D&D 5E Critical Hits and damage - What do you do?

beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
As a player, nothing knocked the wind out of my sails more than scoring a crit and then rolling really low damage.

So, as a DM, I give my players 2 options:
1. Roll as you normally would and take whatever the dice gods give you.
2. Accept automatic half damage.**

** So, if a player can roll a 2d8 with a sword attack after scoring a crit, automatic half damage in this example would be 8 hit points. (Excluding any other modifiers)

So, do you have any house rules for critical hit? What are they?
 

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aco175

Legend
When I dm, I have monsters add one damage die instead of doubling. So a monster that normally deals 2d6+2 now deals 3d6+2 rather than 4d6+2. It is a little thing, but criticals favor the monsters. I also give each player a hero point to use anywhere to reroll something, so a player could reroll the attack or damage in this case.

Right now, players just roll double dice like the book. People like rolling dice and having a handful makes things cool. I do like the rule of maximizing the first die and rolling the crit die, so your 2d8 damage example would be 8+1d8. I have not used it yet though. I'm not sure how I would handle a rogue sneak attack for 1d8 rapier and 5d6 sneak. I would likely just max the base weapon and double the dice for the rest.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Max normal damage and roll any other extra dice. I want crits to be dramatic.
This gets really ugly with in cases with multiple dice.

Spell attacks are the biggest in this category. Inflict Wounds does 30+3d10 damage - that's instadeath for every 1st level character. Adn will drop most characters of much higher level even from full.

Rogues, who already are going for advantage so have a higher chance of scoring a crit, about 9% per hit. A 5th level rogue would be adding 18+3d6 sneak attack to their normal weapon damage. Paladins with the ability to chose after knowing if it's a crit to add a divine smite, and what level divine smite, also see significant benefit from it. And no one is complaining that paladins and rogues are too low in damage.
 

Stalker0

Legend
level up just straight up doubles all damage on a crit, and that's what I do. I also don't have them roll twice, they roll once and double.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
This gets really ugly with in cases with multiple dice.

Spell attacks are the biggest in this category. Inflict Wounds does 30+3d10 damage - that's instadeath for every 1st level character. Adn will drop most characters of much higher level even from full.

Rogues, who already are going for advantage so have a higher chance of scoring a crit, about 9% per hit. A 5th level rogue would be adding 18+3d6 sneak attack to their normal weapon damage. Paladins with the ability to chose after knowing if it's a crit to add a divine smite, and what level divine smite, also see significant benefit from it. And no one is complaining that paladins and rogues are too low in damage.
All of this is true. I haven't encountered it being more of a problem with the rogue or the paladins in the parties I'm running than with anyone else. Different tables will of course end up with different preferences and in different places.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Increasing crits definitely favors one part over another. And that part is: Team Monster.

Critical hit damage makes combat more swingy. Increasing the expected outcome of it makes it even more swingy. If you are fighting a monster, usual expected outcome is it dies. If the hobgoblin dies a round earlier due to a crit, it's not that big of a deal.

But if a monster is fighting a PC, increased swinginess means more chance for a PC to get knocked out - reducing fun by having a player sit out for actions they wouldn't, and potentially killed, either through more chances at failing death saves, or by interacting with the instadeath rules where large individual hits are much more likely to exceed the threshold.
 


prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Increasing crits definitely favors one part over another. And that part is: Team Monster.

Critical hit damage makes combat more swingy. Increasing the expected outcome of it makes it even more swingy. If you are fighting a monster, usual expected outcome is it dies. If the hobgoblin dies a round earlier due to a crit, it's not that big of a deal.

But if a monster is fighting a PC, increased swinginess means more chance for a PC to get knocked out - reducing fun by having a player sit out for actions they wouldn't, and potentially killed, either through more chances at failing death saves, or by interacting with the instadeath rules where large individual hits are much more likely to exceed the threshold.
My experience is no doubt colored by A) the fact I introduced this well into the campaigns I'm running and B) I have really really really bad dice luck, and my monsters almost never crit. Except when my dice decide THE STARS ARE RIGHT AND ALL THE PCS MUST DIE NOW.
 

Dausuul

Legend
We are currently trying out a "crit effect" table our DM found, where crits impose random nasty status effects. (To address the obvious problem with such a table, only players get to roll on it; monsters use standard 5E crit rules.) We haven't played with it long enough for me to have a strong opinion yet.

We've also given the option of "dice plus one," where instead of rolling the dice, each die deals its maximum damage plus 1. So if you hit for 2d8+4, and you got a crit, each d8 would deal 9 damage (total 22). This yields the same average damage as the standard 5E rules, but you never have the Sad Crit where you roll double dice and they all come up 1 or 2.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
All of this is true. I haven't encountered it being more of a problem with the rogue or the paladins in the parties I'm running than with anyone else. Different tables will of course end up with different preferences and in different places.
If it's working for your table, then it's working for you table. Full stop. So is good there,

With some of the players I run for and some I play with, I would expect some would try builds optimized around this. Have you see any of this? In addition to paladin and rogue, I could see a Spell Sniper throwing doing lots of big-dice spells, hexblade with their curse to go 19-20 crit and the same plus EB barrages since each would have a chance to crit. Or even half orc Champion/Barbarian, crit fishing with reckless attack and adding extra multiple greataxe d12s to crits from half orc and barbarian features.Having an 18% chance to crit, extra attack, action surge, and a crit doing adding in 1-3 extra d12s, though that's slow to come online.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
If it's working for your table, then it's working for you table. Full stop. So is good there,

With some of the players I run for and some I play with, I would expect some would try builds optimized around this. Have you see any of this? In addition to paladin and rogue, I could see a Spell Sniper throwing doing lots of big-dice spells, hexblade with their curse to go 19-20 crit and the same plus EB barrages since each would have a chance to crit. Or even half orc Champion/Barbarian, crit fishing with reckless attack and adding extra multiple greataxe d12s to crits from half orc and barbarian features.Having an 18% chance to crit, extra attack, action surge, and a crit doing adding in 1-3 extra d12s, though that's slow to come online.
I haven't noticed more crit-fishing than there was before, but I also haven't had anyone make a character from level one with this houserule in mind, either. If my math is right, it only increases average crit damage by less than half of a normal hit--barring adding more dice such as with a half-orc--since bonuses aren't multiplied, and any extra damage dice are rolled (not maxed).
 

Stormonu

Legend
I use an old 2E/3E method - on a nat 20, roll an additional attack, which can also crit. For characters with high ACs, it makes it less likely that a lucky hit is actually going to do extra damage. Conversely, a lucky individual can (and has) end up with a string of 20's that indicates four or five hits.

I use a similar method for fumbles - on a nat 1, roll again. If you don't hit, you open yourself up to an OA. Multiple 1's are possible.

Craziest thing I ever saw was someone rolled three nat 1's in a row, and the on the OA, the attacker rolled three nat 20's, plus two additional regular hits. Surprisingly, it didn't kill the PC, but he had about three (!!!) hp left.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
When we started meeting again in person, the group decided crit = roll double the dice.

IMO, in no small part, because everyone just missed rolling physical dice and wanted to roll more of them!
 


By the book - low crits don't come up often enough to bother with a houserule.

If there was a desire for a change, I'd probably favor max normal damage.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I want crits to be dramatic.
ME TOO.

Whenever the player rolls a critical hit, I let them choose:

A) They can do double damage, per the rules,
or
B) They can deal regular damage and perform some kind of Hollywood stunt (knock their opponent prone, swap places with their opponent, disarm their opponent, kick sand in their eyes and blind their opponent until the end of their next turn, something like that. Whatever the player wants, within reason.)

Most of the time, the player chooses (A), the double damage option. But every now and then, someone will pull a stunt that really changes the tide of the battle. Like one time, our fighter scored a critical hit and decided he wanted to knock the necromancer's arcane focus out of his hand. (It was an Orb, and they were fighting on a staircase.) Game changer.
 
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Agree that a bad crit roll is disappointing, but not so bad that it’s worth messing with it. Sometimes the crit rolls are amazing.

My nephew still talks about the time…I think he was 10…his third level rogue crit and rolled something like 6 6 6 6 5 4.

No thank you to house rules where that can’t happen.
 

Agametorememberbooks

Explorer
Publisher
In our group, we max all the dice, then we roll all the dice over again and add that to the first number. This applies to heroes only.

The DM just rolls all the dice. It’s actually more dreadful for the players that way.
 

Torquar

Explorer
Increasing crits definitely favors one part over another. And that part is: Team Monster.

Critical hit damage makes combat more swingy. Increasing the expected outcome of it makes it even more swingy. If you are fighting a monster, usual expected outcome is it dies. If the hobgoblin dies a round earlier due to a crit, it's not that big of a deal.

But if a monster is fighting a PC, increased swinginess means more chance for a PC to get knocked out - reducing fun by having a player sit out for actions they wouldn't, and potentially killed, either through more chances at failing death saves, or by interacting with the instadeath rules where large individual hits are much more likely to exceed the threshold.
My favourite for this is the Bulette. 4d12+52 on a CR5? :unsure:

I just use the normal rules, double dice plus modifiers.
 

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