Ability Check Criticals
  • Ability Check Criticals


    A new article over on EN5ider! Rolling a natural 20 or a natural 1 has never been so much fun! With these ability check critical effects for your 5E game, there are positive and negative tables for physical, social, medicine, knowledge, and arcane style checks. By Jeff Gomez; illustrated by Herman Lau.




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    • #242. Ability Check Criticals. Rolling a natural 20 or a natural 1 has never been so much fun! With these ability check critical effects, there are positive and negative tables for physical, social, medicine, knowledge, and arcane style checks. By Jeff Gomez; illustrated by Herman Lau.
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    Comments 20 Comments
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      Not a fan of empowering the dice with Nat 1/20 additions.

      However...

      In 5e rules under Ability Checks its stated that any failed ability check can result in some progress (different from overcome the challenge) with setback. So, no roll of 1 is needed to get setbacks like these as long as they also gain a little positive out of it.

      A lot of the "Nat 1" criticals here will serve that basic rule just fine without needing any house rule for 1/20 ability checks - so i find this article useful.

      Basic Rules - Ability Checks
      If the total equals or exceeds the DC, the ability check is a success--the creature overcomes the challenge at hand. Otherwise, it's a failure, which means the character or monster makes no progress toward the objective or makes progress combined with a setback determined by the DM.
    1. jmucchiello's Avatar
      jmucchiello -
      Just follow "Your player said what" on tumblr to get a sickening amount of stupid GM rulings when Nat 1s and Nat 20s are rolled for skill checks. Don't need such idiocy statted out.

      I know I'm drifting into badwrongfun land here but I don't think you can seduce the Lich Queen just because you rolled a 20 on a persuasion check, once.
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      Quote Originally Posted by jmucchiello View Post
      Just follow "Your player said what" on tumblr to get a sickening amount of stupid GM rulings when Nat 1s and Nat 20s are rolled for skill checks. Don't need such idiocy statted out.

      I know I'm drifting into badwrongfun land here but I don't think you can seduce the Lich Queen just because you rolled a 20 on a persuasion check, once.
      For some reason "seducing the Lich Queen" sounds more like a result of a "some progress with setback" (or NAT 1) to me...

      "I will agree to hear out your group's petition tomorrow even though i find it not quite so appealing as to grant it outright. perhaps you might come see me tonight and see if you can make it more "appealing" to me."

      :-)
    1. doctorbadwolf's Avatar
      doctorbadwolf -
      Quote Originally Posted by jmucchiello View Post
      Just follow "Your player said what" on tumblr to get a sickening amount of stupid GM rulings when Nat 1s and Nat 20s are rolled for skill checks. Don't need such idiocy statted out.

      I know I'm drifting into badwrongfun land here but I don't think you can seduce the Lich Queen just because you rolled a 20 on a persuasion check, once.
      It's definitely a game style, not a case of badwrongfun, but for most games you're right.

      Although to be fair, seducing the Lich Queen doesn't mean she isn't just as dangerous to you as before. She is a lich. She is beyond her emotions. She will sacrifice even that which she loves most at the alter of power. She will rip out your heart and feed the power of your death into the dread machine of her ambition even as she grieves for the loss of you.

      Seducing the Lich Queen may be possible, and it may even happen quickly and with little real work, if the circumstance is right, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea.
    1. doctorbadwolf's Avatar
      doctorbadwolf -
      Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
      For some reason "seducing the Lich Queen" sounds more like a result of a "some progress with setback" (or NAT 1) to me...

      "I will agree to hear out your group's petition tomorrow even though i find it not quite so appealing as to grant it outright. perhaps you might come see me tonight and see if you can make it more "appealing" to me."

      :-)
      Reminds me of this: http://keith-baker.com/erandis-vol-hot-or-not/
    1. robus's Avatar
      robus -
      Quote Originally Posted by jmucchiello View Post
      I know I'm drifting into badwrongfun land here but I don't think you can seduce the Lich Queen just because you rolled a 20 on a persuasion check, once.
      Well the assumption going in is that the DM only called for a roll when there's uncertainty in the result. If the Lich Queen is not interested in seduction then there is no roll. It seems too many DMs allow or call for too many rolls making tables, such as these, overkill. For DMs that strike the right balance there's nothing wrong with introducing some extra fun into the times when the roll is needed.
    1. ad_hoc's Avatar
      ad_hoc -
      Quote Originally Posted by robus View Post
      Well the assumption going in is that the DM only called for a roll when there's uncertainty in the result. If the Lich Queen is not interested in seduction then there is no roll. It seems too many DMs allow or call for too many rolls making tables, such as these, overkill. For DMs that strike the right balance there's nothing wrong with introducing some extra fun into the times when the roll is needed.
      Yeah, agreed.

      We just started a new group. We have 3 new players, 2 players from previous editions but who have been playing 5e since 2014, and one player who last played 3.5. That last player keeps declaring he's making a ____ roll and grabbing his d20 before the DM says anything. We've only had a couple sessions so I'm sure he will come around, that habit though can be hard to break.
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      Quote Originally Posted by robus View Post
      Well the assumption going in is that the DM only called for a roll when there's uncertainty in the result. If the Lich Queen is not interested in seduction then there is no roll. It seems too many DMs allow or call for too many rolls making tables, such as these, overkill. For DMs that strike the right balance there's nothing wrong with introducing some extra fun into the times when the roll is needed.
      Within the context of this particular rule suggestion - it explicitly states that unlike hits - no auto-success or failure is given by the 1 and 20. these are additional effects, outside the main thrust of the task at times.
    1. Paragon Lost's Avatar
      Paragon Lost -
      Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
      Within the context of this particular rule suggestion - it explicitly states that unlike hits - no auto-success or failure is given by the 1 and 20. these are additional effects, outside the main thrust of the task at times.
      Which is entirely your choice within the game that you run. Personally I enjoy critical hits and failures and that's how it's played at my place. No matter how many times you quote the rules.
    1. jmucchiello's Avatar
      jmucchiello -
      Quote Originally Posted by robus View Post
      Well the assumption going in is that the DM only called for a roll when there's uncertainty in the result. If the Lich Queen is not interested in seduction then there is no roll. It seems too many DMs allow or call for too many rolls making tables, such as these, overkill. For DMs that strike the right balance there's nothing wrong with introducing some extra fun into the times when the roll is needed.
      The stories I see are usually the DM is upset after and even when they do it reluctantly, there's a difference between "she gives you a wink and says, 'I admire your audacity but your friends must die for entering my sanctum. I'll keep you alive because you amuse me.' " and "she finds you so hot she gives you all her treasure and vows to help you in future endeavors."
    1. epithet's Avatar
      epithet -
      Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
      Not a fan of empowering the dice with Nat 1/20 additions.
      ...
      You can always regard critical success/failure as beating the DC by more than 10 or failing by more than 15, or whatever floats your boat. This is a house rule, after all.
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paragon Lost View Post
      Which is entirely your choice within the game that you run. Personally I enjoy critical hits and failures and that's how it's played at my place. No matter how many times you quote the rules.
      Well, thanks for the snack of attitude there at the end. I was just pointing out to the poster who was commenting on how they did not go for the auto-success on 20 bit that it actually was not part of this particular product - the ENW PDF on ability crits.

      If somehow you took that as a challenge to your playstyle, I suggest you take it up with the author, not me.
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      Quote Originally Posted by epithet View Post
      You can always regard critical success/failure as beating the DC by more than 10 or failing by more than 15, or whatever floats your boat. This is a house rule, after all.
      Absolutely!

      If i were going to implement critical success it would be based on something related to character skill, not just the plastic bouncey bouncey bit of "natural roll of". The "succeed by xxx" is one such method (esp if combined with requiring proficiency as well and obviously no disadvantage) and another is a notion of requiring disadvantage to be "taken" to go for "a crit success" and combos of the options etc. This is especially true if the crit is "chosen" not randomly rolled.

      Generally, i prefer empowering characters, their abilities and choices with "cool options" and not "natural rolls" that are divorced from all those actual in setting aspects and choices.

      So, when i house rule - that is indeed how i focus my mechanics - choices and characters spotlight over "natural dice" spotlight.
    1. Paragon Lost's Avatar
      Paragon Lost -
      Quote Originally Posted by 5ekyu View Post
      Well, thanks for the snack of attitude there at the end. I was just pointing out to the poster who was commenting on how they did not go for the auto-success on 20 bit that it actually was not part of this particular product - the ENW PDF on ability crits.

      If somehow you took that as a challenge to your playstyle, I suggest you take it up with the author, not me.
      It's because you posted more than once in the thread, pointing out not liking it and pointing out the RAW. It's the only reason I posted to you, you were coming off like one of those "If it's not by the rules as written sorts then it's wrong.
    1. Paragon Lost's Avatar
      Paragon Lost -
      Quote Originally Posted by epithet View Post
      You can always regard critical success/failure as beating the DC by more than 10 or failing by more than 15, or whatever floats your boat. This is a house rule, after all.
      Oh, nice. I like that idea. I'd never really thought about doing something like that. Hmm, something to think about.
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paragon Lost View Post
      It's because you posted more than once in the thread, pointing out not liking it and pointing out the RAW. It's the only reason I posted to you, you were coming off like one of those "If it's not by the rules as written sorts then it's wrong.
      Again, if you have problems with the PDF rules for that product not allowing auto-success and just limiting itself to "add-on" effects - you should take that to the author, not folks who mention it in discussions with others.

      No amount of attitude directed at me will change one pixel in that PDF (cuz its not mine) for you to make it any less offensive to your playstyle sensitivity meter.

      I do not see how my preferences would be a challenge to your playstyle either but hey... to each their own outrage.
    1. Yaarel -
      I want skill rolls to use the same math as combat rolls. So, if combat has crits and fumbles, then I want skills to have them too.
    1. 5ekyu's Avatar
      5ekyu -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yaarel View Post
      I want skill rolls to use the same math as combat rolls. So, if combat has crits and fumbles, then I want skills to have them too.
      There are three d20 combat rolls - saves, attacks and ability checks (grapple and shove) and only one of the three has crits now.

      I can see that desire but since a given attack roll is usually one of many rolls needed to overcome a combat challenge - the math is extremely different. In my games, most ability check based challenges require one roll to resolve and the rest between 3-5 but most combat require more attack rolls than that, a lot more.

      So the math isnt the same - even it it seems like it.

      But if I were to choose to standardize the d20 rolls homebrew I would go with how saves and ability checks go and remove nat 20 crits from attack rolls - making the mechanics the same.

      If having the "math be the same is the purpose, it's reasonable to remove the odd case than to make all of them odd cases - to me at least.
    1. 77IM's Avatar
      77IM -
      This article is excellent!

      The DM already decides the effects of success and failure on an ability check. So I already give "extra success" on a Nat 20 and it works great. Players love hitting that Nat 20! On a natural 1, I let the player decide whether a fumble happens, and if it does, they get Inspiration. Otherwise it feels like punishing people just for trying, which is no fun.
    1. jmucchiello's Avatar
      jmucchiello -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paragon Lost View Post
      Which is entirely your choice within the game that you run. Personally I enjoy critical hits and failures and that's how it's played at my place. No matter how many times you quote the rules.
      But do you allow Persuasion crits to turn an enemy into the party's best bud? If you enjoy that kind of thing, that's great for you. But I don't enjoy it. No persuasion roll is going to make the Ancient Red Dragon decide not to incinerate a band of thieves in their den. The dragon my toy with the thieves because of the roll. But unless they have something more to offer than an attempt at seduction, they are getting fried in the end.

      But there are tables were a single Persuasion crit turns that evil red dragon into the party's pet dragon. That's the badwrongfun I was referring to. And I don't mean it condescendingly. I mean such play unfun to ME and I would prefer not to play at that table.
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