Critical hits have become somewhat controversial in the world of Dungeons and Dragons in recent years. Many online arguments have resulted in the end of virtual friendships based on what is a crit and how to get one.
But don’t worry. 5e DnD has a particular method for critical hits. When a player attacks against a target, they roll a d20. Based on the results of that roll, a player hits or misses. However, if the d20 rolls and lands on a 20, this is known as a natural 20.
What is a Critical Hit?
When players roll a natural twenty, they automatically hit their target regardless of AC. A player only critically hits when they roll a twenty, not when you add up to a 20. For example, if your Fighter rolls a 15 with a plus 5 to attack, their attack score will be a 20. However, this is not a critical hit. You need a natural, unedited roll of 20 to critical hit.
Rolling a Natural 20 (or not)
You don’t always need to roll a natural 20 to get a critical score. In certain situations, with certain feats and benefits, rolling a 19 can result in a critical hit. A Fighter with the archetype of Champion with a critical hit at 19 or 20 once they reach level 3. When they get 15th level, the Champion archetype can critically hit at 20, 19, and 18.
Rolling a Critical Miss
DnD has balance, and you can critically fail. If your 20-sided die lands naturally on one, you are out of luck. If you roll a one, this is called a Critical Miss and your player automatically fails the attack. Unless you are a Bard with Reliable Talent making a skill check, which is a different story.
All players should be aware of the impact of a critical hit. Basically, when you make an attack roll, you’re checking to see how successful your attack was against your target’s defense. Rolling a nat 20 is the best you can do, so your attack deals more damage.
A critical hit in 5e does about twice as much damage as a normal hit. You roll for damage twice and add those two numbers together. For example, if you make a critical hit with your Warhammer, instead of rolling 1d8, you roll 2d8. Some Dungeon Masters will let you simply double the damage, but the DM has the final say.
DnD is a blend of skill and luck. The right roll at the right time, mixed with the right attack, can send your opponents flying. At the same time, there is always a chance for critical failure. Mechanics like these in 5e DnD make the game more enjoyable and dynamic.
There is always a chance you can fail, but there is an equally great chance you just might succeed. So keep rolling!
Jillian started learning Dungeons & Dragons in 2014. After being encouraged by a friend to make a character, she became fully involved in character creation and later became an awesome Dungeon Master. Jillian strives to use her creativity to spread her knowledge of DnD and interpret the ruleset.