Critical hit

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A critical hit with a shortsword.
Critical hits occur when a creature rolls a natural 20 on an attack roll. Critical hits automatically land regardless of the target's armour class, and the attacker also rolls twice the normal number of dice to determine damage dealt.

While initially a mechanic subject purely to the whims of luck, a number of features, abilities, and items allow the player to manipulate the odds of scoring a critical hit. Combined with effects that make critical hits themselves stronger, building around critical hits can be a valid strategic option.

Mechanics[edit | edit source]

Any ability that uses an attack roll, including spell attacks, is capable of landing critical hits. Any dice that are rolled for damage, including additional dice such as those from smites or combat manoeuvres, are rolled twice. Abilities with multiple attack rolls like Slashing Flourish Slashing Flourish or Scorching Ray Scorching Ray can have multiple critical hits, with each attack rolling independently of one another.

Flat modifiers and bonuses to damage – including the creature's relevant ability score modifier and proficiency bonus – are not doubled. Creatures whose attacks deal a flat amount of damage rather than a die roll, such as Familiars, can roll critical hits but do not deal extra damage on them.

Reducing critical threshold[edit | edit source]

Some feats, passive features, and items reduce the critical hit threshold by 1, allowing the creature to land critical hits by rolling either 19 or 20 on attack rolls. Multiple sources of this effect stack, allowing the critical hit threshold to go even lower than 19.

Equipment[edit | edit source]

Weapons[edit | edit source]

Cloaks[edit | edit source]

Armour and headgear[edit | edit source]

Conditions[edit | edit source]

Consumables[edit | edit source]

Class features[edit | edit source]

Feats[edit | edit source]

Illithid Powers[edit | edit source]

  • Fierce Perilous Stakes Fierce Perilous Stakes - Target's critical threshold is reduced by 5, but it is also vulnerable to all damage.

Maximising critical hit value[edit | edit source]

Increasing likelihood of critical hits[edit | edit source]

Any effect that triggers a re-roll of an attack die will increase the likelihood of landing a critical hit. Attacking with Advantage almost doubles the likelihood of rolling a critical.[2] Features that allow for situational rerolls, like Halfling Luck Halfling Luck, similarly increase the odds. Reducing the critical threshold increases chances of scoring a critical hit accordingly; taking into account advantage and multiple attacks, the odds of hitting at least one critical with a character in one round of combat are as follows:[3]

Critical Hit Threshold Chance without Advantage Chance with Advantage Two attacks with advantage
20 5% 9.75% 18.55%
19 10% 19% 34.39%
18 15% 27.75% 47.8%
17 20% 36% 59.04%
16 25% 43.75% 68.36%
15 30% 51% 75.99%
14 35% 57.75% 82.15%

Additional effects on critical hit[edit | edit source]

On the other side of things, some effects add add additional value to critical hits when they occur. These include:

Guaranteed critical hits[edit | edit source]

There are also several ways to guarantee a critical hit.

Negating critical hits[edit | edit source]

Some equipment prevent attackers from landing critical hits on the wearer when worn. When a natural 20 is rolled on an attack roll against the wearer, the roll is simply treated as a 20 while still being affected by the wearer's armour class. With a high enough armour class while wearing equipment that prevents critical hits from being landed, it is possible to always be missed by attack rolls, even if a natural 20 is rolled.

Equipment[edit | edit source]

Armour and headgear[edit | edit source]

Shields[edit | edit source]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

  • Advantage - For more on the calculations behind critical successes, misses, and advantage.