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


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Algidknight

First Post
Pg. 194 PHB:
If The D20 roll for an Attack is a 20, the Attack hits regardless of any modifiers or the target’s AC. This is called a critical hit.

Pg. 72 PHB:
Improved Critical
Beginning when you choose this archetype at 3rd Level, your weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20.

Since the PHB Defines a critical hit as a 20 that always hits regardless of modifiers or the target's AC, and improved critical states that a critical hit is scored (a miss cannot be called a hit) on a roll of 19-20, this means that a 19 will be an automatic hit because a critical hit ignores modifiers and the targets AC

Furthermore, on Pg. 196 PHB it states "When you score a critical hit, you get to roll extra dice for the attack's damage against the target."
Since you cannot roll damage if an attack does not hit and the improved critical feature explicitly states that you score a critical hit (the same wording used when describing the effects of a critical hit), this further confirms that a roll of 19-20 will be an automatic hit.

All emphasis was mine, I hope this helps!

Also feel free to ignore this in your game if you're the DM, it's up to you to use RAW or RAI!

Edit: didn't realize this was already confirmed by Jeremy, but at least you all have an in depth explanation for why :LOL:
 
Last edited:


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
@Algidknight , here's what pg 194 said back in the early printings of the PHB that they were discussing:

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

Much different than what you quoted.

As you can see, the rule was not clear, and was later changed to what you have quoted. But the people debating in this thread 6-7 years ago didn't have that clarity, so there was discussion.
 

Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
It's specific vs general to me so a critical hit is not only a hit, but a critical one, regardless of the number rolled and the normal auto hit/crit range.
 

pemerton

Legend
Pg. 194 PHB:
If The D20 roll for an Attack is a 20, the Attack hits regardless of any modifiers or the target’s AC. This is called a critical hit.
here's what pg 194 said back in the early printings of the PHB that they were discussing:

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

Much different than what you quoted.

As you can see, the rule was not clear, and was later changed to what you have quoted. But the people debating in this thread 6-7 years ago didn't have that clarity, so there was discussion.
I don't see how the changed wording in this respect makes any difference to the interpretation of the Champion ability. This is called and in addition, this is do not seem to carry very different meanings.
 

Algidknight

First Post
@Algidknight , here's what pg 194 said back in the early printings of the PHB that they were discussing:



Much different than what you quoted.

As you can see, the rule was not clear, and was later changed to what you have quoted. But the people debating in this thread 6-7 years ago didn't have that clarity, so there was discussion.
Thanks for pointing that out! I didn't play 5th edition at that time so I've only ever had the copy that is written the way I quoted!

If earlier printing's text describing a critical hit on Pg. 196 is the same as the current edition then there would still be solid evidence to Improved critical being an automatic hit, but as I said, I never owned an earlier printing of the book!
 

ECMO3

Adventurer
I realize that this is a real corner case, but it seems like there is a separation of critical hits and automatic hits in the rules. The rules state that a 20 automatically hits, but it separately states that a critical hit does double damage. Where this gets interesting for me is a case where somebody has an expanded critical range and through high enemy AC and low bonuses rolls a 19 on die but does not meet the enemy's AC.

I think this (difficult to encounter) case is a miss. Does anyone have a different opinion? I entered D&D at the September play test. Have the rules always been this way on this subject in earlier editions?
No ambiguity IMO if a 19 is a critical "hit" that means it hits.

For example:

"Beginning when you choose this archetype at 3rd level, your weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20."

So a 19 is a critical hit. If they intended it to be a miss they would have worded this differently and said "when you roll a 19 and hit a target ....."
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
No ambiguity IMO if a 19 is a critical "hit" that means it hits.

For example:

"Beginning when you choose this archetype at 3rd level, your weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20."

So a 19 is a critical hit. If they intended it to be a miss they would have worded this differently and said "when you roll a 19 and hit a target ....."
We already established that later in the thread. This was from 6 years ago before they tightened up the language, and even then I was convinced by others that this was the case.
 

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