Confirming Critical Hits Was Dumb #3e #DnD #RPG

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And now, something mean-spirited.

Yesterday, I asserted that confirming critical hits was the worst rule in the history of D&D. Why? Well, this is how I imagine the rule came to be.

Designer 1: “Do you know who I really hate?”
Designer 2: “Who?”
Designer 1: “Players.”
Designer 2: “Oh, no kidding. They’re the worst.”
Designer 1: “Well, I have a new idea for a rule that will completely screw them.”
Designer 2: “Ooooo, tell me! Tell me!”
Designer 1: “So, if you roll an unmodified (aka ‘natural’) 20, it’s considered a ‘critical hit’ that does something really cool.”
Designer 2: “Wait, how is that screwing them? You promised we’d be screwing them!”
Designer 1: “Hold on; hold on. I’m not done. So, the player rolls a natural 20, which itself is relatively rare, but in that relatively rare instance when they do, this happens:

Player: “Hooray! I get to do something cool!”
DM: “Um, no you don’t.”
Player: “What? I rolled a natural 20. That’s a critical hit. I get to do something cool.”
DM: “Um, no. Roll again.”
Player: “Why?”
DM: “Because if you want to do something cool, you have to earn it.”
Player: “I thought I just did.”
DM: “Yeah, that was good, but I need more. Roll again.”
Player: “Okay. I guess so. . . . I got a 7.”
DM: “Well, that misses, so your hit isn’t critical. Just roll normal damage and be happy I didn’t kill your character.”
Player: <grumbles knowing that every 3rd Edition D&D DM will do the same thing, so there’s no way out>

Designer 2: “Holy crap! That’s maddening! Players will be soooo frustrated.”
Designer 1: “And don’t forget, RPGs are balanced under the assumption that things like this will occasionally happen, so even when they get it, the mechanical benefit is illusory. This is just a way to dangle a carrot of being able to do cool things, then snatching it from them. It’s all about that frustration them. Why? Because it’s what they deserve.”
Designer 2: “You are a god of game design!”
Designer 1:

Shut up baby, I know it!" - GIF on Imgur

Utter bullshit.

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Dungeons & Dragons is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to nor endorsed the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)


3 thoughts on “Confirming Critical Hits Was Dumb #3e #DnD #RPG

  1. The concept of a special or critical hit was prevalent in the D&D community long before the rule was formalized. It sprang up spontaneously like a weed everywhere. Even before I joined TSR in ’75, special significance was placed on a Nat 20.
    Critical fumbles came later, much later.

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    • Thanks for your comment, as I don’t know the history well, but I don’t know why people (elsewhere on social media) keep telling me this. This is obviously not a transcript of an actual conversation, and my DM comes right out and states that on a failed confirmation hit, the hit is a normal hit.

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