D&D (2024) 5.5 Nat 20/CritHit Rule in play


Jedi Master
Our session on Sunday had a few nat 20s for the warlock and rogue. A brief realization that crit damage would not be rolled for Hex or Sneak attack damage resulted in a universal agreement that we would not use the new rule.
Just curious, will you be keeping the rule to give inspiration on the Nat20?

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Jedi Master
Nope. we didn't even remember it, to be honest.
Yeah, I'd given out Inspiration maybe a dozen times in the last 3 years of play until this change. Now when I see a Nat20 I give a little detail flourish about whatever they just natted and tell them they've been Inspired (or ask them who saw their moment and get's inspired by it if they already had inspiration). Makes for a great play moment (especially since it comes up on all Nat20s, not just attacks). The Paladin and Rogue (RIP), were using their inspirations almost as quickly as they got them.


Last night was my group's first Spelljammer AP adventure, and I decided to ask if they'd be interested in trying out the new Nat20/Crit rules. 3 of the 4 players hadn't heard about the playtest, but after a brief discussion about it and ensuring them that we could go back to the 2014 rules after the first session, everyone agreed that it would be fun to try it out. One player (Warforged Paladin) was highly skeptical of the new rule (as was I when I first read about it) but was happy to try it out so she could give informed feedback on the survey. I thought the Rogue would also balk, but he was super into trying it out right from first mention. The other 2 party members, Fighter and Ranger, initially thought the rule sounded way better.

Nat 20 Results - 3 for PCs, 3 for monsters. Rogue had a sneak attack nat 20 lose it's crit damage, but also benefited from a Nat20 against him not getting critical damage. He then used his inspiration the very next turn after using his move and bonus to get close enough to a fleeing bad guy to attack (thus getting sneak attack) and took out the monster due to that. The Paladin also had a monster Nat20 and was thrilled to point out that my monster wouldn't get crit damage :) The fighter and ranger were the other two Nat20s, both on weapon attack rolls, so both got their normal Crit damage.

Session wrap up - I'd already guessed given the reaction at the table to the various Nat20s thru the session, but the group enthusiastically decided to keep the rule for the remainder of the Spelljammer campaign, and are interested in incorporating other rule changes throughout when it makes sense to do so. The three players who just learned about the playtest are all also going to download the materials and participate in the survey.

For me, my last bit of doubt about the new rules disappeared after seeing them in play, and my initial thought that the Rogue specifically, and some other classes would need some new features to make up for the loss of Crit damage is now gone. The rule works perfectly fine on it's own. For example, the Paladin had initially planned on only using Smites when she Crit, but with the new rules used 2 smites at other moments, both of them the bonus action before attacking variety.

Would love to hear about other tables tales from this rule!
Interesting. I've been against the change but I am hopeful. I wonder how other classes found the rule. How did the monsters not criting affect the encounter difficulty? Were any recharge abilities used?


Jedi Master
Playtest #4 - Chapter 4 of Spelljammer

Had a 5 hour session last night with only 4 Nat20s rolled (3 from PCs, 1 from monsters). Interesting to remember how streaky Crits can be in an individual game session.

Only 1 PC crit lost any potential damage (Paladin, who had used Thunderous smite and lost 4 damage on a low D20 roll) All three inspirations gained in session were used when the session started with 2 PCs losing previous inspiration due to a long rest. Players are now determined to use inspiration almost as soon as they have it.

@shadowoflameth Decided to test out my home-brew tweak to the Crit rule so that monsters who crit immediately recharge a spent ability on a crit. It was a pretty beefy ability from a Thri-Kreen Mystic that got recharged (it's first use did 31 points of damage against a PC, the crit only 'lost' 5 damage). PCs freaked out when the monster recharged and went all in focus fire on it to prevent it from using that ability again. In this case, the monster's recharge was only supposed to happen on a short rest, so without the crit it would have had no chance at getting the ability back. I'm going to have to think about this rule tweak and whether it should only effect rolled recharges, and perhaps only allow an immediate extra recharge roll.

One other side note, the Rogue who was killed in session 3 was brought back to life in this session (PCs went to a temple on Bral and dished out 2k GP) and the players Wizard character who finished out the previous session decided adventuring life wasn't for him and decided to stay behind on the Rock to explore the Mage Guild hall. The wizard had been the subject of the Thri-Kreen recharge ability on the way to the temple and the player nearly lost their 2nd PC in 2 sessions and likely would have if the monster had gotten to use it's ability a 2nd time (but that would have been up to the dice).

Once the PCs got the Rogue back, they long rested again (no inspiration lost this time!) and then faced 2 deadly combats with a short rest in-between. PCs are totally spent at this point (2 encounter adventuring day!) and while they don't know it yet, I'm sure will be excited to get a short rest at the start of the next session). I mention this only because the new style monsters (from MotM and beyond) seem to fit much better into the definition of what a Deadly encounter per the adventuring day guidelines are. I really, really can't wait for the original MM monsters to be re-done in this style.

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