D&D 5E Assassin attacks poison critical hits (et simila)

Alby87

Explorer
Hi Everyone.

Quick skimming "The Monsters Know What They Are Doing" book, I noticed a foot note on the Assassin: when it crits, it's dagger attacks dice are doubled, so the sneak attack, but not the poison damage because is resisted by a saving throw and not dealt by the dagger. I was quiete shoked: for me, all the damage dealt dice value in an attack should have been doubled when a crit occurred, and then modified by fixed or saving throw modifiers.

I'm asking: how one should have understood this from the rules as written? Quoting:
"When you score a critical hit, you get to roll extra dice for the attack's damage against the target. Roll all of the attack's damage dice twice and add them together. Then add any relevant modifiers as normal." (Emphasis mine)

And this is one of the attacks of the Assasin

"Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage, and the target must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw, taking 24 (7d6) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one." (Emphasis still mine)

It says "1d6 and [condition] 7d6 or half", not "1d6 then 7d6 or half" so those dice seems to be all related to the attack, not two different stages one after another. I fear I'm not understaning (I'm also not a natural english speaker, sorry if it is obvious to one).

Also: and if it was a magical flaming longsword, like (for example) [1d8 slashing + 1d6 fire damage], should crit, it's always [2d8 slashing + 1d6 fire damage]?

Thanks for your help!
 

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Lyxen

Great Old One
For me, the interpretation from "The Monsters Know What They Are Doing" is the proper one. The poison damage is gated behind a save, so the damage is not the one from the attack itself.

Compare for example to the Erinyes who uses poison without a save, it's quite different (notice the difference between "...plus..." and "...and the target must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw..." meaning that the poison is its own effect):
Hellish Weapons. The erinyes's weapon attacks are magical and deal an extra 13 (3d8
custom20.png
) poison damage on a hit (included in the attacks).
Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +8
custom20.png
to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4
custom20.png
) slashing damage, or 9 (1d10 + 4
custom20.png
) slashing damage if used with two hands, plus 13 (3d8
custom20.png
) poison damage.

And of course the same for your fire longsword, it's part of the attack's dices of damage.

After that, as with many things in 5e, it's not that precise and is subject to a DM's interpretation, but as mentioned I'm in line with the one that you presented and I think that it's a common way to look at things.
 

For me, the interpretation from "The Monsters Know What They Are Doing" is the proper one. The poison damage is gated behind a save, so the damage is not the one from the attack itself.

Yep. As it's gated behind a save, it's a rider effect, and not doubled like other weapon damage dice.

Some Battlemaster manouvers (which also have saves) do double though due to the wording (add dice to attacks damage, then make a save or suffer the rider).
 


My understanding is, if a critical is scored, all dice get doubled for the damage of the attack: sneak attack, smite, poison, elemental, or whatever.

Given the "simple" nature of 5E, that would be my ruling.

Yeah, this would be my ruling, too.

There is nothing in the crit rules that say "save riders" don't get doubled - but there is language regarding what to do if there are other damage dice involved with said attack.

"When you score a critical hit, you get to roll extra dice for the attack's damage against the target. Roll all of the attack's damage dice twice and add them together. Then add any relevant modifiers as normal. To speed up play, you can roll all the damage dice at once.

For example, if you score a critical hit with a dagger, roll 2d4 for the damage, rather than 1d4, and then add your relevant ability modifier. If the attack involves other damage dice, such as from the rogue's Sneak Attack feature, you roll those dice twice as well."
 

toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
Sage Advice 2014: "The intent is no. The saving throw, not the attack, determines whether the poison takes effect after a hit."

Same in 2015. "Any damage dice delivered by a critical hit—as opposed to a saving throw—are rolled twice."

This is all consistent with the RAW on critical hits because they are contingent on an "attack." As already noted, saving throws are a different game mechanic entirely when it comes to how they interact with critical hits.

Finally, the game is what you want it to be. If you want crits to be a much deadlier part of your game, you could simply house rule tag-along save effects double their damage dice as well. However, when your D&D assassin 1-shots a PC with around 88 damage in one hit, it'd be best to have an explanation why this was a good thing...
 

Alby87

Explorer
Thank you guys! So the hit formula is just: 2 x "Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage, and the target must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw": then
  • The effect of the crit starts:
  • The players remove the 2d6 hit points
  • The Constitution save roll is made, checking only if passed or not.
  • The effect of the crit ends
  • Costitution save effects are applied (7d6 or half).

I'm more than happy that I can't deal 14d6 of damage, but I was more concerned of me not understanding the game terms. You know, that realization "I've be doing this all wrong for two years (yes, still new DM)". So, if some effect can be changed by a roll different from the attack roll, that's NOT doubled.

The only bad thing now, for me, that's not really explained well in the rules, nor in the Sage Advice official PDF and also Roll20 doesn't help: if you try to use their Assasin Token and make attacks, when he crits it also doubles the poison damage.

Oh well, still a fun ride! Thank you all :) Very precious!
 

Thank you guys! So the hit formula is just: 2 x "Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage, and the target must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw": then
  • The effect of the crit starts:
  • The players remove the 2d6 hit points
  • The Constitution save roll is made, checking only if passed or not.
  • The effect of the crit ends
  • Costitution save effects are applied (7d6 or half).

I'm more than happy that I can't deal 14d6 of damage, but I was more concerned of me not understanding the game terms. You know, that realization "I've be doing this all wrong for two years (yes, still new DM)". So, if some effect can be changed by a roll different from the attack roll, that's NOT doubled.

The only bad thing now, for me, that's not really explained well in the rules, nor in the Sage Advice official PDF and also Roll20 doesn't help: if you try to use their Assasin Token and make attacks, when he crits it also doubles the poison damage.

Oh well, still a fun ride! Thank you all :) Very precious!

On a crit, the assassin doubles weapon damage dice (1d6) and sneak attack dice (4d6) if applicable.

Then you resolve the poison, with its damage not doubled.
 

Alby87

Explorer
On a crit, the assassin doubles weapon damage dice (1d6) and sneak attack dice (4d6) if applicable.

Then you resolve the poison, with its damage not doubled.
Yes, I did forget to write the sneak attact but really didn't: the sneak attack is so written in full PHB Critical Hit rule that there should be no doubt at all. Thank you the same for pointing out, much appreciated :)
 

Yes, I did forget to write the sneak attact but really didn't: the sneak attack is so written in full PHB Critical Hit rule that there should be no doubt at all. Thank you the same for pointing out, much appreciated :)

A Crit/ sneak attack from the assassin deals 10d6+3 piercing damage, and then the target must attempt a DC 15 Constitution saving throw, taking 7d6 poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Potentially very nasty damage for a CR 8.
 


So much for my Grave Cleric 2 / Assassin 17 with Purple Worm Poison doing 1,000+ damage in one hit.
So much for my Grave Cleric 2 / Assassin 17 with Purple Worm Poison doing 1,000+ damage in one hit.

Half Orc, Gloomstalker Ranger 5, Assassin 3, Battlemaster Fighter 3 (superior technique), Paladin 2, Favored soul Sorcerer 7 (GWM).

Before the battle, he's used SP to create a total of 7 x 4th level slots, and has a spare 2 points for a Quickened GFB. He's currently concentrating on Holy weapon (that he keeps concealed to hide its glow).

On a surprise attack (from hiding) against a fiend or undead he makes 7 attacks (action surge, dread ambusher, quickened GFB) all of them crits, smiting on each one, and spamming his 5 superiority dice, with GWM 'on'.

1 - 3d12+2d8+2d8+4d8+12d8+15
2 - 3d12+2d8+4d8+12d8+15
3 - 3d12+2d8+4d8+12d8+15
4 - 3d12+2d8+2d8+4d8+12d8+15
5 - 3d12+2d8+4d8+12d8+15
6 - 3d12+4d8+12d8+15
7 - 3d12+4d8+6d8+12d8+15

Thats 1000+ damage on average.
 

Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
1 - 3d12+2d8+2d8+4d8+12d8+15
2 - 3d12+2d8+4d8+12d8+15
3 - 3d12+2d8+4d8+12d8+15
4 - 3d12+2d8+2d8+4d8+12d8+15
5 - 3d12+2d8+4d8+12d8+15
6 - 3d12+4d8+12d8+15
7 - 3d12+4d8+6d8+12d8+15

Thats 1000+ damage on average.
You will probably hit 1000+ frequently, but the average of the above is 835.5.
 


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