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D&D 5E Difference between critical hits and automatic hits.

SkidAce

Legend
I think you've zeroed in on why I'm so stuck on the opposite side of the argument. To me, it's absurd that an attack could "score a critical hit" and also not hit - precisely because the word "hit" is used as it is. If the authors intended for a 19 not to constitute a hit, it could have been phrased to reflect that: "If you roll a 19 on a weapon attack and hit, your attack is a critical hit," or "roll damage as if you had scored a critical hit."

Another issue is that Improved Critical's language includes both to 19s and 20s. While this is largely a RAW discussion, it's worth dipping into RAI a bit here: if the authors intended for one rule (critical maybe-hit) to apply to 19s, while the normal rule (critical always-hit) applies to 20s, why would this class feature be phrased as though the same rule applies to both? It seems that by including "or 20," the text is communicating that the purpose of the class feature is for 19s and 20s to function identically for the Champion.

Both sides make so much sense...

/head explode
 

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Joe Liker

First Post
I can't believe there are people in the world who think "you score a (critical) hit" doesn't mean you score a hit. It's mind-boggling.

If it said you "score a resounding hit," would you be making the same argument? That a "resounding hit" is somehow a different rules object than a hit?

"Critical" and "automatic" are adjectives. As such, they only serve to modify the important word, the object of the clause, which is "hit." If the rules say you "score a hit" of any kind -- be it automatic, critical, plaid, or strawberry -- then you have scored a hit. Period.

Some hits are better than others, true, but a hit is a hit is a hit.

Adding an adjective to a noun does not create a new class of rules objects that need all-new definitions. Not in this game, anyway. The word being modified is still the basis of any concept that springs from the modified meaning.

If you disagree with the preceding paragraph, I invite you to find another case in the rules where a modified noun is no longer a subclass of the noun itself.

In more general terms, if you really do think this language is vague or ambiguous, I have a feeling you're going to be constantly dissatisfied with every aspect of 5e. Common sense is the name of the game here, not hair-splitting and rules-lawyering. Things are never going to be spelled out the way they were in 3e and 4e. The basic rules of the English language hold far more sway than granular interpretations and the constant hunt for corner cases.
 
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jadrax

Adventurer
From twitter.

@dr_hobo_jones : for the champions expanded crit range, are 18-19 automatically a hit? Or are they only crit if attack hits?
@mikemearls : believe you get the auto hit and double damage
@dr_hobo_jones : sweet
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
I can't believe there are people in the world who think "you score a (critical) hit" doesn't mean you score a hit. It's mind-boggling.

If it said you "score a resounding hit," would you be making the same argument? That a "resounding hit" is somehow a different rules object than a hit?

"Critical" and "automatic" are adjectives. As such, they only serve to modify the important word, the object of the clause, which is "hit." If the rules say you "score a hit" of any kind -- be it automatic, critical, plaid, or strawberry -- then you have scored a hit. Period.

Some hits are better than others, true, but a hit is a hit is a hit.

Adding an adjective to a noun does not create a new class of rules objects that need all-new definitions. Not in this game, anyway.

In more general terms, if you really do think this language is vague or ambiguous, I have a feeling you're going to be constantly dissatisfied with every aspect of 5e. Common sense is the name of the game here, not hair-splitting and rules-lawyering. Things are never going to be spelled out the way they were in 3e and 4e. The basic rules of the English language hold far more sway than granular interpretations and the constant hunt for corner cases.
Please be more careful about how you go about your arguing. As has been demonstrated in this thread, many intelligent people have come down on both sides of this (extremely minor) issue. I believe that the rules can be interpreted two different ways depending on where you start. While the Champions text says you score a critical hit, a critical hit is defined in the rules as double damage. For some reason, they went out of their way to define a 20 as automatically hitting and then said it is additionally a critical hit. Meanwhile, both the Champion text and the Critical Hit text use the phrase "score a critical hit". It can reasonably be read both ways, and it very easily could have been changed slightly to leave no ambiguity anywhere in the text while still using natural language. I came here to ask the community for their reasoned opinion more for interest than worrying about something I might not see for years.

I have been hugely satisfied (happy, ecstatic) with 5e. My players think I have an even hand running the table and make common sense rulings. I have a firm grasp of the English language. I started this thread admitting that this was an extreme corner case. Please do not insinuate that I or anyone else who has commented in a manner contrary to your opinion are unhappy with 5e, lack common sense, are focused on rules-lawyering or misunderstand basic rules of the English language.

Even if you are right in an argument, you can be wrong based on how you deliver it.

Sorry for blasting you on this. I doubt you meant what you wrote as an insult. I already PMed somebody else about their arguments starting to move from being about the subject at hand to about the person on the other side of the argument. Your post was the second that I have seen moving in that direction. One of the things I have appreciated about these boards (the D&D section; I don't really go elsewhere) is the lack of fighting and flame wars (at least since I have been on the boards). I have looked on on several other boards where people act poorly, and I appreciate that it does not seem to take hold here.

I think as much as possible has been said about 3 paragraphs in the PHB. It may be time to let this post slide off of the first page. I had no idea my question would spawn this much discussion.
 

jadrax

Adventurer
I think as much as possible has been said about 3 paragraphs in the PHB. It may be time to let this post slide off of the first page. I had no idea my question would spawn this much discussion.

Personally I think its been a really interesting thread. Its also been beneficial to me as I am now pretty sure I have been getting the rules wrong.
 

keterys

First Post
I can't believe there are people in the world who think "you score a (critical) hit" doesn't mean you score a hit. It's mind-boggling.
To be fair, only because that's been true for several editions of D&D and near D&D. Ie, 3rd edition, 4th edition, Pathfinder, 13th Age, etc.

20s are an automatic hit is enshrined in holiness, but if you miss on a 19, a surprising number of people don't think that should crit.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
To be fair, only because that's been true for several editions of D&D and near D&D. Ie, 3rd edition, 4th edition, Pathfinder, 13th Age, etc.

20s are an automatic hit is enshrined in holiness, but if you miss on a 19, a surprising number of people don't think that should crit.
DM adjudication is a little like the Wesleyan Quadrilateral

Scripture - Whatever rulebooks the DM and players have agreed to use; main difference here is the rulebooks change editions periodically
Tradition - How things worked in the past
Reason - Sound judgement
Experience - What has worked before

All those things input into the decision that is made.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
If you disagree with the preceding paragraph, I invite you to find another case in the rules where a modified noun is no longer a subclass of the noun itself.

Death Saving Throws. They in no way use the rules for saving throws.
Armor Proficiency. They in no way use the rules for proficiencies and adding your proficiency bonus.

And as far as why they use the word 'hit' in 'critical hit' if they didn't mean 'hit'... it's because it's the same term that's been used for decades, even before the authors and designers starting caring about the words they selected to describe the rules they were writing. Why did the designers stick with the term 'hit points' when you could do damage without actually hitting (via the DoaM rules in 4E?) Because 'hit points' were a traditional term / sacred cow so there was no need to change. Same thing with 'critical hit'.

I have nothing against folks who wish to rule it the other way. More power to them. But for me... when the tradition is only a 1 is an auto-miss and a 20 is an auto-hit, and the 5E book's section heading even specifically says 'Rolling 1 or 20' (and not 'Rolling 1 or a Critical Hit')... I take it for what it says as backed up by tradition. After all... if they had meant it that way, they could have just as easily written that entire section like this:

ROLLING 1 OR A CRITICAL HIT
Sometimes fate blesses or curses a combatant, causing the novice to hit and the veteran to miss. If the d20 roll for an attack is a critical hit, the attack hits regardless of any modifiers or the target's AC.


And then said in the Critical Hit section that for most characters a roll of a 20 is a critical hit, although some characters have a wider range of numbers.

So yeah... it's a 'rulings not rules' situation... but is not one where there will be a predominate consensus for a long time I don't expect.
 

Joe Liker

First Post
Death Saving Throws. They in no way use the rules for saving throws.
When you make a saving throw, you roll a d20 and succeed if you roll a target number or higher; in this case, the target number is 10.

Armor Proficiency
. They in no way use the rules for proficiencies and adding your proficiency bonus.
"Proficiency" is not the game concept that causes you to add the extra value to the roll. It's "proficiency bonus." Just as in the other argument, the word "proficiency" modifies the word "bonus." You get the bonus because you are proficient, or good at, a thing.

If the feat were called "Armor proficiency bonus," you'd have a case. But all "proficiency" means is that you have training or skill in a thing. In the case of Armor Proficiency, you are good at using armor. In the case of a Proficiency Bonus, you get the bonus because you are good at using a certain skill or weapon or tool or ability score.
 
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Joe Liker

First Post
To be fair, only because that's been true for several editions of D&D and near D&D. Ie, 3rd edition, 4th edition, Pathfinder, 13th Age, etc.

20s are an automatic hit is enshrined in holiness, but if you miss on a 19, a surprising number of people don't think that should crit.
I agree, this is definitely where the so-called "confusion" comes from.

However, I feel confident that in each and every one of those sources, you'll find that the wording of criticals that are not necessarily hits is very precise. I strongly doubt any of them call it a "critical hit" if it may not actually be a hit.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
When you make a saving throw, you roll a d20 and succeed if you roll a target number or higher; in this case, the target number is 10.

Or, when you make a saving throw, you roll a d20 and add an ability modifier for the type of save you are expected to make, against a target number set by the person who was attacking you. Which is how every other saving throw is defined in the game. And in which case Death Saving Throw doesn't match.

We can split hairs as fine as you'd like so that both of us could claim we were right. Which is exactly my point on the word 'hit' too. There's no absolutes in either case. It all comes down to Rulings, rather than Rules and no "obvious" answers. ;-)
 

keterys

First Post
The wordings vary a bit, unsurprisingly.

Occasionally an attack is a bull’s-eye: It hits so well that a target takes more damage than normal. Such a lucky result is called a critical hit (sometimes shortened to “crit”).


Natural 20: When an attack roll against a target gets a natural 20, the power not only automatically hits the target, but also scores a critical hit if the attack roll result is high enough to hit the target’s defense. If the result is too low to hit the defense, the power still hits the target automatically, but without scoring a critical hit.

...
If the total is equal to or higher than the defense, you hit.
Every attack roll that is natural 20 is a crit ('critical hit') for double damage.
Crit range is what you must roll to score a crit. The standard crit range is a natural 20. Some powers and spells expand your crit range. Each point of improvement drops the number needed to score a critical hit by 1.

Etc.
 

eryndel

Explorer
Personally I think its been a really interesting thread. Its also been beneficial to me as I am now pretty sure I have been getting the rules wrong.

Agreed, I've been hesitant to step back into the conversation so as not to seem like I was arguing my specific interpretation. My opinion hasn't really changed, but there's a lot of good cases on either side.

And one of the nice things I've found about D&D 5e so far is the ease with which a call can be made, and it not being too disruptive to the flow of the game... I'm pretty certain that if your group is having fun, you haven't been getting the rules wrong.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Huh. After reading this thread, I'm changing my position. I now believe that the champion both auto-hits and auto-crits on a 19 (or 18) to 20, when high enough level.
Same here. I came in with the position that a Champion can miss on a 19, but as others have said, when you take off your previous-edition glasses, the Champion ability is quite explicit. You score a critical hit on 19. Not "can score," but "score."

As for the idea that an attack can simultaneously miss and critically hit, come on. In an edition built around natural language, this is absurd.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think there ought to be one more (would that make it a Quintrilateral?):
DM adjudication is a little like the Wesleyan Quadrilateral

Scripture - Whatever rulebooks the DM and players have agreed to use; main difference here is the rulebooks change editions periodically
Tradition - How things worked in the past
Reason - Sound judgement
Experience - What has worked before
Fun - Which option is more entertaining/memorable/amusing/swashbuckling/ridiculous/whatever other term fits here.

Lan-"welcome to the gonzo side of the table"-efan
 

Joe Liker

First Post
Or, when you make a saving throw, you roll a d20 and add an ability modifier for the type of save you are expected to make, against a target number set by the person who was attacking you. Which is how every other saving throw is defined in the game. And in which case Death Saving Throw doesn't match.

We can split hairs as fine as you'd like so that both of us could claim we were right. Which is exactly my point on the word 'hit' too. There's no absolutes in either case. It all comes down to Rulings, rather than Rules and no "obvious" answers. ;-)
In the definition of Death Saving Throw, the book literally calls it "a special saving throw."

These are not petty distinctions. This is the way the English language works, and you are denying that in an attempt to make a spurious case.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
In the definition of Death Saving Throw, the book literally calls it "a special saving throw."

These are not petty distinctions. This is the way the English language works, and you are abusing it in an attempt to make a spurious case.

Either that... or perhaps English isn't as foolproof a language as you think it is. ;)
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Huh. After reading this thread, I'm changing my position. I now believe that the champion both auto-hits and auto-crits on a 19 (or 18) to 20, when high enough level.
Agreed. And seriously, which one is more fun? Do you enjoy telling your Champion Fighter that their 19 doesn't actually crit, or even do damage? It's not like Champions exactly have a ton of things going for them.
 

Ningauble

First Post
I favor the interpretation that this equals the old improved crit from 3rd Ed. I mean should a third level champion fighting Orcus have a 10% chance on all his attacks to auto crit? No, you should still have to hit or roll a 20.

I'm trying to like 5th ed. but this lack of clarity on some of the most basic rules is starting to irk me. I don't remember this vagueness in 3rd edition.
 


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