent to feats.