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


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Obligatory funny critical hit story: Back in AD&D 2nd we rotated DMs to a new campaign and the new DM had a critical hit chart he wanted. We were all like "sure, let's go for it".

So we create dudes and our first session was basically us getting shanghai'd (sp?) by a pirate with an airship (FR, well pre-Eberron). He was going to do a whole work-up-the-ranks-as-a-pirate thing. Okay, no problem. One of the characters challenged him to one on one combat. Now, we're 1st level and this guy is like 10th (which is a huuuge gap in AD&D 2nd). The captain figures it's the quickest way to get the new recruits in line is to show them he's boss so he agrees. First round of combat my friend's PC get a critical hit. So we roll on the chart. And I think it was a "really good, go roll on this other chart". Long story medium, we cut off the pirate king's leg. And then proceeded to kill him.

Sooo, DM is like "cool!". The crew assumes the guy who beat the campaitn is a badd-ass and obeys him. We find ourselves decked out in magic items way past our level that were coveted by many, with an airship that every country would love to have for trade or military reasons, with a crew that is unsure about us and we have to keep convincing through deeps that we are the meanest and toughest beings to walk the seven ..., well clouds.

Completely not the campaign the DM had planned, but what a great start. All flipped because of a single crit in the first attack roll of the campaign.

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Lord of the Hidden Layer
We do this: Add the max that your dice could roll, plus static mods, plus roll the dice.

Someday somebody at our table will create a Paladin/Rogue, set up the Sneak Attack conditions, roll a crit, and add a Smite -
and one powerful monster will die instantly.


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
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?
Max the normal dice, roll the extra dice.

Doesn’t change the floor or ceiling, but ensures at worst a pretty good roll.


We do it by the book.

But I did like the 4e approach, where a crit was automatically max damage - nice and simple, but also avoiding that "low damage letdown".
Something I pushed for in the playtest was to have a crit be maximum damage, followed by another attack roll (similar to 3E's confirmation roll). If the next roll hit, you added rolled damage to the maximum damage. If the next roll was a crit (1/400 chance), you did max damage twice.

An (infinitely-capable) d4 deals less average damage than a d6. 🤷‍♂️
yes. But it "crits" 25% of the time. Whereas a d10 only crits 10% of the time. It's about appearances and the feeling, not the actual numbers. Criting even 10% of the time is way too often for me. Its not special.

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