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

Tormyr

Adventurer
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.
It may be that critting 10% to 15% of the time is part of the "balanced in its unbalancedness" of the 5e classes. The champion might need that to contribute equally with his companions. As for critting Orcus: he's a champion! While others are spending their time focusing on flashy magic or hugging trees, he focuses on being the toughest SOB who can hit in the most devastating places. For Orcus, it just means his mosquito bites are a little bigger.
 

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Dausuul

Legend
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 am perfectly fine with that fighter having a 10% chance to auto hit and crit. His player can tell the story of how he landed a hit on Orcus with a 3rd-level character (after which Orcus blinked in his direction and he exploded).
 

Imaro

Legend
I'm going to have to go with the interpretation that the critical hit is an auto-hit. There's no confirming a critical in 5e.
 

SigmaOne

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.

A third level fighter critical hitting Orcus is going to do maybe 2d12 or 4d6 (+ modifiers, of course). Maybe to your Orcus that's a big deal. To my Orcus, it's only slightly annoying... like when a mosquito bites in a particularly sensitive spot. If it's realistic to have a 5% chance to hit, it can't be terribly unrealistic to have a 10% chance. Auto-hitting on a 19 doesn't really break verisimilitude at all; not any more than other rules.
But, hey, we all get to play the game we want to play at our tables. So, I don't mean to imply there is anything "wrong" about the way you think it should be, just that we all have different ideas about "how things should be".

My 2pennies: I haven't seen anything in this thread to imply that "when you roll a 19, you score a critical hit" (under Improved Critical) and "when you score a critical hit, you roll your damage dice twice" (under Critical Hits) implies you need to check that you matched or beat the AC before you roll damage. The language is quite clear to me, as others have eloquently argued in this thread. I think the only mistake the developers made was to underestimate how much tradition and inertia from previous editions would lead people to read the rules they expected to read, as opposed to the rules that were written.
 

Mort

Legend
!

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.

That's not quite fair though. "Critical hit" is a term of art, it has a distinct meaning within the context of this edition (and prior editions). A meaning "random adjective" hit does not have.

This is why people are confused! The rules are using a term of art, a term people have come to know and understand, in an unexpected way. This is doubly confusing for people who come in with prior editions baggage on what a critical hit is or should mean!

That said, I do think the wording seems clear. The Champion crits on a 19-20 (later 18-20), not can, not might, not "roll to confirm" but crits.

As this has been further reinforced as the intent of the designers - I'm comfortable ruling that way in my game at least.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I will wait the day that this situation actually comes up in game. Looking at the attack and AC numbers on monsters right now, I just don't see a circumstance where a fighter rolls an 18 but doesn't hit the creature.
 

Ningauble

First Post
I will wait the day that this situation actually comes up in game. Looking at the attack and AC numbers on monsters right now, I just don't see a circumstance where a fighter rolls an 18 but doesn't hit the creature.

You're probably right. I just looked at some monsters and it may be a non issue. It looks like Armor Class of monsters is a lot lower in 5th edition. My point about the 3rd level PC vs. Orcus or some other godlike entity was simply that a 3rd level character should not even be able to hit him. But maybe I'm wrong to think this in 5th edition. The ancient red dragon only has AC 22, so even a 3rd level PC would hit that with a 19.
 

fanboy2000

First Post
My point about the 3rd level PC vs. Orcus or some other godlike entity was simply that a 3rd level character should not even be able to hit him.
If it helps, the 3rd level PC is only going to hit Orcus once, (well, maybe twice with Action Surge...) then Orcus gets a turn and it's all over the Peter Champion.

Bounded accuracy means that you have a shot at hitting, it doesn't guarantee that the amount of damage a PC does is significant to the monster or NPC.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
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.

I'm curious why auto-hitting 5% of the time seems totally fine, yet auto-hitting 10% of the time is so hard to believe?
 

Warbringer

Explorer
It's an autohit and critical.

The language is: " the weapon attack is a critical hit", not the "hit is a critical".

Parsed, the rule is "the attack is a hit and that hit is a critical"
 

Dragonblade

Adventurer
It's an autohit and critical.

The language is: " the weapon attack is a critical hit", not the "hit is a critical".

Parsed, the rule is "the attack is a hit and that hit is a critical"

Yes. Even Mearls confirms it:

"for the champions expanded crit range, are 18-19 automatically a hit? Or are they only crit if attack hits?" believe you get the auto hit and double damage. -M

From ENWorld's front page and Mearl's twitter account.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
It's an autohit and critical.

The language is: " the weapon attack is a critical hit", not the "hit is a critical".

Parsed, the rule is "the attack is a hit and that hit is a critical"

Or then there's the other way to look at it...

The actual rule on automatic hits has the subject header 'Rolling 1 or 20':

Sometimes fate blesses or curses a combatant, causing the novice to hit and the veteran to miss.

If the d20 roll for an attack in a 20, the attack hits regardless of any modifiers, or the target's AC. In addition, the attack is a critical hit, as explained later in this chapter.

If the d20 roll for an attack is a 1, the attack misses regardless of any modifiers or the target's AC.


Then, the rule in the subject header 'Critical Hits' is as follows:

When you score a critical hit, you get to roll extra dice for the attack's damage against the target.

Thus.. you can easily also parse it as that only 1s and 20s cause automatic misses and hits... since that is precisely the language they used to describe automatic misses and hits. A 1 is an auto-miss, a 20 is an auto-hit. The use of the term 'critical hit' occurs after the language describing the auto-hit, and doesn't modify the rule, it's in addition to it (since it states "In addition...") Thus, it is completely rational to believe that auto-hits and critical hits are in fact two separate states... and it just so happens that a 20 counts as both. But does not absolutely guarantee that other rolls that qualify under the term of "critical hit" also fall under the term "auto-hit"... since it specifically calls out the 20 in the subject header and the first line of the rule as the only number that auto-hits, and that "critical hits" are specifically called out in their own section as extra damage (and speaks nothing about actually hitting targets)

If all "critical hits" were absolutely 100% meant to be parsed as "auto-hits"... why doesn't the book write the header as "Rolling 1 or a Critical Hit", and start by saying that some hits are so powerful that they automatically are considered to hit and do extra damage, regardless of any modifiers or the target's AC? And then state that most characters do a critical hit when they roll an unmodified 20 on a die roll, but that some characters might have a larger critical range? And then they could describe the rules for the extra damage.

But they didn't do that. They started by calling out the '20' specifically as an "auto-hit" and then tacked on the addendum that this 20 was also a "critical hit" (which they later define only as extra damage dice".) Now yes... I know that they use the word "hit" within the term "critical hit". And if this was the very first edition of the game they ever wrote, maybe you'd have a point. But the phrase "critical hit" has existed in the game for decades, and as someone stated up above, that specific term has become a "term of art" in the game, and no longer meant to be taken as 'noun + adjective'. After all... the game uses the term "Armor Class"... but I don't see anyone stating that obviously Armor is describing a type of Class within the game, to go along with the Fighter, Rogue or Cleric. Nope... "Armor Class" has become its own specific term of art... just like "Critical Hit" has.

That being said... do I genuinely care one way or the other which way anyone rules it? Nope, not in the slightest. If Mike thinks that all critical hits are auto-hits... good for him. Any if anyone else feels the same way, hey, it's no skin off my nose, go nuts! But with all the talk of making sure we "parse the language"... I thought it was important to note that we weren't just pulling this opinion out of our asses... we were "parsing the language" too and just happen to come up with a different result.
 


tragicjones

First Post
But they didn't do that. They started by calling out the '20' specifically as an "auto-hit" and then tacked on the addendum that this 20 was also a "critical hit" (which they later define only as extra damage dice".) Now yes... I know that they use the word "hit" within the term "critical hit". And if this was the very first edition of the game they ever wrote, maybe you'd have a point. But the phrase "critical hit" has existed in the game for decades, and as someone stated up above, that specific term has become a "term of art" in the game, and no longer meant to be taken as 'noun + adjective'. After all... the game uses the term "Armor Class"... but I don't see anyone stating that obviously Armor is describing a type of Class within the game, to go along with the Fighter, Rogue or Cleric. Nope... "Armor Class" has become its own specific term of art... just like "Critical Hit" has.

While I'm hesitant about the argument from tradition, it's very interesting. My only other experience is 4E and PF, so I'm wondering: in any edition of D&D, has it been possible for an attack to "score a critical hit" and also not hit?
 



DEFCON 1

Legend
While I'm hesitant about the argument from tradition, it's very interesting. My only other experience is 4E and PF, so I'm wondering: in any edition of D&D, has it been possible for an attack to "score a critical hit" and also not hit?

3rd edition specifically says that even if you have an expanded crit range larger just the '20', only the '20' is an automatic hit. Other numbers in the expanded range have to actually still hit the target's AC to qualify for the possibility of being a "critical hit".

Now granted, in 3rd edition... rolling a 20 or a number within an extended crit range does not in itself generate a "critical hit"... you merely threaten a critical hit. If you made that first roll, you then had to roll a second time and if the second roll would have also qualified as hitting the target's AC, then the threat was confirmed, and it became a true "critical hit".

I believe others have stated earlier in the thread that because a 20 was not considered a "critical hit" straight away in 3rd edition, but merely a threat of a critical hit... that is the reason why we didn't have the idea that auto-hit = critical hit. But since in 5E a roll of 20 is called out as an auto-hit and in addition a critical hit, that is why some folks have determined this to mean that in every case auto-hit = critical hit.

A valid way to look at it... but not definitively the only way to look at it, in my opinion.
 

Andor

First Post
While I'm hesitant about the argument from tradition, it's very interesting. My only other experience is 4E and PF, so I'm wondering: in any edition of D&D, has it been possible for an attack to "score a critical hit" and also not hit?

No. But! In 3e weapons had something called a threat range. Usually a 20, but up to 18-20, and this threat range could be modified by feats and maybe class features. So, when you rolled in the threat range you had "threatened a critical." If the original to-hit roll was a successful hit, you then had to roll to hit again to confirm the critical. If you did confirm it your attack became a critical hit and the damage was multiplied by the weapons crit multiplier, usually x2 but could be up to x4.

Note that even in 3e a critical hit was a hit and doing damage by definition, however the fact that you could roll within a weapons crit range, yet still miss is probably what's throwing people off. In fact it threw me off until this thread made me take a closer look at the language.
 

Andor

First Post
I believe others have stated earlier in the thread that because a 20 was not considered a "critical hit" straight away in 3rd edition, but merely a threat of a critical hit... that is the reason why we didn't have the idea that auto-hit = critical hit. But since in 5E a roll of 20 is called out as an auto-hit and in addition a critical hit, that is why some folks have determined this to mean that in every case auto-hit = critical hit.

A valid way to look at it... but not definitively the only way to look at it, in my opinion.

Actually, to clarify my own position, I think that the Critical Hit is a subset of the class Hit, obviously an Auto-Hit is too. Therefore every critical hit is an hit by definition, but not every auto-hit is a critical hit. A Magic Missile for example is an auto-hit but cannot be a critical hit.
 

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