Insta-kill on Vorpal crit

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EDIT: TO CLARIFY, NO ONE IN THIS THREAD HAS EVER ARGUED THAT AN INSTAKILL CRIT *SHOULD* HAPPEN. THE ARGUMENT IS WHETHER OR NOT IT *DOES* HAPPEN IF THE RULES ARE FOLLOWED AS WRITTEN. IF IT DOES, THEN CLEARLY AN ERRATA SHOULD BE ISSUED.

ALSO, NOTE THAT NO ONE HERE HAS TRIED TO JUMP TO THE CHAROP BOARDS AND SAY "HEY, MY VORPAL WEAPON HAS INFINITE DPR!!!!!!!111" THIS IS BECAUSE - FOR REAL - WE ALL REALIZE NO ONE SHOULD PLAY THIS WAY. IT'S JUST A CALL FOR ERRATA.

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This thread is about the Vorpal weapon property and how it interacts with critical hits (as defined on RC 217). Specifically, whether a Vorpal weapon deals infinite damage on a crit because all damage dice get rerolled and maximized repeatedly. Here are the relevant entries for reference:

Maximum Damage section of Critical Hits, RC 217
When an attack scores a critical hit against a target, the target takes the maximum damage possible from the attack. Don't make a damage roll. Instead, the target takes damage as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage. However, attacks that don't deal damage still don't deal damage on a critical hit.

Vorpal property, PHB 236
Whenever you roll the maximum result on any damage die for this weapon, rol that die again and add the additional result to the damage total. If a reroll results in another maximum damage result, roll it again and keep adding.


The thread has reached 25 pages at the time of this edit, so I'm changing this post to spell out the current argument and why a Vorpal instakill is correct, per RAW. This way newcomers can hopefully understand the relevant arguments.

Original Post
This is a thread to continue the debate that's taken up the last few pages of the "Ask a simple question" thread. Sorry for taking up so much space there.

For those who want to read the discussion thus far, it starts with my post on page 977 of that thread, and continues to page 980, with lots of annoyed posts in between.


If you want me to sum up the argument:
I asked why a crit with a vorpal weapon does not trigger the vorpal effect, thus dealing extra (possibly infinite) damage. This is based on the wording of "Maximum Damage" on page 217 of the RC, where it says that instead of making a damage roll, "the target takes damage as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage." If you ask me what the maximum result for damage is when I'm wielding a vorpal weapon and do a 2d10+10 attack, I would either answer "infinite" or maybe "30+vorpal 2d10," depending on my interpretation of your question, but I certainly would not answer 30. So I argue that a vorpal crit should, at the very least, add the vorpal dice back in (a strict reading would probably do infinite - as in, aleph-null - damage, but I don't really care about which side of that you fall on, my point is just about whether vorpal triggers at all).

The responses all involved the wording of two pieces: 1) that vorpal triggers off a roll, and 2) that Maximum Damage specifies "Don't make a damage roll". So those were the main objections. There were also a few people who objected by telling me that "maximum damage" just means using the maximum dice values and adding those, to which I immediately protested "that may be your interpretation, but that is certainly not what is written in the entry".

My responses to the other objections (and at no point do I feel that anyway addressed these points, which is why the discussion kept going):
The interpretation that "Don't make a damage roll" implies not to process any effects from rolling damage is much too strict. One way to see this is that it also rules out adding any damage from a "bonus to damage rolls". If vorpal doesn't trigger because it says "whenever you roll" and crits aren't damage rolls, then a +6 bonus to damage rolls should also not add.

However, damage roll bonuses *do* get added, and the reason is that the immediate subsequent sentence to "Don't make a damage roll" tells you what you *do* do, now that we've established what you *don't* do. And what you *do* do is deal damage "as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage," which in my mind clearly means "pretend you rolled the highest amount of damage you could. deal that much damage". I genuinely am confused about how else that sentence could be interpreted.

And of course, the maximum damage you can roll on a 2d10+10 hit with a vorpal weapon is actually infinity.

This is further supported by the first sentence of that Maximum Damage entry, where it very clearly states: "the target takes the maximum damage possible from the attack".


 I don't think I left out any significant counter-arguments because at this point most people just started telling me "the rules say you didn't roll, you don't get to act like you did"...which is just crazy-talk because the rules very plainly say that yes, I do get to act like I did, that is what the clarifying sentence says. No one said anything to me at this point that wasn't directly (and I mean directly) contradicted by a passage in the RC. So...that's where the debate is now.

Now can anyone please tell me where I'm making a mistake (if I am) so that I can stop thinking about this? I will be the first to concede that an auto-kill crit is almost definitely not what the designers intended, there's no need for RAI arguments about it. Just tell me why it isn't RAW, addressing the points that I made and not rehashing an argument I already responded to (or explain why my response to some argument was insufficient, that's fine).

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Argument 1: The simplest argument. RC 217 says the damage is dealt "as if" it had been rolled. The "as if" wording is used pretty commonly in the rulebooks, and the repeated consensus is that this means "exactly, in all ways, as though it happened." The maximum damage a Vorpal weapon can theoretically deal is infinite. Thus, if we rolled the maximum result of the damage, we'd be rolling infinite dice and dealing infinite damage.

Adding to this is that the critical hit text specifically states that you deal the "maximum damage possible" from the attack. Clearly there is no bound on the most possible damage for a Vorpal weapon.

Honestly, I think this argument should be pretty much sufficient on its own. But clearly, a lot of people don't think it's good enough, so I will continue.

Argument 2: 
The "same trigger" argument

As far as I'm aware, everyone adds in damage mods to the base damage of a crit. As in, even with a non-magical weapon, if you have a "+6 bonus to damage rolls" you would add that 6 damage to a crit.

Most of the counter-arguments to "Vorpal applies on crits" are based on the idea that it is "not a damage roll" and Vorpal can only be applied when you roll damage. However, adding damage mods but also denying Vorpal is inconsistent. Why? They have the same trigger.

Notice: the prerequisite for adding in your static mods is that "you make a damage roll"...you cannot add a "bonus to damage rolls" unless a damage roll is being made.

The prerequisite for applying Vorpal has a few parts (it's a weapon attack, you rolled damage, and the damage has the maximum result), but the only one that isn't obviously true on a crit is that "you rolled damage."

They apply in the exact same situations. So adding one of them without the other is plain inconsistent.

Note also that "making a damage roll" and "rolling damage" are used interchangeably in the rulebooks...but even if you decide to be nitpicky, and say "no, those aren't the same thing," you run into even bigger problems. Because RC 217 says that you don't "make a damage roll", but that you do act as if you "rolled damage." In other words, if you consider these two to be different, then you don't get to add static mods but you do still add Vorpal.

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Those are my primary arguments for the instakill being RAW. Now I'll address any of the remaining arguments against it. Notice first that the "same trigger" argument above rules out the vast majority of rule interpretations, unless you're willing to argue that crits don't get damage mods in their base damage (which means no damage mods on non-magical crits, or magic weapons that don't have rolled crit damage).

Counter-argument 1: 4e was specifically intended not to include any instakills. Therefore, this interpretation is incorrect, because it goes against the intended rules.
Refutation

First off, in general, I'll point out that most people on these boards would just say "that's an RAI argument, not a RAW one" and disregard it. But I'll go a little more in-depth.

There's a couple different types of RAI. One type is this: I know that the developers were hoping for this end result from this power, therefore anything that does not produce that end result is against the intention of the rule. This is the bad kind of RAI. This is the kind that destroys all unexpected rule interactions, because they were not intended, and takes away a lot of the fun of charop and such.

There's also RAI in the sense of "when this section of the rules was written, it was intended to cause this particular effect". Let me tell you: you can give me pretty much any passage of rules text, and I will be able to come up with some crazy ridiculous interpretation of it that might fly against common usage but still is, technically, a consistent rule interpretation. So this second type of RAI is good. It's the type that says "no, you are using words in a way that is very different than how a normal human would use that word, this interpretation is entirely unreasonable."
Example

You only need to look at the very next entry of the RC after the "Maximum Damage" entry. Read the rules for Extra Damage. A simple way to interpret them would be that the only extra damage not maximized on a crit is when it comes from magic weapons/implements or from high crit. If it comes from any other source, the damage is treated normally.

Or, from the same entry, I could argue that all extra damage is not maximized (whether crit-specific or not), because the only requirement listed is that the extra damage "increases the damage dealt on a critical hit," which is technically true of pretty much all extra damage.

The only way to shut down these types of arguments is by pointing out that they are a willful misreading of the author's intent. This is the way such issues are handled in law as well.

That second form of RAI says that on a crit, your process is as follows: you simulate the effect of rolling dice and you determine the maximum damage that you could obtain that way, and deal that much damage. This is how the Maximum Damage entry was meant to be read, even if it's possible to come up with other convoluted interpretations of it that don't quite work this way. Now, using this intended way of reading that entry, you obtain a very unintended result when interacting with Vorpal, i.e. you get an instakill which violates that first type of RAI. But that's irrelevant. If you're reading the rules with their intended meaning, and getting a result that is clearly unintended in some special case, that means it's time for errata. It does not mean "okay, let's change the way we interpret the rule."

Otherwise, this same argument of "the developers never wanted X to happen" would rule out pretty much the entire "Handbook of Broken" thread, and at least the top 20 DPR kings. There is a difference between "that wasn't supposed to be read that way" and "that wasn't supposed to be used that way/create that result."

     Corollary: The existence of crit dice for Vorpal weapons shows that a Vorpal crit isn't meant to be an instakill.
Refutation

First, read the refutation of counter-argument 1, because this is still an RAI argument that falls into the same problems.

Second, it's not even entirely correct. Not all attacks have damage rolls, but they might still be able to crit. Brutal Barrage, for example, adds in the crit dice pretty much regardless of how you interpret Vorpal and crits. So it could be argued that the 6d12 crit dice are for any non-damage roll crits.

Also, the crit dice are not actually meaningless on a regular crit. You can still add 6d12 to the result, it's just that doing so doesn't affect anything. But you can add them, it's not inconsistent, the instakill isn't violating any kind of rule here.


Counter-argument 2: Vorpal only triggers off of rolling, and RC 217 specifically says you do not roll. Therefore, Vorpal doesn't trigger.
Refutation

This argument has too many holes to address all at once (it was the main counterpoint being made for a good bit of this thread, so read through if you want obnoxiously long posts on this). But here's a couple major ones.

1) I agree completely: Vorpal doesn't trigger. But that doesn't matter. What matters is the next part, where it says that we deal damage as if Vorpal had triggered. Saying "it doesn't trigger" doesn't contradict anything that is being claimed.

2) This argument easily falls victim to the "same trigger" argument above. Damage mods also only trigger off of rolling. If this logic ruled out Vorpal, it would also rule out damage mods.

     Corollary: Vorpal only triggers when you physically roll dice.
Refutation

Ugh. This is a terrible objection, but it's come up multiple times so I'm addressing it specifically anyway.

First off, this is the same as counter-argument 2, just worded more obnoxiously. So that refutation also applies here.

Second: the word "physically" is never, anywhere, at all, in the description of Vorpal. At all. There is no basis for this "argument" whatsoever.

Third, let's say that the Vorpal property actually did say "Whenever you physically roll"...but then also, the crit entry said "as if the maximum result had physically been rolled." Okay, well now clearly they match up and Vorpal could apply, right? ...So now take away "physically" from both entries, and you get the same logic, except we're using the actual text from the rules.


Counter-argument 3: Some variation on how infinite damage is logically/mathematically/temporally impossible.
Refutation

First, "infinite damage" is imprecise. The damage dealt is the transfinite number aleph-null. It is a number, and it is very well-defined and entirely consistent with any rules in 4e. If you're interested in the math, read up on it.

Second, there have been a number of objections based on the idea that rolling dice takes time, and therefore rolling infinite dice takes infinite time and you cannot resolve your attack. This is not quite what happens in this situation though. Actually rolling dice does indeed take time in the real world; however, calculating crit damage does not require rolling anything (in fact, it specifically says not to make a damage roll).

We are not rolling the Vorpal dice, we are dealing damage as if we did and always got maximum results. I can calculate how much damage that does without making any rolls (in fact, I already have - it's aleph-null). And dealing that damage is instantaneous, per the rules for damage on RC 222. At no point in the process do you actually roll infinite dice.


Counter-argument 4: When you crit, your Vorpal rerolls are "extra damage on a crit" and thus are not automatically maximized.
Refutation

Vorpal rerolls are not "extra damage" at all, they are rerolls. But more importantly, they happen on regular hits as well as on crits. So this argument doesn't really have any basis. Just because they also happen on crits (and more effectively!) doesn't mean they are because of the crit.


Counter-argument 5: This one is a little trickier. Velkon made an argument that "the target takes damage as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage" can be interpreted in the following way: calculate your maximum damage, without making a damage roll. The method of calculating this damage is left unclear. Then, deal the damage as if it were a damage roll, thus endowing it with all the relevant properties (such as the ability to add damage mods).

This argument avoids the "same trigger" argument because the calculation step (where Vorpal would factor in) does not include anything about simulating rolling, but the damage mods still add later when you deal the damage.
Refutation

The problem is that, yes, you can interpret that sentence this way...but it's not even a remotely natural interpretation. It is a deliberately twisted and convoluted reading, in order to make it fit the desired result of not including Vorpal. So going back to the earlier RAI arguments: it goes against the "good kind" of RAI in order to work with the "bad kind" of RAI.

Reasons why this is an unnatural reading:

1) It leaves unclear how to actually calculate max damage. The RC wording was specifically changed from the PHB wording, presumably to make it clear exactly how "maximum damage" is calculated...but this interpretation completely skips over how to make that calculation.

2) RC 217 says "as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage"...notice that "rolled" is used as a verb here, applying to a specific type of damage result. We are dealing damage as if some other thing actually happened. For the counter-argument to be correct, the entry should've said "the target takes the maximum result of the damage as if it were a damage roll." Using this wording, then maybe we are just using the properties of damage rolls. But the original wording says to act as if an actual dice roll happened.

3) This is often overlooked, but it's a useful point: the first sentence of the Maximum Damage entry specifically says that the target takes the "maximum damage possible" from the attack (which on a Vorpal weapon is rather unequivocally infinite). The interpretation here does not satisfy that intention.

4) I expect that, for pretty much anyone, if they read "as if the maximum result had been rolled" they would not ever interpret this as "the damage is given the properties of a damage roll," instead they would think "behave like you rolled dice that landed a certain way." This is the more obvious meaning of that section, and almost surely what the writer intended when it was written.

This counter-argument is probably the strongest because it can't be as directly contradicted as the others can; instead, my refutation is much more inductive. So none of my points here are a direct undeniable proof that Velkon's interpretation is wrong...but I'd say they very strongly suggest that his interpretation is stretching things. A lot. And not what the writers of the Maximum Damage entry intended when they wrote it.

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Final note: If you still, after reading through this whole post, don't agree with my conclusion, first ask yourself this: what wording of the critical hit entry would result in infinite Vorpal damage? There must be some way to write that, because D&D is an exception-based system, so really as long as it's an idea that is expressable in writing (which this one obviously is) it should be able to be a rule.

Specifically, how would you write it in a general way that says "for realz, you're supposed to do the absolute most damage you could ever possibly do with a regular hit; no exceptions."

My position is that the current RC 217 wording is, in any significant sense, the ideal way to write that rule. That really, it's the most damage you would ever do (so in this case, it's infinite).

If you cannot find any way to word the crit text to express this idea, then there's a good chance you are reasoning under bias. You are, without realizing it, twisting the wording so that the result fits what you think the result should be, as opposed to actually using the words the way they are written.

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Okay, Vorpal + crit = infinite damage, by RAW. Fine. How should it be errataed?

My opinion

This is a topic that is currently being debated. My position is that a line should be added to the Vorpal entry, saying this:
Rerolls granted by this property are never automatically maximized by any maximum damage effect, such as on a critical hit.

This would change the interpretation of Vorpal somewhat from what is currently considered standard. Under this errata, when you crit, you get to reroll all the dice in the attack once. Most people do not currently play this way.

I prefer this for a few reasons. One, because it maintains the intention that a crit should always do at least as much damage as a regular hit (that won't always be the case if Vorpal doesn't get applied to the crit). Two, because it puts the power level of Vorpal in line with what you would expect, given that it is an exclusive level 30 capstone enchantment, and also Rare, so whether or not you get one is 100% the DM's call.

I won't get into all the math here, but at the moment Vorpal is just not optimal for pretty much anyone. Look at the dpr kings thread; not a single one uses a Vorpal weapon. Even other basic pure-damage enchantments like Bloodiron are better. Given that Vorpal is entirely intended as a damage enchantment (like Bloodiron), and it's more expensive, and more rare, and has its initial appearance at a higher level (L30, no less)...it really should be the better effect.

This interpretation makes it stronger for pure damage than Bloodiron, but at the same time, only mildly. If you go through the math, you'll see that for an MBA, using this interpretation (often called the "middle ground" interpretation in this thread), your dpr increases by roughly the same amount as if you had a +1 to hit. Is that good? Yeah, definitely. Is it overpowered/broken? Not at all. Consider the ridiculous abilities you get from some of the other L30-exclusives (there's only a handful of such items, and they're all pretty awesome except for the terrible Bronze Serpent).

Plus, of course, optimizing for Vorpal is different than optimizing for any other weapon, and most characters will not want to build their character around something they only get at level 30 (and only then at the DM's discretion). And Radiant/Frost/Staggering weapons will still be better if your character is built to use them. So again, it makes Vorpal a little more useful...but not excessively so. And it maintains the intention that crits should always be stronger than regular hits.

If you want to debate this proposed errata, feel free to give your input...we only started discussing this part pretty recently.
Sigh.

The rules aren't saying to act as if you rolled dice. They are saying to calculate the damage as if you had rolled the dice and they had come up as the highest roll, with the explicit caveat that no actual rolling happened. You didn't roll them. Since you didn't roll them (because the rules say you didn't, explicitly, which is why we know the "as if" isn't telling you to actually act is you rolled the dice, as it is a sub-clause) you don't get things that trigger off of rolling or them or, more to the point, that trigger off of rolling the highest value on the dice. There are two rules in play. One says you didn't roll. Period. Full stop. You did not roll. The other says to do some math as if you had rolled and the dice you rolled had all come up with their max value. The latter is a sub-clause of the former. Any interpretation that does not satisfy the primary clause is wrong, by default. Yours doesn't, so it is wrong. You're picking and choose rules. "Maximum damage" "as-if" out of context. You can't do that and expect to be correct because, just for starters, that isn't how clauses work.

You get bonuses because when you add up the dice they would be applied "as if" you had rolled. They are part of the damage because they are always part of the damage. Vorpal is only part of the damage if you physically roll a die and have it come up max. You're not doing that, so it isn't.

I repeated the same point at least four different ways in this post alone. Hopefully one of them penetrates this time around. Though at this point I am beginning to doubt the sincerity of your confusion.
Just to lay the exact "Maximum damage" text out here:


RC 217: Maximum Damage
 When an attack scores a critical hit against a target, the target takes the maximum damage possible from the attack.  Don't make a damage roll.  Instead, the target takes damage as if the maximum results had been rolled for damage.  However, attacks that don't deal damage still don't deal damage on a critical hit.



The problem here is that you're focussing on this part:

the target takes the maximum damage possible from the attack.



But the actual rules of how to actually determine the maximum possible damage comes from this part:

Don't make a damage roll.  Instead, the target takes damage as if the maximum results had been rolled for damage.



  Now, because you don't make a damage roll, no game element that has a trigger of a die being rolled can in any way change the "base damage" from the critical hit.  By "base damage", I mean all of the dice that get maximized from the critical hit, so that is not including the additional dice from a magical or high crit weapon.
 
   By game elements having a trigger of a damage die being rolled, I am including:
1) The Vorpal Weapon property
2) The Brutal property (not that is matters on a crit)
3) The Carnage Weapon property - "When you roll the maximum result on at least one of this weapon’s damage dice, the target takes extra damage equal to twice the weapon’s enhancement bonus"  That extra 2 X enhancement damage does not occur on a crit.
4) Any power by any creature or character that would force a damage die to be rerolled.  The only powers and items I can find along this line only let you reroll your own dice, but if you tried to activate it on a crit, it would actually have no effect because you can't reroll dice that were never rolled.

   Likewise, if any other game effect  other than a critical hit (like a power or property of another weapon) caused a damage die from a Vorpal weapon attack to automatically have it's maximum value (instead of allowing a reroll of that ide), that also would not trigger a the Vorpal property reroll of that die because it was not actually rolled to the maximum value, it was set to the maximum value.


This was just pulled from the original thread.

This is the last I'll respond to this line in this thread - if you want to continue this pointless discussion, please start a new thread. so this one can get back to simple questions and answers that are accepted on face value.


 When you crit, you deal damage as if each die had come up with the maximum number - this point we all seem to agree on.  
  Now,  the Property of the Vorpal weapon states quite explicitly:
 "Whenever you roll the maximum result on any damage die for this weapon, roll that die again and add the additional result to the damage total...."
  The key here is that on a critical hit you do not roll any of the damage dice.  While most players do roll damage dice along with the attack roll, once the attack is a crit, those dice are considered to not have been rolled.
  Because you do not roll any of the damage dice, the property of the Vorpal weapon never triggers

 
I didn't get a real response from Alcestis about this, so I'll see if you have one for me: let's say that the vorpal weapon property instead said "you get to add this item's enhancement bonus to damage rolls." Would that be added in on a crit? Because a bonus to damage rolls clearly only applies if you make a damage roll, right? And since a crit does not make a damage roll, then you shouldn't add in that bonus.

I think you'll probably think that my revised property *would* be added on a crit, because of that very next sentence after "Don't make a damage roll" where it says that instead you do the damage you would've done if you had made a damage roll with the maximum result. I am not ignoring the "Don't make a damage roll" line, you guys are ignoring the next part where it clarifies and expands on that. 

 
 As you wrote it, no it wouldn't apply on crits, or regular hits for that matter

  All bonuses apply to the maximized damage on a crit because its "as if" you had rolled and each die were on the maximum value, and you include all your normal static bonuses.  However, since the enhancement bonus is already in the damage roll, this property would actually never add the enhancement bonus to damage rolls because you can't stack typed bonuses.  
  If the property instead said "Double the enhancement bonus for damage rolls" or "This weapon has a +6 bonus to damage rolls" (untyped) then it would work and trigger on both normal hits and crits.


That clarification is what makes it that vorpal should apply.

 

No, it isn't


The "bonus to damage rolls" sounds good whereas the real vorpal property sounds bad because you know that if the real vorpal property were to trigger that way on a crit, it would be broken. So you say, that can't be how it works. But it doesn't matter if it breaks the game, that's what's there. 

 

No, that's not what's there.  The real Vorpal property doesn't trigger that way on a crit because the rules say it doesn't trigger that way on a crit.  There is plenty of precedent for this already and it can be extrapolated from other rulings as well.  For example, if I had a power that forced a creature to reroll its damage dice on one attack, it would be wasted if I tried to use it when that creature made a critical hit because no dice were rolled, and therefore they can't be rerolled.

       Likewise, if you had another magic item or a power of some sort that let you change one weapon damage die you rolled to its maximum value instead of whatever it rolled as, that also would not trigger the Vorpal property for that die, because you didn't actually roll and get the maximum value, you just automatically made it the maximum value.


    The key here isn't what sort of bonuses might or might not get added on a damage roll if it weren't a critical hit.  The point is that the Vorpal property specifically requires that you actually physically rolled a die appropriate for the defined damage of that the type of weapon,  and if that rolled die showed the maximum possible value on the face of the die, then you get to roll an additional die of the same type; if the additional die shows the maximum value, roll again, etc.  No weapon dice are rolled, therefore none of them are rerolled. 

    The rule for critial hits is that you calculate damage as if each die in the roll was its maximum value - but any game elements that only trigger on a roll cannot trigger on those dice because they were not actually rolled.  It may be possible for those game elements to trigger on the critical hit dice or High Crit weapon dice (which Vorpal will trigger on), but not on the original dice which were not actually rolled.

And as I've already said twice, if Vorpal was intended to be an instant kill, then the critical hit line would simply say so, like it did in prior editions when instant kill effects were still in the game and made it not so fun when the PCs got dropped on a regular basis, or when the big bad guy you've been preparing to fight forever gets killed on the first hit.  Nothing made a night of gaming "fun" like having the character you've been playing for 2 years disintegrated with no chance of resurrection.





Okay, it was an illegal bonus as I wrote it, but I think you understood my intent. Let's say it said "an item bonus to damage rolls", much like effects like a Radiant Weapon already do (and let's assume that you don't already have such an item bonus). But you agree that "as if you rolled" is why a damage bonus does add...I don't understand why "as if you rolled" doesn't count for vorpal.

No, that's not what's there.  The real Vorpal property doesn't trigger that way on a crit because the rules say it doesn't trigger that way on a crit.  There is plenty of precedent for this already and it can be extrapolated from other rulings as well.  For example, if I had a power that forced a creature to reroll its damage dice on one attack, it would be wasted if I tried to use it when that creature made a critical hit because no dice were rolled, and therefore they can't be rerolled.

       Likewise, if you had another magic item or a power of some sort that let you change one weapon damage die you rolled to its maximum value instead of whatever it rolled as, that also would not trigger the Vorpal property for that die, because you didn't actually roll and get the maximum value, you just automatically made it the maximum value.


Where do the rules say it doesn't trigger that way? The rules do not make any specification one way or another about how vorpal affects the base damage of a crit, so we go with the normal wording of crits and apply that, even if the result is counterintuitive.

Your first example I don't think is very relevant to this question. The second example could be, but it's interesting because most people seem to side with the idea that the vorpal property does trigger in that case. Ancient Forebears' Rage, a barbarian d29, does exactly that, and I've seen multiple builds that used it to get gigantic vorpal effects with a falchion. Actually, Alcestis himself seemed to think that was okay based on comments here. The key is that the property obviously doesn't trigger if it's just "deal the die's maximum value as damage instead," but the wording is "the roll changes to the die's maximum value." Those little wording details matter. Likewise with vorpal crits, it says to act as if you *rolled* maximum damage, not just to deal the die's maximum value as damage. That's why I am arguing against the standard interpretation (which is to deal damage equal to the maximum value of the given dice - NOT THE SAME as the maximum result of the damage roll, because the damage roll potentially includes infinite vorpal dice, its maximum value is infinite).

Why do you insist that the vorpal property "specifically requires that you actually physically rolled a die"...it doesn't say that. That's something you are adding to it. If it had a specific line like that, then the specific rule would beat out general rules like crit damage and Ancient Forebears' Rage. But that line isn't there. So the wording of the other effects are how you determine if they trigger vorpal. The wording of crit damage is that you behave as if you rolled the maximum result; not to add the maximum values of the dice, just calculate damage as if you rolled the maximum result. If I had rolled the maximum result, how much damage would I deal on my standard vorpal 2d10+10 example? Infinite, or maybe 30+vorpal 2d10, but definitely not 30.

I am nearly 100% sure that you are right that the designers didn't want vorpal crits to insta-kill. It's a ridiculous thing to have happen. I think it's an oversight. But that has nothing to do with whether it's written like that or not.
This was just pulled from the original thread.


reducing for space savings

Your first example I don't think is very relevant to this question. 


I feel it is relevant - my point was that an effect that forces a reroll to reduce damage can't be used against a critical hit, because there was no actual damage roll made.   No powers currently exist that do this (they generally make you reroll attack rolls), but if one were created, it would not apply to the base damage of the crit.


The second example could be, but it's interesting because most people seem to side with the idea that the vorpal property does trigger in that case. Ancient Forebears' Rage, a barbarian d29, does exactly that, and I've seen multiple builds that used it to get gigantic vorpal effects with a falchion. Actually, Alcestis himself seemed to think that was okay based on comments here. The key is that the property obviously doesn't trigger if it's just "deal the die's maximum value as damage instead," but the wording is "the roll changes to the die's maximum value." Those little wording details matter. Likewise with vorpal crits, it says to act as if you *rolled* maximum damage, not just to deal the die's maximum value as damage. That's why I am arguing against the standard interpretation (which is to deal damage equal to the maximum value of the given dice - NOT THE SAME as the maximum result of the damage roll, because the damage roll potentially includes infinite vorpal dice, its maximum value is infinite).


   I don't have the energy to read through that whole thread at this time of night, but as a DM, I don't think I would allow Forebears's rage to trigger the Vorpal effect, specially because the maximum value was not rolled.  If instead the rage effect gave you Brutal 2 for all weapon attacks, and those rerolls were the maximum value, then Vorpal would trigger, and the 1 and 2s on the Vorpal dice would certainly be rerolled.
  That being said, I believe others may be saying it works with Vorpal specifically because the Ancient Forebear's rage says "the roll changes to its maximum value" and not "as if it were its maximum value".  So in this case there was an actual roll, and the roll itself was changed.  If the Rage effect instead said "Until the rage ends, whenever you roll 1 or 2 on a damage die for a primal attack, treat the value of that die as if it had instead rolled the maximum value", then the same people would probably be saying it doesn't work with Vorpal because its not actually being change to the max value, it's just being treated as if it were the max value.

However, I haven't been involved enough in that particular argument to go much further with it in either direction.

Why do you insist that the vorpal property "specifically requires that you actually physically rolled a die"...it doesn't say that. ...  If it had a specific line like that, then the specific rule would beat out general rules like crit damage and Ancient Forebears' Rage.


   Actually, it does say that:
"Whenever you roll the maximum result on any damage die for this weapon, roll that die again and add the additional result to the damage total. If a reroll results in another maximum damage result, roll it again and keep adding."
   The maximum damage rule of a critical hit specifically states you don't roll, and therefore you can not roll again.

Now to change the emphasis of your next segment here:

So the wording of the other effects are how you determine if they trigger vorpal. The wording of crit damage is that you behave as if you rolled the maximum result; not to add the maximum values of the dice, just calculate damage as if you rolled the maximum result. If I had rolled the maximum result, how much damage would I deal on my standard vorpal 2d10 +10 example? Infinite, or maybe 30+vorpal 2d10, but definitely not 30.


   Yes, you would do 30.  This is because if the weapon in this case did not have the Vorpal property, it would do 30 on a crit.  Because there was no roll, the Vorpal property is not triggered, and therefore the Vorpal property is not included in determining the maximum possible damage.

Sigh.

The rules aren't saying to act as if you rolled dice. They are saying to calculate the damage as if you had rolled the dice and they had come up as the highest roll, with the explicit caveat that no actual rolling happened. You didn't roll them. Since you didn't roll them (because the rules say you didn't, explicitly, which is why we know the "as if" isn't telling you to actually act is you rolled the dice, as it is a sub-clause) you don't get things that trigger off of rolling or them or, more to the point, that trigger off of rolling the highest value on the dice. There are two rules in play. One says you didn't roll. Period. Full stop. You did not roll. The other says to do some math as if you had rolled and the dice you rolled had all come up with their max value. The latter is a sub-clause of the former. Any interpretation that does not satisfy the primary clause is wrong, by default. Yours doesn't, so it is wrong. You're picking and choose rules. "Maximum damage" "as-if" out of context. You can't do that and expect to be correct because, just for starters, that isn't how clauses work.

You get bonuses because when you add up the dice they would be applied "as if" you had rolled. They are part of the damage because they are always part of the damage. Vorpal is only part of the damage if you physically roll a die and have it come up max. You're not doing that, so it isn't.

I repeated the same point at least four different ways in this post alone. Hopefully one of them penetrates this time around. Though at this point I am beginning to doubt the sincerity of your confusion.


I'm sorry, I understand your frustration, I feel it too. And this was a helpful post, so thank you, I will try to continue being clear about what confuses me.

I know that I didn't roll any dice. I do not understand why that matters in this case. If you ask me, what's the maximum result of a vorpal 2d10+10 (I don't know why I'm using that example, but I'm sticking with it...), I can tell you it's infinite. If you ask me, how much damage do you do if you roll maximum values on the damage dice in that same situation, then I might say 30+vorpal 2d10 because the wording changed. We agree that this is the answer based on normal language, yes?

Now, I determined the damage in either of those ways. I did not make a damage roll. So what part of the Maximum Damage section did I violate? I did not make a damage roll, but when I determined the damage, I did so as if I had rolled it. This seems word-for-word to match what it says to do. It says that the amount of damage I deal is what I would have dealt if I rolled.

We agree; I did not roll. In fact, I'll take it a step further if you like: I agree that vorpal does not trigger. HOWEVER, when I determine how much damage to deal, I pretend as though vorpal does trigger, because I pretend as though I have rolled the damage and gotten the maximum result. And in this pretend world, I deal infinite damage. The crit's base damage is equal to the amount of damage you would have dealt in pretend world where you rolled maximum damage. So the damage dealt by the crit is equal to what would have happened if vorpal had triggered. Does that make it better? You are technically correct, vorpal never triggers, but the wording of Maximum Damage is that the damage dealt equals what would have happened if we'd rolled max, and in that hypothetical case, vorpal would have triggered. And there is absolutely nothing that limits this pretend world - the rules say that it's exactly like if we really rolled, we just don't physically do so, because we've made it more abstract.

You guys both seem to insist that there *is* a limit somewhere on the extent to which "as if the maximum result had been rolled" can apply, such that it doesn't apply on effects that get into the details of dice rolls. But I don't see the rule-basis for such a restriction. This effect functions meaningfully the way it is written, you don't have to assume additional rules to make it functional. As written, you determine damage as if you rolled the max, which means you determine it as if vorpal triggered (even though it doesn't actually trigger), and you proceed accordingly.

Was that broken down far enough? My interpretation is not inconsistent with RAW, because I never make a damage roll, and I never trigger the vorpal property, but I do damage strictly "as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage." The standard way of doing it, where I'd do 30 base damage in my example, *is* inconsistent with RAW because if I had actually rolled the maximum result, I would not have done 30 damage, I would have done more.

Also, I think you are ignoring a part of it too. The first sentence says "the target takes the maximum damage possible from the attack." The "Don't make a damage roll" part is clearly a clarification on that sentence, as in "don't roll anything - just figure out the most you could possibly deal, and do that much". There's no question at all that "the maximum damage possible from the attack" is infinite, that is clear as day.

Please at least make an attempt to follow this argument before you go yelling at me for being obstinate.

On a side note, Alcestis, do you agree with RisingZan about this part?
   Likewise, if any other game effect  other than a critical hit (like a power or property of another weapon) caused a damage die from a Vorpal weapon attack to automatically have it's maximum value (instead of allowing a reroll of that ide), that also would not trigger a the Vorpal property reroll of that die because it was not actually rolled to the maximum value, it was set to the maximum value.

I'm sorta with ThatWasTotallyNinja on this one and his strongest argument (imho) still hasn't been answered:

If the damage total from "as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage" doesn't include elements triggered on damage rolls (because no real damage roll took place), then why do we include the enhancement bonus of the weapon in the total?
I'm sorta with ThatWasTotallyNinja on this one and his strongest argument (imho) still hasn't been answered:

If the damage total from "as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage" doesn't include elements triggered on damage rolls (because no real damage roll took place), then why do we include the enhancement bonus of the weapon in the total?


Take note that "as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage" assumes that you treat the crit, well, as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage, without actually making any damage rolls.

Thus, you include the enhancement bonus in the total.  So if you made an attack that normally does 2d8 + 16 damage (18 ~ 32 damage), when you crit, it simply becomes 32, plus anything that may add to it on a crit.

However, the Vorpal property explicitly requires that you *roll* for the damage first before you get the free re-roll, which you explicitly do not do so when you crit.  The free re-rolls would, however, apply if you roll for max damage with any of your crit dice, or anything else that is triggered on a crit.

Think of it this way:

Hit...
1. Did you roll a natural 20?
Y -> It might be a crit.
N -> It might miss.
Effect: Proceed to the next step.

2. Is the total roll equal to or greater than the target number?
Y -> If 1 = Y, it's a crit, else it's a hit.
N -> If 1 = Y, it's a hit, else it's a miss.
Effect: Proceed to the next step.

3. Is it a crit?
Y -> Base damage is maxed out ("as if the maximum result has been rolled for damage") instead of rolling for damage.  Apply extra damage and effects granted by the crit, as well as other effects found in the power's "Hit" and "Effect" entries, if any.
N -> Proceed to next step.

4. Is it a hit?
Y -> Apply the effects found in the power's "Hit" entry.
N -> Apply the effects found in the power's "Miss" entry, if any.
Effect: Apply the effects found in the power's "Effect" entry, if any.

Vorpal...
1. Did you roll for damage?
Y -> Proceed to next step.
N -> Ignore the rest of this portion.

2. Was the result of your roll the maximum roll for your damage dice?
Y -> Re-roll the damage dice, and add the new result.  Re-check.
N -> No re-roll.

- - - - -
Honestly, with regards to the whole thing, the first question you really have to ask is "did I roll for damage?"  Rules say that when you crit, you don't roll for damage and instead get the maximum result as if you rolled for damage, which again if it was a 2d8 + 16 it is 8 + 8 + 16 = 32.  Because you don't actually roll for damage, you don't get any re-rolls.

AGAIN, Vorpal requires you to roll for damage.  Critical hits explicitly don't -- regardless of how you interpret the line after the "You don't roll for damage" -- so it doesn't apply.
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I'm sorta with ThatWasTotallyNinja on this one and his strongest argument (imho) still hasn't been answered:

If the damage total from "as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage" doesn't include elements triggered on damage rolls (because no real damage roll took place), then why do we include the enhancement bonus of the weapon in the total?


Take note that "as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage" assumes that you treat the crit, well, as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage, without actually making any damage rolls.

Thus, you include the enhancement bonus in the total.  So if you made an attack that normally does 2d8 + 16 damage (18 ~ 32 damage), when you crit, it simply becomes 32, plus anything that may add to it on a crit.



I think you're missing the point. Part of that "2d8 + 16" attack is the enhancement bonus of your weapon, and that ALSO only gets added on damage rolls. So why, if you're not making a real damage roll, do you still get the full +16 damage modifier?
Chaosfang one thing with your argument, doesn't invalidate it but a natural 20 is never a miss. Read through it a few times and got very confused.
Allow me to throw a monkey wrench into the works.  The arguement is that you didn't actually roll damage, therefore Vorpal doesn't trigger.  If this position is true, then a lot of other things become broken.  The phrasing below is "the target takes damage as if the maximum results had been rolled".

RC 217: Maximum Damage
When an attack scores a critical hit against a target, the target takes the maximum damage possible from the attack.  Don't make a damage roll.  Instead, the target takes damage as if the maximum results had been rolled for damage.  However, attacks that don't deal damage still don't deal damage on a critical hit.



Let's look at something else that uses the common "as if" phrasing.

Collar of Recovery
Property:  Gain extra hit points equal to this item’s enhancement bonus when you spend a healing surge to regain hit points.


Cure Light Wounds
Effect: The target regains hit points as if it had spent a healing surge.



Those that are saying that Vorpal doesn't trigger on a crit are also asserting that Collar of Recovery doesn't work with Cure Light Wounds.  Both use the "as if" phrasing, and both should work.


That having been said, I would argue that conditional damage (like the extra damage you get on a crit from a magic weapon - and the Vorpal property) can never be part of "the maximum damage possible from the attack".  If an attack does (for example) 2d10 + 20, then the maximum damage would be 30.  Because that means you "rolled" two 10's, you can now trigger Vorpal twice by actually rolling 2d10.  Either that or it requires errata.  Even if this is not supported by RAW I would certainly run it this way at my table.  Not getting the Vorpal trigger on a crit seems wrong.

Otherwise what the other side is saying is the following:

1. Crit gives me max damage on 2d10 + 20 = 30
2. Vorpal adds 2d10 more damage because I "rolled" max on both d10's.
3. Because the attack was a crit, those 2d10 are maximized - return to step 2 (ad nausium)

The 2d10 damage added in step two was never part of the original attack and thus cannot be maximized.  This seems like it should fall under something, being an infinite loop and all.  Bag o Rats or similar.
Chaosfang one thing with your argument, doesn't invalidate it but a natural 20 is never a miss. Read through it a few times and got very confused.

A natural 20 is never a miss, but if 20 + your attack bonus wouldn't hit, then it's not a crit, and its just a normal hit instead.  I think that's what chaosfang meant, but worded it incorrectly.
The free re-rolls would, however, apply if you roll for max damage with any of your crit dice, or anything else that is triggered on a crit.



It could be argued that the crit dice would not get re-rolls because the vorpal property reads:
"Whenever you roll the maximum result on any damage die for this weapon...", and Weapon Damage Die is expliicitly defined on RC223 as a [W] entry, which the critical dice are not.
  So you could reroll the dice from a high crit vorpal weapon, but not the +6d12 critical hit dice, or the +3d12 from the daily power (although that 3d12 would maximize on a crit).  Now if Vorpal's crit line instead read "+6[W]", that would definitely get extra rerolls.
  Likewise Vorpal does not let you reroll other extra damage dice like sneak attack, hunter's quarry, etc.

I asked why a crit with a vorpal weapon does not trigger the vorpal effect, thus dealing extra (possibly infinite) damage.

Because no DM would ever allow that. I'm all for thought exercises, even moot ones... but this one seems especially moot.

I will be the first to concede that an auto-kill crit is almost definitely not what the designers intended, there's no need for RAI arguments about it. Just tell me why it isn't RAW

RAW is open to interpretation here. As is often the case, the literal wording of any text can often have multiple viable interpretations.  Intent does matter, especially in cases where the intent is clear.
Allow me to throw a monkey wrench into the works.  The arguement is that you didn't actually roll damage, therefore Vorpal doesn't trigger.  If this position is true, then a lot of other things become broken.  The phrasing below is "the target takes damage as if the maximum results had been rolled".

You need the first sentence. First sentence: You do not roll. Then "as if". The as if sentence is modifying the sentence that says you do not actually roll, instead you pretend that you rolled. The example is not applicable because those say "as if" without any restrictions. In this case there is a restriction. So you get to pretend you rolled in all ways except that you didn't actually roll. That is how a clause and sub-clause work.
I'm sorta with ThatWasTotallyNinja on this one and his strongest argument (imho) still hasn't been answered:

If the damage total from "as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage" doesn't include elements triggered on damage rolls (because no real damage roll took place), then why do we include the enhancement bonus of the weapon in the total?


Take note that "as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage" assumes that you treat the crit, well, as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage, without actually making any damage rolls.

Thus, you include the enhancement bonus in the total.  So if you made an attack that normally does 2d8 + 16 damage (18 ~ 32 damage), when you crit, it simply becomes 32, plus anything that may add to it on a crit.

However, the Vorpal property explicitly requires that you *roll* for the damage first before you get the free re-roll, which you explicitly do not do so when you crit.  The free re-rolls would, however, apply if you roll for max damage with any of your crit dice, or anything else that is triggered on a crit.

Think of it this way:

Hit...
1. Did you roll a natural 20?
Y -> It might be a crit.
N -> It might miss.
Effect: Proceed to the next step.

2. Is the total roll equal to or greater than the target number?
Y -> If 1 = Y, it's a crit, else it's a hit.
N -> If 1 = Y, it's a hit, else it's a miss.
Effect: Proceed to the next step.

3. Is it a crit?
Y -> Base damage is maxed out ("as if the maximum result has been rolled for damage") instead of rolling for damage.  Apply extra damage and effects granted by the crit, as well as other effects found in the power's "Hit" and "Effect" entries, if any.
N -> Proceed to next step.

4. Is it a hit?
Y -> Apply the effects found in the power's "Hit" entry.
N -> Apply the effects found in the power's "Miss" entry, if any.
Effect: Apply the effects found in the power's "Effect" entry, if any.

Vorpal...
1. Did you roll for damage?
Y -> Proceed to next step.
N -> Ignore the rest of this portion.

2. Was the result of your roll the maximum roll for your damage dice?
Y -> Re-roll the damage dice, and add the new result.  Re-check.
N -> No re-roll.

- - - - -
Honestly, with regards to the whole thing, the first question you really have to ask is "did I roll for damage?"  Rules say that when you crit, you don't roll for damage and instead get the maximum result as if you rolled for damage, which again if it was a 2d8 + 16 it is 8 + 8 + 16 = 32.  Because you don't actually roll for damage, you don't get any re-rolls.

AGAIN, Vorpal requires you to roll for damage.  Critical hits explicitly don't -- regardless of how you interpret the line after the "You don't roll for damage" -- so it doesn't apply.


Thanks for breaking it down like that, it actually helped me see where the disagreement is coming up.

In your little flow chart there, you put vorpal at the very end. After we've done everything else, now we reroll the dice that were maxed. In this case, you would be correct, there wasn't any damage roll there so vorpal does not trigger.

However, what makes far more sense to me, is that vorpal kicks in much earlier. During that step where we calculate the base damage of the crit: in that step, we include vorpal as part of the calculation, because it is part of the normal damage we would do. There's no reason at all that vorpal should be calculated separately from where you do all the other damage calculations, that's never specified by the property, so we should do it at the same time as we calculate everything else.

So, during our step where we're figuring out the crit's base damage, we ask: how much damage would the target take if we rolled the maximum result for damage? The answer is how much base damage the crit does. In this case, the answer is infinity, because if we rolled the damage then vorpal would kick in, and the maximum result of vorpal damage is infinite. We didn't roll anything; we're not violating the crit rule. But vorpal still factored in, because for purposes of calculating damage, it says to act is if the dice were rolled in this particular way that would end up triggering vorpal.



You need the first sentence. First sentence: You do not roll. Then "as if". The as if sentence is modifying the sentence that says you do not actually roll, instead you pretend that you rolled. The example is not applicable because those say "as if" without any restrictions. In this case there is a restriction. So you get to pretend you rolled in all ways except that you didn't actually roll. That is how a clause and sub-clause work.


You keep saying this, and I keep asking, what is it about the vorpal property that suggests it's any more strict than a bonus to damage rolls in terms of this section?

A bonus to damage rolls is extremely specific: it only applies when you actually make a damage roll. Maximum Damage says you do not make a damage roll. You pretend you roll, but you didn't actually roll, therefore you do not get this bonus damage, because you did not roll.

If the wording for applying vorpal had some line about "you must physically roll these dice" then I could see how you'd interpret one to go one way and the other differently. The wording for the two is the same: you have to roll. What is it in the wording that, according to you, makes a damage roll bonus count but not vorpal?

Also, as I've pointed out repeatedly: I never say that you actually roll vorpal. So what you're saying does not apply. In fact, I specifically said that vorpal does not technically trigger. But it doesn't matter, because Maximum Damage says to determine the damage as if it did. If I had rolled the maximum result for damage, then vorpal would have triggered. I know that I never actually rolled anything, so vorpal didn't actually trigger...but for purposes of determining the damage of the crit, I behave as though I did, because that's exactly what the RC says to do.

One last time: the amount of base damage a crit deals is 100% independent of the fact that you are not making a damage roll. The damage you deal is what the maximum result would be if you had rolled it. It's not "if you had rolled it without making a damage roll," as you seem to be saying (which would also preclude damage roll bonuses from counting and is generally kind of silly). What that section says is "instead of physically rolling stuff, figure out the most damage you could've dealt by physically rolling stuff, and do that much damage." Which is supported by the actual first sentence (that you keep ignoring): "the target takes the maximum damage possible from the attack". The next sentence is a clarification on that.
Allow me to throw a monkey wrench into the works.  The arguement is that you didn't actually roll damage, therefore Vorpal doesn't trigger.  If this position is true, then a lot of other things become broken.  The phrasing below is "the target takes damage as if the maximum results had been rolled".

You need the first sentence. First sentence: You do not roll. Then "as if". The as if sentence is modifying the sentence that says you do not actually roll, instead you pretend that you rolled. The example is not applicable because those say "as if" without any restrictions. In this case there is a restriction. So you get to pretend you rolled in all ways except that you didn't actually roll. That is how a clause and sub-clause work.


The example I listed is exactly spot on in comparison.

Collar of Recovery:  Recieve extra healing if you spend a surge.
Cure Light Wounds:   Recieve healing as if you spent a surge.

In this case you heal in all ways as if you had spent a surge, without actually spending a surge.  The "as if you spent a surge" is what allows you to benefit from the bonus healing of the Collar.

Is no different from:
Don't make a damage roll.  Instead, the target takes damage as if the maximum results had been rolled for damage.



In this case you do damage in all ways as if you had rolled max damage, without actually rolling.

This is just gonna be one of those times that you are wrong Alcestis.
You emphasized the wrong part. "As if you spent a surge" has no restrictions. This has a restriction. "You don't get xyz bonuses to t, otherwise you get all things that apply to t." Do you get xyz? No. Compared to "You get all things that apply to t." Do you get xyz? Yes. There is a critical difference you're completely ignoring... and when you ignore rules you're wrong, by default.

@Thatwastotallyninja: asked and answered (many times now). Vorpal requires rolling. You are explicitly not rolling. Bonuses to damage rolls do not require rolling, per the defininition of damage rolls (RC 222). Incidentally Vorpal is not part of the damage roll initially. It only becomes a part of the damage roll when you roll the max number on a die. Since you didn't do that, it never is. Period. Which is why Vorpal doesn't trigger. It isn't part of the maxmimum damage the attack can do, because it isn't even part of the attack till you roll max on a die.

Really, go read all the relevant sections and don't ignore sentences. Though at this point since you're clearly not an idiot I'm sort of forced to assume you're trolling.
Chaosfang one thing with your argument, doesn't invalidate it but a natural 20 is never a miss. Read through it a few times and got very confused.

Natural 20 is always a hit, but not always a crit (RC, p.216).  If #1 (natural 20) is Yes, then determine if it's a crit (#2).  If 20 + bonuses >= target number, it's a crit (#2,Y), but if not, it's only an automatic hit (#2, N).

I think you're missing the point. Part of that "2d8 + 16" attack is the enhancement bonus of your weapon, and that ALSO only gets added on damage rolls. So why, if you're not making a real damage roll, do you still get the full +16 damage modifier?

Reading through RC p. 280...

Magic weapons and magic implements grant their enhancement bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls only when the wielder uses powers through the weapon or the implement (or directly from the weapon or the implement, for items that have attack powers). A power's description indicates if it functions through the use of a weapon or an implement.

Example: Because a dragonslayer weapon is a magic weapon, its enhancement bonus applies to the wielder's attack rolls and damage rolls with the weapon.



RC p. 222...
A damage roll can be modified by a number of factors. Monsters' damage rolls are rarely modified by anything but temporary bonuses or penalties, such as those applied by powers. The following bonuses are the most common for an adventurer's damage rolls.
* A specific ability modifier. A typical attack power used by an adventurer specifies an ability modifier to add to the damage roll. The ability modifier is usually the same one added to the power's attack roll.
* An enhancement bonus (usually from a magic weapon or an implement).
* A feat bonus.
* An item bonus.

Unless I'm mistaken, as long as the power has the Weapon keyword, and you attack with the +6 Vorpal weapon, if you hit and make a damage roll -- regardless if it's an actual damage roll or "as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage" -- then you add the weapon's enhancement bonus.

Again, when you make an attack that does 2[W]+modifier damage, and you have a +6 Vorpal Longsword and a total damage modifier of +16, then when you hit, it's 2d8+16 (roll two eight-sided dice, then add 16, as written in p. 222).  When you crit, the maximum of an eight-sided dice is 8, so instead of actually rolling the dice, you get the maximum result for the attack and use that instead.

Thanks for breaking it down like that, it actually helped me see where the disagreement is coming up.

In your little flow chart there, you put vorpal at the very end. After we've done everything else, now we reroll the dice that were maxed. In this case, you would be correct, there wasn't any damage roll there so vorpal does not trigger.

I placed it at the end because it's an exception to the rule.  It applies regardless if it's a crit or a hit, because it only checks for two things: if you made the damage roll, and if the rolled damage resulted in the maximum possible for the damage roll (e.g. 6, for a 1d6 damage roll).

However, what makes far more sense to me, is that vorpal kicks in much earlier. During that step where we calculate the base damage of the crit: in that step, we include vorpal as part of the calculation, because it is part of the normal damage we would do. There's no reason at all that vorpal should be calculated separately from where you do all the other damage calculations, that's never specified by the property, so we should do it at the same time as we calculate everything else.

So, during our step where we're figuring out the crit's base damage, we ask: how much damage would the target take if we rolled the maximum result for damage? The answer is how much base damage the crit does. In this case, the answer is infinity, because if we rolled the damage then vorpal would kick in, and the maximum result of vorpal damage is infinite. We didn't roll anything; we're not violating the crit rule. But vorpal still factored in, because for purposes of calculating damage, it says to act is if the dice were rolled in this particular way that would end up triggering vorpal.

Again, I had to separate it because it's an exception to the rule, just as criticals are the exception to the rule.

Normal rule: Roll weapon's damage dice.  Apply the result.
Critical rule: Don't roll for damage.  Damage = maximum possible damage for the weapon (as if the damage was rolled).
Vorpal property: When you roll weapon's damage dice and get the maximum, re-roll and add the new result to the damage.

So apparently the issue is: when do you apply the Vorpal property?

For you, it's when you determine the maximum base result for damage: you max the dice roll, get the result, max the new dice roll because you crit, get the new result, repeat until infinity is reached.

For me, it's whenever you roll for damage and the result and get the maximum die roll, regardless if it's crit dice, normal dice, or whatever.  You don't roll your base dice damage, then you don't get the reroll for your base dice damage.

I can allow for a bit of a stretch, that you got the maximum for the base damage as a result of the crit, and thus get your added dice *once*, although I'd rather keep it sweet and simple.

A bonus to damage rolls is extremely specific: it only applies when you actually make a damage roll. Maximum Damage says you do not make a damage roll. You pretend you roll, but you didn't actually roll, therefore you do not get this bonus damage, because you did not roll.


Actually, RC p.222 does not explicitly state that you only apply it when you make a damage roll, but then again there's no entry on non-rolled damage, so the simplest assumption is that if the power does not make a damage roll, it doesn't benefit from damage roll modifiers.

Criticals are again the exception to the normal rule: as written, you get the maximum result instead of rolling for damage.

- - - - -
One last time: the amount of base damage a crit deals is 100% independent of the fact that you are not making a damage roll. The damage you deal is what the maximum result would be if you had rolled it. It's not "if you had rolled it without making a damage roll," as you seem to be saying (which would also preclude damage roll bonuses from counting and is generally kind of silly). What that section says is "instead of physically rolling stuff, figure out the most damage you could've dealt by physically rolling stuff, and do that much damage." Which is supported by the actual first sentence (that you keep ignoring): "the target takes the maximum damage possible from the attack". The next sentence is a clarification on that.


"The maximum damage possible from the attack" normally does not take Vorpal into consideration, as the Vorpal property is an exception to the rule.  Apparently, you consider the Vorpal property as an integral part of the "maximum damage possible from the attack"...

Oh and apparently this isn't the first time "Insta-kill with Vorpal" was brought up: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

... but the consensus is apparently still the same, regardless of how much you shout "BUT IT'S RAW! IT'S RAW!": No, you don't get infinite damage because of the "maximum damage possible".

[ Even if it's RAW and even if the developers intended it to be "insta-kill on a crit/super-max-damage/whatever", unless everyone in the group including the DM would allow it to happen, it won't. ]

There is something that, legally, comes close, in spite of all the errata so far: Vengeance's End (Runepriest's Hammer of Vengeance Paragon Path, level 20 power), which effectively grants Brutal 2.  Use with a +6 Vorpal Falchion for 50% chance to get free re-rolls.  Even by how the community in general interprets the Vorpal property, if you crit with the power, that's 6d12+6d4+40+other modifiers at brutal 2, so expect the damage to easily reach insta-kill for the most part.

For a more at-will equivalent, Gauntlets of Destruction gets you brutal 1, so at least you have a higher chance of getting the max damage roll [at worst that's 4d4+modifiers, or 8+modifiers ~ infinite+modifiers.  Otherwise, the community here in general would disagree with Vorpal doing infinite damage.

Although again, personally I would agree with the following interpretation:
1. When you crit, you determine the maximum damage as if you rolled for it
2. The Vorpal property nets you extra damage dice for getting the maximum damage roll
3a. The new damage dice are not inherently part of #1, but rather are added to #1, so they're not maxed.
3b. The new damage dice are extra damage granted by the crit, so they're not maxed.

Maybe they should errata Vorpal to remove the possibility of interpreting it as granting infinite damage, maybe: "Whenever you make an actual damage die roll with this weapon and get the maximum result for that die, you can roll that die again and treat it as extra damage.  This property also applies to the extra damage die granted by this property."

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The arguments are strong on either side but I find myself leaning towards Vorpal actually causing the attack to instakill.

My opinion is that since Vorpal says you add the additional result to the damage total, the property is just adding more damage to the attack itself. This means that the property of Vorpal is capable of increasing the maximum damage of the attack itself.

Even though Vorpal doesn't trigger, it still has the theoretical capability to increase the maximum damage possible of any given weapon attack that uses it.

If we are going to pretend that we rolled, instead of actually rolling, then we pretend that we threw the dice and they landed on maximum. That means that we are pretending that all the conditions for Vorpal were just met, and therefore in the pretend scenario, Vorpal would trigger, increasing the maximum possible damage from the attack. Since the Vorpal effect adds more damage to the attack in the form of additional damage rolls, and it doesn't specifically only add them when you crit, it means that these dice aren't specifically required to be rolled (as per the Extra Damage section of Critical Hit in the PHB). This means that we pretend that we rolled them, and that they landed on the maximum possible value, which means that we just pretended that all the required conditions of the Vorpal effect were just met, which increases the maximum possible damage of the attack.

My point is that if we're going to go in to a pretend scenario where we rolled maximum dice, there are two results from that scenario. We go in to find the maximum damage, but while we're there, all the conditions for Vorpal are met (as a side effect). But we're going to act as if this pretend scenario was what actually happened, correct? That's how we take the maximum damage from the pretend event and use it in the actual game, right? If we're going to act as if what we just pretended actually happened, then we're going to act as if all the conditions for Vorpal were met, which means by all definitions that Vorpal will now trigger.

From my understanding, unless we can clarify that it is specifically stated the only thing we take from the "pretend you rolled maximum" is the total damage, and not anything else, then Vorpal shouldn't trigger. But the way I read it, we act as if the thing we pretend happened, did happen - that is to say, ALL of what we just pretended happened - and in this case Vorpal should trigger (and then pretend to be maximised since it isn't extra critical damage, rinse repeat ad nauseum).
The arguments are strong on either side but I find myself leaning towards Vorpal actually causing the attack to instakill.

My opinion is that since Vorpal says you add the additional result to the damage total, the property is just adding more damage to the attack itself. This means that the property of Vorpal is capable of increasing the maximum damage of the attack itself.

Even though Vorpal doesn't trigger, it still has the theoretical capability to increase the maximum damage possible of any given weapon attack that uses it.

If we are going to pretend that we rolled, instead of actually rolling, then we pretend that we threw the dice and they landed on maximum. That means that we are pretending that all the conditions for Vorpal were just met, and therefore in the pretend scenario, Vorpal would trigger, increasing the maximum possible damage from the attack. Since the Vorpal effect adds more damage to the attack in the form of additional damage rolls, and it doesn't specifically only add them when you crit, it means that these dice aren't specifically required to be rolled (as per the Extra Damage section of Critical Hit in the PHB). This means that we pretend that we rolled them, and that they landed on the maximum possible value, which means that we just pretended that all the required conditions of the Vorpal effect were just met, which increases the maximum possible damage of the attack.

My point is that if we're going to go in to a pretend scenario where we rolled maximum dice, there are two results from that scenario. We go in to find the maximum damage, but while we're there, all the conditions for Vorpal are met (as a side effect). But we're going to act as if this pretend scenario was what actually happened, correct? That's how we take the maximum damage from the pretend event and use it in the actual game, right? If we're going to act as if what we just pretended actually happened, then we're going to act as if all the conditions for Vorpal were met, which means by all definitions that Vorpal will now trigger.

From my understanding, unless we can clarify that it is specifically stated the only thing we take from the "pretend you rolled maximum" is the total damage, and not anything else, then Vorpal shouldn't trigger. But the way I read it, we act as if the thing we pretend happened, did happen - that is to say, ALL of what we just pretended happened - and in this case Vorpal should trigger (and then pretend to be maximised since it isn't extra critical damage, rinse repeat ad nauseum).

No clarification needed, it literally says that. You do not roll. Vorpal requires rolling. Sigh.

The arguments are strong on either side but I find myself leaning towards Vorpal actually causing the attack to instakill.

My opinion is that since Vorpal says you add the additional result to the damage total, the property is just adding more damage to the attack itself. This means that the property of Vorpal is capable of increasing the maximum damage of the attack itself.

Even though Vorpal doesn't trigger, it still has the theoretical capability to increase the maximum damage possible of any given weapon attack that uses it.

If we are going to pretend that we rolled, instead of actually rolling, then we pretend that we threw the dice and they landed on maximum. That means that we are pretending that all the conditions for Vorpal were just met, and therefore in the pretend scenario, Vorpal would trigger, increasing the maximum possible damage from the attack. Since the Vorpal effect adds more damage to the attack in the form of additional damage rolls, and it doesn't specifically only add them when you crit, it means that these dice aren't specifically required to be rolled (as per the Extra Damage section of Critical Hit in the PHB). This means that we pretend that we rolled them, and that they landed on the maximum possible value, which means that we just pretended that all the required conditions of the Vorpal effect were just met, which increases the maximum possible damage of the attack.

My point is that if we're going to go in to a pretend scenario where we rolled maximum dice, there are two results from that scenario. We go in to find the maximum damage, but while we're there, all the conditions for Vorpal are met (as a side effect). But we're going to act as if this pretend scenario was what actually happened, correct? That's how we take the maximum damage from the pretend event and use it in the actual game, right? If we're going to act as if what we just pretended actually happened, then we're going to act as if all the conditions for Vorpal were met, which means by all definitions that Vorpal will now trigger.

From my understanding, unless we can clarify that it is specifically stated the only thing we take from the "pretend you rolled maximum" is the total damage, and not anything else, then Vorpal shouldn't trigger. But the way I read it, we act as if the thing we pretend happened, did happen - that is to say, ALL of what we just pretended happened - and in this case Vorpal should trigger (and then pretend to be maximised since it isn't extra critical damage, rinse repeat ad nauseum).

In which case, they should errata out the Critical portion of the Vorpal property, since there is zero need for it, regardless if the weapon was used as a weapon or implement.  Infinite +6d12 is still infinite after all, and infinite damage is certainly going to kill even enemies with infinite HP.

Until they remove the Critical portion of the Vorpal property, I'm thinking that the RAI is that you don't get an infinite loop on the Vorpal when you crit... or whenever you utilize a feature that lets you roll for maximum damage.

And honestly, we really ought to keep save-or-die-like effects out of the system whenever possible.  Then again, the Vorpal enchantment is Rare and unless you're built to have a very high chance to crit you're only going to insta-kill at 10% chance maximum, so I suppose that even if it were theoretically valid to have Vorpal do insta-kill, it's very easy for a DM to reign it all in: the enchantment cannot be gained in any way other than via DM reward, so he could simply never have the group have it. 

[ I suppose we're in the same barrel of monkeys as Versatile property weapons wielded two-handed, versus game features that trigger off two-handed weapons, except instead of the part where Versatile weapons are still one-handed even if you could wield them two-handed, crits would be non-rolled damage even if you treat them as rolled. Or something like that. ] 
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I know you don't roll. But you pretend you rolled. When you do so, you pretend that Vorpal's conditions are met. If we're going to pretend Vorpal's conditions got met, then Vorpal will trigger.

In which case, they should errata out the Critical portion of the Vorpal property, since there is zero need for it, regardless if the weapon was used as a weapon or implement.  Infinite +6d12 is still infinite after all, and infinite damage is certainly going to kill even enemies with infinite HP.


Thanks for pointing out the obvious. I'm aware of the RAI implications. I'm simply stoking the fire since I think that poorly written as it is, if one were to blindly follow the wording, Vorpal would instakill on crit. Of course I don't think they MEANT to do this.

What's with everyone on these boards getting so uptight? It's all conjecture. I just want to see how it plays out, and I offered my opinion. You can sigh and look down upon the mass stupidity I'm joining in, Alcestis, like some kind of high-horsed judge and jury - and you're allowed to do that all you like - but I actually think it's fun to discuss stuff like this and explore all the possible options, one of which I have detailed above. If you think it's too tedious to argue, or if you think I'm too simple to understand, feel free to make that clear, and then leave. I will stay, and continue to discuss the possibility.

Like I said, I believe that if you pretend you rolled max damage, you're pretending that you're doing the same action that meets Vorpal's requirements. If we then act as if what we just pretended is what actually happened, then we are pretending that Vorpal's requirements are met, and then Vorpal triggers, since it's requirements are met. 
No. Jesus Christ. The sentence before that says you do not roll. No rolling happens. Ever. At any point. The sentence after that, which is a sub-clause and still exists under the restriction that you do not and have not rolled, says to add up the damage as if you had rolled, bearing in that the explicit restriction that you did not actually roll. I feel like everyone who doesn't understand this is failing to understand how clauses work in English, because they are emphasizing the second sentence and ignoring the first. The two are a set. Clause. Sub-clause. That is how English (and, to a large degree, how all languages) work.

Did you roll? No. Does Vorpal require rolling? Yes. Did Vorpal trigger? Nope. 

Ugh. Reading is not this hard.
I've been following this since the Simple Questions forums. At first I was 100% behind Ninja, however, I can see the argument of the other side now too. This rules wording is very strange and unwieldy.

Of course I agree that in reality a vorpal weapon would never deal infinite damage, but in theory I can agree that this interpretation makes sense. I don't understand how you can "not roll" the dice, but still "pretend" (as if you had rolled the dice) to roll them and take some of the bonuses you get for rolling, but not others. Vorpal does not require a physical roll any more than a static bonus does, so I'm confused as to why it gets ignored in the "as if you rolled" clause. If I rolled max, then vorpal triggers. If I rolled damage, then static modifiers are applied. Why treat it as if I rolled if I am not actually rolling, except to get the benefits of things that trigger from rolling? Static modifiers apply to damage rolls, vorpal applies whenever you roll the maximum result on a damage die (roll). Both would seem to trigger IF I had rolled maximum, since I am acting as if I had, then they both trigger in my interpretation of the rules. (which is different enough from Alcestis to cause friction and irritation) I always interpreted the rule to be I calculate as if I had rolled max, so there was no need to actually roll. The new writing is a bit weird to me.

I am of the middle-ground group in this argument, personally. If I am acting "as if" I had rolled maximum damage, then I should at least get to "re-roll" the dice and add them in. I interpret the rules that a 2d10+10 vorpal crit should do 30+2d10 (re-rolling and adding maxes) because we act in all ways as if we had rolled the dice.

As a side note, the vorpal property applies to "all damage die for this weapon" and not specifically to [W] Weapon Dice, should it not apply to the crit dice or high crit dice generated by the weapon? That is how my group has been playing it and since it adds to the fun of the weapon, I doubt we will change it, but I was curious about how this is being interpreted by you guys as well.

(This should be my only post on the subject, since I can see how and why  we are disagreeing. My only hope is that you are able to see the other side of the argument as well, since it's all in the interpretation. Even if the way I am interpreting it is actually wrong, it's more fun and thus, will be how I use it for my games. Hurrah! for D&D being a rules guidlines!)
No. Jesus Christ. The sentence before that says you do not roll. No rolling happens. Ever. At any point. The sentence after that, which is a sub-clause and still exists under the restriction that you do not and have not rolled, says to add up the damage as if you had rolled, bearing in that the explicit restriction that you did not actually roll. I feel like everyone who doesn't understand this is failing to understand how clauses work in English, because they are emphasizing the second sentence and ignoring the first. The two are a set. Clause. Sub-clause. That is how English (and, to a large degree, how all languages) work.

Did you roll? No. Does Vorpal require rolling? Yes. Did Vorpal trigger? Nope. 

Ugh. Reading is not this hard.

Damn. I can see from your post count that you have been here - and have contributed - for a long time... But do you get this upset all the time? I'm not your enemy, I'm just trying to make sense of this for myself (and possibly for others). I think you need to calm down a little, and cut the veiled insults. Like I said if you think you're too frustrated to deal with us, you don't have to, I'm perfectly willing to discuss this with anyone else - nothing requires you to stay if you're going to continue to argue by insulting my reading comprehension. I don't appreciate it in the slightest.

Back to the point at hand, I know you don't roll. I never said you do. I said you pretend you rolled. So lets take this step by step.

Do we pretend we rolled maximum damage dice in order to find the attack's maximum damage?

Do we act as if what we just pretended is what actually happens?

Does rolling maximum damage dice proc Vorpal? (This doesn't need answering, obviously, just putting it in context)

Since we are acting as if we just rolled maximum damage dice, does that mean we are acting as if the requirements for a Vorpal proc were just met? (Since we are acting as if x, and Vorpal triggers off x, and x="rolled max damage dice", this comes down to "act as if we rolled max damage dice"="act as if we rolled max damage dice" - simple substitution)

I think yes on all counts. Since we pretend we rolled max damage, we act as if Vorpal trigger was met, and I think that means that we act as if Vorpal procs. I still don't see why not, even if no physical rolls were made.
I am okay with the "middle ground" interpretation just because I think it's neat. I think there is a strong argument to be made for infinite damage, but it's also very distasteful to me, so I am not bothering defending that particular interpretation at the moment.

What I feel strongly about, though, is that the vorpal property should definitely in some way be factored in to the crit, based on RAW. Was it intended? Probably not. Would I ever allow the infinite damage interpretation into a game? Hell no, I would houserule the crap out of that. But the argument is about whether it's RAW.

@Velkon: I think I have agreed 100% with everything you have written, including your assertion that Alcestis is starting to sound a bit...pompous.

No. Jesus Christ. The sentence before that says you do not roll. No rolling happens. Ever. At any point. The sentence after that, which is a sub-clause and still exists under the restriction that you do not and have not rolled, says to add up the damage as if you had rolled, bearing in that the explicit restriction that you did not actually roll. I feel like everyone who doesn't understand this is failing to understand how clauses work in English, because they are emphasizing the second sentence and ignoring the first. The two are a set. Clause. Sub-clause. That is how English (and, to a large degree, how all languages) work.

Did you roll? No. Does Vorpal require rolling? Yes. Did Vorpal trigger? Nope. 

Ugh. Reading is not this hard.


I was gonna raise some objections to your tone, but Velkon beat me to it. I'm a pretty new member here, but I've been reading the boards without comments for a while, and I know that you are considered Kind Of A Big Deal around this board. But you're being rude, not just in terms of the tone (I actually don't mind that), but the way that you are dismissing people's arguments.

I have repeatedly raised very specific objections to things you've said, and then written out really detailed arguments for my own perspective. I put a lot of thought and also time into every post I've written. However, when you respond, you rarely actually address any of the specific points; most of your replies are just repeating your previous reply, with the same wording, without even touching the objections made by everyone else.

I've tried changing things around, making high-level arguments, low-level arguments, arguments by comparison to other game elements, arguments by directly analyzing the text...you've ignored almost all of them. I'm not going to ask you to go back and reread them, because at this point there've been so many, and going back now would clearly take up a lot of your time. So instead, I will make one new argument. It will be long, and it will be detailed, but that is so that I never skip any steps or hide any assumptions. I will spend a lot of effort on this one argument. Please do me the courtesy of, instead of just repeating yourself and ignoring all of what I wrote, actually telling me the specific place where my argument breaks down - I know you already disagree with my conclusion, but please actually address this particular argument.

Here we go:

I will argue, again, that vorpal should be treated the same way as a bonus to damage rolls. This does not actually establish that vorpal affects crits, but instead I'll try to show that "if you accept damage roll bonuses as part of a crit's base damage, then you must also accept vorpal"...I think for most people that would be sufficient to show that vorpal applies.

Contentions:
1) the trigger for a bonus to damage rolls to apply is as follows: you make a damage roll. This is actually never formally specified, and as such I go with the extremely obvious English understanding of it, which is that a bonus to damage rolls applies if and only if a damage roll is being made.

2)  the trigger for the vorpal property is this: you roll damage AND the damage is from the weapon AND you get the maximum result

Now, we can simplify the vorpal property's trigger for our purposes, because the last two clauses seem to be agreed on. Clearly, the damage is from the weapon, and clearly you have the maximum result (since that's the exact phrase RC 217 uses in the Maximum Damage entry). Let me know if you disagree, but I think everyone is on board that those two parts of it are taken care of in this situation.

So now we have two triggers:
1) for a bonus to damage rolls: you make a damage roll
2) for the vorpal property: you roll your damage

At this point, I can see a couple perspectives. One perspective, is that these two triggers are equivalent: making a damage roll and rolling damage are synonymous. Therefore, either both of them trigger, or neither one does.

The other perspective is that, technically, the wording is slightly different. 1 refers to a "damage roll," which is a noun, and is a specific game element with a specific meaning; 2, on the other hand, uses "rolling" as a verb and as such requires actual rolling of dice, because you are using that verb.

This second perspective is actually more backwards. The wording of Maximum Damage is "Don't make a damage roll [the noun version]. Instead, the target takes damage as if the maximum result had been rolled [the verb version] for damage." So in fact, using that second, stricter perspective, vorpal *does* count whereas bonuses to damage rolls *don't*. Because it specifically forbids the noun version, and specifically says that the verb version does happen (or rather, you pretend it happened for purposes of the damage calculation, but whatever).

I can't see any other reasonable interpretations of what's written. If I missed some relevant passage, or made some crazy logical leap, or whatever else, please let me know. Specifically. Not just that I'm wrong because I came to a different conclusion than you.
No. Jesus Christ... Ugh. Reading is not this hard.

I can see from your post count that you have been here - and have contributed - for a long time... But do you get this upset all the time?

fwiw: I can attest that this is indicative of Alcestis' normal writing style (though I cannot attest to whether he is upset when writing like that).
I got heat from Alcestis myself In any case, I do see why there is conflict with regards to the interpretations on the Vorpal property, and why one side insists that, at least from a theoretical perspective, that the Vorpal property should auto-kill a target.

Compare the PHB version, where the Vorpal property was first published:
Rather than roll damage, determine the maximum damage you can roll with your attack. This is your critical damage. (Attacks that don’t deal damage still don’t deal damage on a critical hit.)



To the RC version:
When an attack scores a critical hit against a target, the target takes the maximum damage possible from the attack. Don't make a damage roll. Instead, the target takes damage as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage. However, attacks that don't deal damage still don't deal damage on a critical hit.



And to the Vorpal property itself:
Whenever you roll the maximum result on any damage die for this weapon, roll that die again and add the additional result to the damage total. If a reroll results in another maximum damage result, roll it again and keep adding.



Frankly, I'm thinking that the issue here is context:  The Vorpal property has so far been updated in terms only of Rarity; apparently the ones in charge of either RC or errata had forgotten to double check the implications of the new wording, which apparently had inadvertently allowed for an infinite Vorpal damage interpretation.

If you look at the Vorpal property within the context of the original wording of the said entry, I'm not so sure you could go for the interpretations as laid out by ThatWasTotallyNinja, because

1. Your critical damage is the maximum damage you could can get, without actually rolling
2. Vorpal requires you roll (for the maximum result before you could get the extra die roll)

At least, that's how I'm seeing it *shrugs*

EDIT: For the most part, the RC is technically clearer in delineating the general concept, although in the case of the Vorpal property it's easy to see why the infinite damage loop could exist if you look at the RC entry without looking at the PHB entry.
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Oh and apparently this isn't the first time "Insta-kill with Vorpal" was brought up: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...


... but the consensus is apparently still the same, regardless of how much you shout "BUT IT'S RAW! IT'S RAW!": No, you don't get infinite damage because of the "maximum damage possible".



Sorry, I didn't actually get around to checking that thread out till now. I'd say that the PotG feature is a lot less clear than the RC wording on crits. "You deal maximum damage" is pretty vague...I actually still think the instakill still applies, but it is not anywhere near as clear-cut, because of the vague wording.

The RC wording, on the other hand, is different. In fact, if you look at the second page of the thread you linked me to, ChaosMage makes a statement that if the wording were like what it says in the RC, then it would be an instakill. So the two threads aren't really discussing the same question.


As for the PHB wording, again, it's too vague to be as sure what to do. But regardless, the wording in the RC is meant to replace that one, so it takes precedence in every way.

Still, as far as I can see, your position is that RAW probably falls on my side but every reasonable way of thinking of what they *meant* to write says that it's not an instakill, right? If that's your position then you and I don't really disagree on anything. 
Let's look at this question from another angle.  Genasi with the Embersoul Manifestation have an ability called Firedeath.  It's used when they take damage.  The effect is "all damage dice rolled for the triggering attack are considered to have a result of 1".

Alright.  So, if you're attacked by a monster whose attack inflicts 2d6+4 damage, then Firedeath causes you to take 6 damage.  That's pretty easy.

But what if the monster crits you?  Do you A) take full damage because damage isn't actually rolled on a crit or B) take 6 damage as if the minimum possible damage was rolled.

If you say A, then it certainly follows that vorpal does not trigger on a critical hit.  But wait!  There's more!

Certain monsters have something very like the brutal quality with their attacks.  The Gnoll Mockery Priest, for example, re-rolls any result of '1' for the damage of their Pain Khopesh attack.  If the Priest attacks, and Firedeath is used in reply to the attack, what happens now?  All damage dice are considered to have rolled '1', but you reroll ones until they come up as 2 or higher.  This either creates an infinite loop, or you have to accept that 'considered to have rolled' is not the same as 'actually rolling dice'.  In other words, Firedeath wins, because you didn't actually roll anything; you replace the result of the roll with X, which in this case is the minimum possible damage.

Vorpal triggers when you are fortunate enough to physically roll the maximum result on a damage die.  If you are told to replace a die roll with a set amount of damage, be it maximum or minimum, Vorpal doesn't trigger.

To use the 2d10+10 example, if you attack and roll damage, any d10 that rolls a 10 can 'explode' for additional damage.  But if I tell you "no, replace your damage roll with X" (no matter what the result of X is), that isn't the same as if you physically rolled the dice.            
"You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies." -The Doctor, Remembrance of the Daleks
Let's look at this question from another angle.  Genasi with the Embersoul Manifestation have an ability called Firedeath.  It's used when they take damage.  The effect is "all damage dice rolled for the triggering attack are considered to have a result of 1".

Alright.  So, if you're attacked by a monster whose attack inflicts 2d6+4 damage, then Firedeath causes you to take 6 damage.  That's pretty easy.

But what if the monster crits you?  Do you A) take full damage because damage isn't actually rolled on a crit or B) take 6 damage as if the minimum possible damage was rolled.

If you say A, then it certainly follows that vorpal does not trigger on a critical hit.  But wait!  There's more!

Certain monsters have something very like the brutal quality with their attacks.  The Gnoll Mockery Priest, for example, re-rolls any result of '1' for the damage of their Pain Khopesh attack.  If the Priest attacks, and Firedeath is used in reply to the attack, what happens now?  All damage dice are considered to have rolled '1', but you reroll ones until they come up as 2 or higher.  This either creates an infinite loop, or you have to accept that 'considered to have rolled' is not the same as 'actually rolling dice'.  In other words, Firedeath wins, because you didn't actually roll anything; you replace the result of the roll with X, which in this case is the minimum possible damage.

Vorpal triggers when you are fortunate enough to physically roll the maximum result on a damage die.  If you are told to replace a die roll with a set amount of damage, be it maximum or minimum, Vorpal doesn't trigger.

To use the 2d10+10 example, if you attack and roll damage, any d10 that rolls a 10 can 'explode' for additional damage.  But if I tell you "no, replace your damage roll with X" (no matter what the result of X is), that isn't the same as if you physically rolled the dice.            


If you said to replace a die roll with it's maximum damage, I agree, that doesn't trigger vorpal. If you said to treat the die roll as if the maximum result was rolled, that might sound the same at first, but it is not. That version (which is what is said in Ancient Forebears' Rage, for example) would trigger vorpal. This is actually something that the forum generally agrees on (lots of builds using that power I named for crazy damage)...obviously the fact that the forum agrees doesn't make it correct automatically, but it does suggest that you should look more closely at the argument just in case.


In regard to your Firedeath+brutal example, the answer is again a detail in the wording. Firedeath doesn't say, "act as though you rolled a 1". It says that the result of that die roll is a 1. It might seem nitpicky, but it's different. As it is written, here's what happens: you roll the dice. Maybe you even reroll some of them because of brutal. You have a bunch of dice with different numbers on them, all greater than 1. Now, you ignore every one of those numbers, and use "1" instead. That's what it means for the result of the die roll to be "1"...in the end, it is a 1.


And then again, I say A for your hypothetical, but it's not inconsistent. Like I've written earlier in this thread: vorpal does not actually trigger. But when you calculate damage for the attack, you do so as if vorpal triggered, so you still get to add in that effect...but vorpal never genuinely triggered. You are calculating your damage *as if* you made a damage roll; you're not rolling any damage dice.

Firedeath's damage reduction does not trigger because the timing is different. It shows up after damage was already calculated, and says "all the dice you rolled in that calculation are a 1" (we didn't roll any dice). Vorpal is in effect when you are calculating the damage in the first place.

If Firedeath was instead an effect on the creature, like "until the end of your next turn, all damage dice you roll are considered to have a result of 1", then I actually think it would affect crits, because the crit language refers to the maximum result you could get, and at that moment because of this effect you are under, the maximum result is different than normal (the maximum result is 1 on each die, because that is the only result you can get according to the effect). But this is getting kind of off-topic.

...I had to think about that last one for a minute. Good point. 
As a side note because comparing vorpal damage to static damage has been addressed in this thread.  I don't know what the rewritten rule states, but a damage roll specifically states that damage from a feat, racial, and enhancement damage is included in a damage roll.  So when you take maximum damage on a crit you are taking the value of a maximum damage roll, which RAW states includes all the static damage.  As has been pointed out a vorpal weapon would have no reason to include a +1d12 per plus on a critical hit if RAW was meant to mean a vorpal crit was instakill.  Instead the crit line of the vorpal weapon would just state instakill instead of providing bonus damage.  Now I can definately see the argument for a houserule or RAI or maybe even RAW that a vorpal weapon making a critical hit would also be able to roll an additional die for each die that would have been rolled for maximum damage as well as the 6d12 bonus damage.  So the most a vorpal weapon user at my table would be able to possibly argue that they can do is take max base damage say 3(w) + str with a 1d12 weapon, they would at best be able to argue they get 36 + str + 9d12 + however many of those are 12s + how ever many of those are 12s + etc.  It isn't like a vorpal weapon is going to come cheap or handed to everyone or even that a vorpal weapon is going to crit every encounter.  I would never allow it to be ruled as instakill no matter how compelling the argument.  If it became ruled as instakill somehow at my table I would have it stolen and no other vorpal blade would ever show up in one of my campaigns ever again.  All you need to do is have a campaign build up to fighting a god and have that vorpal weapon crit in the first round to ruin all the fun for the night.
Hmm, that Embersoul thingy sure is something I just hope he doesn't have to deal with an enemy that has a brutal 1 weapon...

[ Not really part of the topic, just noticed it :P ] 
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This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Allow me to throw a monkey wrench into the works.  The arguement is that you didn't actually roll damage, therefore Vorpal doesn't trigger.  If this position is true, then a lot of other things become broken.  The phrasing below is "the target takes damage as if the maximum results had been rolled".

You need the first sentence. First sentence: You do not roll. Then "as if". The as if sentence is modifying the sentence that says you do not actually roll, instead you pretend that you rolled. The example is not applicable because those say "as if" without any restrictions. In this case there is a restriction. So you get to pretend you rolled in all ways except that you didn't actually roll. That is how a clause and sub-clause work.



There is no difference between the following:

Effect: Heal as if you had spent a healing surge.


Effect: Do not spend a healing surge.  Instead, heal as if you had spent a healing surge.



Why you ask?  Because "Do not spend a healing surge" is implied in the first wording.  It's not explicitly called out, but I'm pretty sure we all agree that you don't actually spend a surge even though it's not written.  Therefore, the only difference I see in those two lines is the absence (or presence) of the explicit text.  How you can read that as a "restriction" is beyond me.


*snip*
Why you ask?  Because "Do not spend a healing surge" is implied in the first wording.  It's not explicitly called out, but I'm pretty sure we all agree that you don't actually spend a surge even though it's not written.  Therefore, the only difference I see in those two lines is the absence (or presence) of the explicit text.  How you can read that as a "restriction" is beyond me.


This is my understanding exactly.

As a side note because comparing vorpal damage to static damage has been addressed in this thread.  I don't know what the rewritten rule states, but a damage roll specifically states that damage from a feat, racial, and enhancement damage is included in a damage roll.  So when you take maximum damage on a crit you are taking the value of a maximum damage roll, which RAW states includes all the static damage.


Exactly. Damage Roll requires static mods. But you're not rolling, which is the argument made against Vorpal triggering. Since you aren't rolling, they aren't added. By this logic, if you aren't rolling, you don't get static mods either, since nothing in the Crit entry says to add static mods.
EDIT: Just wanted to add that even if this argument works against Vorpal triggering, we aren't even arguing that Vorpal actually triggers at all. We're arguing that we're being told to act as if Vorpal had triggered. Subtle difference.

As has been pointed out a vorpal weapon would have no reason to include a +1d12 per plus on a critical hit if RAW was meant to mean a vorpal crit was instakill.  Instead the crit line of the vorpal weapon would just state instakill instead of providing bonus damage.  Now I can definately see the argument for a houserule or RAI or maybe even RAW that a vorpal weapon making a critical hit would also be able to roll an additional die for each die that would have been rolled for maximum damage as well as the 6d12 bonus damage.  So the most a vorpal weapon user at my table would be able to possibly argue that they can do is take max base damage say 3(w) + str with a 1d12 weapon, they would at best be able to argue they get 36 + str + 9d12 + however many of those are 12s + how ever many of those are 12s + etc.  It isn't like a vorpal weapon is going to come cheap or handed to everyone or even that a vorpal weapon is going to crit every encounter.  I would never allow it to be ruled as instakill no matter how compelling the argument.  If it became ruled as instakill somehow at my table I would have it stolen and no other vorpal blade would ever show up in one of my campaigns ever again.  All you need to do is have a campaign build up to fighting a god and have that vorpal weapon crit in the first round to ruin all the fun for the night.


This is, again, my understanding exactly. The RAI is pretty clear - especially when compared to the PHB version of a crit, since it doesn't say "as if you rolled". If we were using the PHB version of critical hit, there would be no doubt. It is absolutely clear to all parties involved that we are discussing the minutae of RAW and that none of us really intend to apply "one crit one kill" to the Vorpal weapon. I personally don't really plan on picking up a Vorpal weapon anyway, seems overrated. I've got other ways to kill Gods.
The Vorpal Property never trigger on a Crit because it specifically require that you roll, something you never do when you Crit because the target takes damage as if the maximum had been rolled.

Whenever you roll cannot trigger when you don't roll, even when pretending as if maximum result has been rolled, because the Vorpal require to roll in the first place. 

Otherwise the Vorpal would have been in the Handbook of Broken a long time ago. Wink

Property: Whenever you roll the maximum result on any damage die for this weapon, roll that die again and add the additional result to the damage total.

Critical Hit: When an attack scores a critical hit against a target, the target takes the maximum damage possible from the attack. Don't make a damage roll. Instead, the target takes damage as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage. However, attacks that don't deal damage still don't deal damage on a critical hit.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

So why do static mods apply to a crit, when you do not make a damage roll? I'm sure there's probably something, but I can't find it - all I see is that Vorpal triggers when you roll, and you add static mods when you roll.
Because a damage roll doesn't necessarly have to be systematically rolled for all modifiers to apply to it.

In a Hit: 2d10+10, the +10 (damage modifier) is already factored in wether the 2d10 are rolled or the target take damage as if the maximum had been rolled for them.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Because a damage roll doesn't necessarly have to be systematically rolled for all modifiers to apply to it.

In a Hit: 2d10+10, the +10 (damage modifier) is already factored in wether the 2d10 are rolled or the target take damage as if the maximum had been rolled for them.



Plague, since Alcestis seems to have given up on this debate and you seem to agree with his position, could you kindly address my point.  Mind you I'm not arguing that infinite damage is possible, but I don't see how Vorpal doesn't trigger (at least once - RAW) on a crit based on my analogy to surges.  And really I'm not interested in debating if it should or shouldn't be infinite, because no DM is going to allow that RAW or otherwise.

Plague, since Alcestis seems to have given up on this debate and you seem to agree with his position, could you kindly address my point.  Mind you I'm not arguing that infinite damage is possible, but I don't see how Vorpal doesn't trigger (at least once - RAW) on a crit based on my analogy to surges.  And really I'm not interested in debating if it should or shouldn't be infinite, because no DM is going to allow that RAW or otherwise.



Sure.   (IMO a Collar of Recovery doesn't trigger with Cure Light Wounds because no Surge is spent).   

For your analogy with Surges, a comparable would go as follow:

If a game effect let you regain HP as if you had spent a Healing Surge, it won't trigger anything else that trigger upon spending an Healing Surge because you never did spent one, you simply regained HP as if you had spent one.

Comparatively, If a game effect let you deal damage as if the maximum result had been rolled for damage instead of rolling, it won't trigger anything else that trigger upon rolling the maximum result with a damage dice  because you never did rolled one, you simply dealt damage as if the maximum had been rolled instead of rolling dice.

  


Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter