Natural 20 successes.

41 posts / 0 new
Last post
I am not finding alot about the rolls of Natural 20's.  I am being told by the old DM who is now a player that naturals are automatic successes on everything.  For example.  On a perception check there is nothing he does not see, hear or smell even if it does not seem logical that he knows all.  Or a Paladin sees him commit a murder and rolls a 20 on a diplomacy check to see if he can talk him into letting him go and thus should be given a free pass.  This does not make sense to me so I was wondering if someone can give me clarification.  The only thing I see is that it is an automatic hit in a fight.  Which doesn't make much sense because if you need more than a roll of 20 to hit something you should not be fighting it.
Nat 20 is only an automatic success in the sense that it's an automatic hit when making attack rolls.
Nat 1 is only an automatic failure in the sense that it's an automatic miss when making attack rolls.

There are no automatic results for any other d20 rolls.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Your DM is wrong.  A natural 20 is only an automatic success on attack rolls.  Skill rolls do not automatically succeed on a natural 20, nor do they automatically fail on a natural 1.  If the DC for a task is 10, and you have +9 modifier, you simply succeed; there is no need to roll.

As far as your last point goes, it's possible to be on the recieving end of a lot of attack roll penalties (or your target has lots of defense bonuses) that make a natural 20 necessary.  Blinded is a -5, for example, and lots of other things could add onto that.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Your DM is wrong.  A natural 20 is only an automatic success on attack rolls.  Skill rolls do not automatically succeed on a natural 20, nor do they automatically fail on a natural 1.  If the DC for a task is 10, and you have +9 modifier, you simply succeed; there is no need to roll.

As far as your last point goes, it's possible to be on the recieving end of a lot of attack roll penalties (or your target has lots of defense bonuses) that make a natural 20 necessary.  Blinded is a -5, for example, and lots of other things could add onto that.

Thanks I hadn't thought of that.  


Is it possible he is getting those rules from an earlier edition?

Very possible, yes. 
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Your DM is wrong.  A natural 20 is only an automatic success on attack rolls.  Skill rolls do not automatically succeed on a natural 20, nor do they automatically fail on a natural 1.  If the DC for a task is 10, and you have +9 modifier, you simply succeed; there is no need to roll.

As far as your last point goes, it's possible to be on the recieving end of a lot of attack roll penalties (or your target has lots of defense bonuses) that make a natural 20 necessary.  Blinded is a -5, for example, and lots of other things could add onto that.

Thanks I hadn't thought of that.  


Is it possible he is getting those rules from an earlier edition?




Not really. 1's and 20's weren't auto success/failure on skills in 3e, either. D&D didn't really have skills before then.
If rolling a 20 on a skill check still fail either your DM miss figured the difficulty or your character should never have attempeted it in the first place.

"the athsmatic, 90lbs weakling is going to do what?"
The sea looks at the stabillity of the mountian and sighs. The mountian watches the freedom of the sea and cries.
Your DM is wrong.  A natural 20 is only an automatic success on attack rolls.  Skill rolls do not automatically succeed on a natural 20, nor do they automatically fail on a natural 1.  If the DC for a task is 10, and you have +9 modifier, you simply succeed; there is no need to roll.

As far as your last point goes, it's possible to be on the recieving end of a lot of attack roll penalties (or your target has lots of defense bonuses) that make a natural 20 necessary.  Blinded is a -5, for example, and lots of other things could add onto that.

Thanks I hadn't thought of that.  


Is it possible he is getting those rules from an earlier edition?




Not really. 1's and 20's weren't auto success/failure on skills in 3e, either. D&D didn't really have skills before then.

I think many people house ruled auto-success/failure for skill checks in 3.5, or also just didn't understand the rule correctly then either, so this former DM may be remembering a house rule that he forgot was a house rule.

One exception to the automatic hit rule on a roll of of 20 in my games.   Let's say a level 5 party were to meet up with somone like Balor, a level 28 demi-god.   If they were to foolishly attack him, and used a daily power with a knockout ability, there's no way I'd allow that knockout to succeed, I don't care what they rolled.

As a DM, I'm never going to allow rules to just stomp all over logic.   If you're a slave to the rules as a DM, you're a poor DM, no exceptions.
This is precisely why epic badasses tend to have 'immune to creatures below level 20' in their statblocks.

If, as a DM, you're even allowing attack rolls from level 5 PCs versus epic monsters, you're probably doing it wrongly...
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
One exception to the automatic hit rule on a roll of of 20 in my games.   Let's say a level 5 party were to meet up with somone like Balor, a level 28 demi-god.   If they were to foolishly attack him, and used a daily power with a knockout ability, there's no way I'd allow that knockout to succeed, I don't care what they rolled.

As a DM, I'm never going to allow rules to just stomp all over logic.   If you're a slave to the rules as a DM, you're a poor DM, no exceptions.

If you're throwing a level 5 party up against a level 28th demi-god, you're a poor DM, no exceptions.

Wait, you mean that some people might find ridiculously unbalanced encounters fun?  And some people might find following the rules to the letter fun?  And neither of those things necessarily means you have a bad DM? 

Well I'll be ... you learn something new every day.

Anyway, since this is rules Q&A, one other thing to keep in mind is that a natural 20 on an attack is always a hit, but it is only a critical hit if the attack roll is high enough to hit the creature's defense.  In other words, if you need a 50 to hit a monster and you roll a 20 plus a 19 bonus (39) for your attack roll, you still hit the monster, but it's not a critical hit.  That kind of situation should rarely occur, however, and is usually because someone got a whole bunch of penalties stacked up on them or is fighting a creature that is far above their own level.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

This is precisely why epic badasses tend to have 'immune to creatures below level 20' in their statblocks.

Actually only deities and primordials have that. "ordinary" epic creatures are vulnerable to such lucky rolls

One exception to the automatic hit rule on a roll of of 20 in my games.   Let's say a level 5 party were to meet up with somone like Balor, a level 28 demi-god.   If they were to foolishly attack him, and used a daily power with a knockout ability, there's no way I'd allow that knockout to succeed, I don't care what they rolled.

As a DM, I'm never going to allow rules to just stomp all over logic.   If you're a slave to the rules as a DM, you're a poor DM, no exceptions.

If you're throwing a level 5 party up against a level 28th demi-god, you're a poor DM, no exceptions.

Wait, you mean that some people might find ridiculously unbalanced encounters fun?  And some people might find following the rules to the letter fun?  And neither of those things necessarily means you have a bad DM? 

Well I'll be ... you learn something new every day.

Anyway, since this is rules Q&A, one other thing to keep in mind is that a natural 20 on an attack is always a hit, but it is only a critical hit if the attack roll is high enough to hit the creature's defense.  In other words, if you need a 50 to hit a monster and you roll a 20 plus a 19 bonus (39) for your attack roll, you still hit the monster, but it's not a critical hit.  That kind of situation should rarely occur, however, and is usually because someone got a whole bunch of penalties stacked up on them or is fighting a creature that is far above their own level.



[Edited]

However, there can be perfectly acceptable reasons why a low level party might encounter much, much higher (or lower) level creatures.   In fact, this should happen on occasion, to give them a sense that there are other much more (or less) powerful beings and forces in the world.   It doesn't revolve around their level.

ANY DM who slavishly follows all the rules, all the time, is a poor DM.  Period.





One exception to the automatic hit rule on a roll of of 20 in my games.   Let's say a level 5 party were to meet up with somone like Balor, a level 28 demi-god.   If they were to foolishly attack him, and used a daily power with a knockout ability, there's no way I'd allow that knockout to succeed, I don't care what they rolled.

As a DM, I'm never going to allow rules to just stomp all over logic.   If you're a slave to the rules as a DM, you're a poor DM, no exceptions.

If you're throwing a level 5 party up against a level 28th demi-god, you're a poor DM, no exceptions.

Wait, you mean that some people might find ridiculously unbalanced encounters fun?  And some people might find following the rules to the letter fun?  And neither of those things necessarily means you have a bad DM? 

Well I'll be ... you learn something new every day.

Anyway, since this is rules Q&A, one other thing to keep in mind is that a natural 20 on an attack is always a hit, but it is only a critical hit if the attack roll is high enough to hit the creature's defense.  In other words, if you need a 50 to hit a monster and you roll a 20 plus a 19 bonus (39) for your attack roll, you still hit the monster, but it's not a critical hit.  That kind of situation should rarely occur, however, and is usually because someone got a whole bunch of penalties stacked up on them or is fighting a creature that is far above their own level.



[Edited]

However, there can be perfectly acceptable reasons why a low level party might encounter much, much higher (or lower) level creatures.   In fact, this should happen on occasion, to give them a sense that there are other much more (or less) powerful beings and forces in the world.   It doesn't revolve around their level.

ANY DM who slavishly follows all the rules, all the time, is a poor DM.  Period.








As a combat encounter? No. That's just the DM killing the players. Just have rocks drop on them instead. If he's there giving them a quest to do or something and they foolishly decide to attack him, that's different.

So....every sanctioned game event or LFR game innately has bad DMs. Gotcha.
TIC responses aside... a lot of them have somewhat iffy writers.  I know of not a single one where you face a threat two tiers above your level, and can actually make attack rolls against it.  I've seen a couple where such threats are terrain set-pieces, but none where you can have any particular impact on them whatsoever.

Did you have a particular mod in mind?
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
So....every sanctioned game event or LFR game innately has bad DMs. Gotcha.


Well, yeah.  Because LFR games and other organized play give basically no freedom to the DM.  A LFR DM could be replaced by a computer and still be mostly the same experience.

But that's a nature of organized play, rather than the DMs who run it.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
LFR games and other organized play give basically no freedom to the DM.  A LFR DM could be replaced by a computer and still be mostly the same experience.

Dude?!... Proud LFR DM here. Proud of 'slavishly' following the rules, and in making those rules do what I want. Besides, rules are for the player's benefit (since without rules, the DM can do whatever he wants anyway). And DM's can easily wipe 5th level PC's with a Balor, even if the players got a lucky shot in (and if they somehow got lots of ridiculously lucky shots in, well, why break the rules to deprive them of a great story?). How'd we get on this topic, anyway?

LFR games and other organized play give basically no freedom to the DM.  A LFR DM could be replaced by a computer and still be mostly the same experience.

Dude?!... Proud LFR DM here. Proud of following the rules, and in making those rules do what I want. Besides, rules are for the player's benefit (since without rules, the DM can do whatever he wants anyway). And DM's can easily wipe 5th level PC's with a Balor, even if the players got a lucky shot in (and if they somehow got lots of ridiculously lucky shots in, well, why break the rules to deprive them of a great story?). How'd we get on this topic, anyway?



Don't get me wrong, I greatly enjoy LFR games and have nothing but appreciation for those who run them.

But that doesn't mean I can't see and recognize both the strengths and weaknesses of organized play, in general.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Don't get me wrong, I greatly enjoy LFR games and have nothing but appreciation for those who run them.

But that doesn't mean I can't see and recognize both the strengths and weaknesses of organized play, in general.

;) Fair enough
To be fair though, the rules do contain things like: DMG p.42, "Saying Yes", and using any skill in a skill challenge. The DM following the rules shouldn't really limit to the players (indeed, it can allow them more freedom). Plot-wise though, yeah: we can expect LFR to have built in restrictions.

As an aside, I know of one instance where rolling a '20' on a skill check results in a success, no matter what (and actually, TWO successes, no less), the Skill Mastery feature of the Thief, gained at level 2.  Which is interesting in that you don't actually need to hit the required DC- what's that, making a Hard DC Arcana check and you have +0?  Bah, roll a 20, 2 successes on the Skill Challenge.  ^_^
"You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies." -The Doctor, Remembrance of the Daleks
 I've removed content from this thread because Trolling/Baiting is a violation of the Code of Conduct.  You can review the Code of Conduct here: www.wizards.com/Company/About.aspx?x=wz_...

Please keep your posts polite, respectful, and on-topic, and refrain from making personal attacks.  
As an aside, I know of one instance where rolling a '20' on a skill check results in a success, no matter what (and actually, TWO successes, no less), the Skill Mastery feature of the Thief, gained at level 2.  Which is interesting in that you don't actually need to hit the required DC- what's that, making a Hard DC Arcana check and you have +0?  Bah, roll a 20, 2 successes on the Skill Challenge.  ^_^

Huh!  Never knew about that one (looks it up).  Neato.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

Dude?!... Proud LFR DM here. Proud of 'slavishly' following the rules, and in making those rules do what I want. Besides, rules are for the player's benefit (since without rules, the DM can do whatever he wants anyway).

You win 1000 internets, sir.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

However, there can be perfectly acceptable reasons why a low level party might encounter much, much higher (or lower) level creatures.   In fact, this should happen on occasion, to give them a sense that there are other much more (or less) powerful beings and forces in the world.   It doesn't revolve around their level.

As a combat encounter? No. That's just the DM killing the players.

Why do you assume the DM intended it to be a combat encounter?
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
I did something rather similar recently, in which case I introduced my players to a friendly brass dragon.

I mean, they could have decided to shoot him in the face.  I wouldn't be a bad DM for having the lizard eat them for their impudence.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
However, there can be perfectly acceptable reasons why a low level party might encounter much, much higher (or lower) level creatures.   In fact, this should happen on occasion, to give them a sense that there are other much more (or less) powerful beings and forces in the world.   It doesn't revolve around their level.

As a combat encounter? No. That's just the DM killing the players.

Why do you assume the DM intended it to be a combat encounter?



I didn't.... for some reason, I got moderated and then it got put back in. The rest basically says that if it was a roleplay scenario where he was giving them a task or a quest or something, and they foolishly decided to attack him, that's different.
I did something rather similar recently, in which case I introduced my players to a friendly brass dragon.

I mean, they could have decided to shoot him in the face.  I wouldn't be a bad DM for having the lizard eat them for their impudence.

Just don't introduce them to a gazebo.
I did something rather similar recently, in which case I introduced my players to a friendly brass dragon.

I mean, they could have decided to shoot him in the face.  I wouldn't be a bad DM for having the lizard eat them for their impudence.

Just don't introduce them to a gazebo.



I did something rather similar recently, in which case I introduced my players to a friendly brass dragon.

I mean, they could have decided to shoot him in the face.  I wouldn't be a bad DM for having the lizard eat them for their impudence.


Not specially.  However, doing it as a combat encounter with a 28th level dragon and 5th level PCs WOULD be bad DMing.

Maybe 4 or 5 levels above them, if you really want it to test them in actual combat.  But any more than that, and it's better done as a skill challenge, or simply 'no, you can't hurt it, everything you try simply bounces off, and it smacks the heck out of you'.  Or you run it as the same above-level encounter, with the thing getting peeved once it gets damaged a bit, at which point, encounter over.  Etc etc etc.

Putting heroic tier PCs through a normal combat encounter against Epic tier monsters is never good DMing.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
My point is that the DM isn't the only one who gets to decide what is and is not a combat encounter.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Putting heroic tier PCs through a normal combat encounter against Epic tier monsters is never good DMing.

Unless the players actually want that (which can be an indication that you previously haven't been a good DM).

Putting heroic tier PCs through a normal combat encounter against Epic tier monsters is never good DMing.

Unless the players actually want that (which can be an indication that you previously haven't been a good DM).



No, I'd argue that even if the players want to do it, it's still bad DMing.  I'd not argue that bad DMing is never fun.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
I've actually been in a game where the DM had us face an enemy far ahead of us in power as part of a "run like hell" Skill Challenge.  We were allowed to use powers against it (or try to) to slow it down, while other characters made Skill checks to advance the plot.

Skill challenges to deal with threats the players cannot directly face are part of the game.  In the Scales of War adventure path, I recall a skill challenge to escape a crumbling glacier, where, if you fail, you most likely die.  Or, in a similar vein, the combat in CALI 3-3 where you have to outrun an oncoming sandstorm. 

The trick is to present the combat in a way where it's obvious to the players that a direct confrontation will get them killed, and not make them feel like they're trapped and have no choice but to fight.  Failing either one of these WILL result in a TPK unless you seriously fudge things. 

Some people do not like the "unwinnable scenario" and will buck it like James T. Kirk, desperately trying to find a way to "win".  If you have players like this, they won't accept their defeat gracefully, no matter how much you say "but you weren't supposed to fight it!".

It's not bad DMing to use a challenge like this, but you can DM it badly (by either not presenting it correctly, or failing to "know your players", which is one of the most important rules of DMing).

What I do, personally, when I feel like presenting a scenario like this, is I take a high level monster, scale it down to something reasonable but still tough (like, say, level +1 or +2), turn it into a solo and ratchet up the hit points.  That way, it seems to be unbeatable, but if the party digs in their heels, they can, after a hard battle, defeat it.  They get the ego boost of "beating the DM", and the game rolls on.            
"You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies." -The Doctor, Remembrance of the Daleks
I'd argue that even if the players want to do it, it's still bad DMing.

Sometimes players do stupid things, knowing full well it should have bad consequences. I feel that fudging (removing) those consequences effectively railroads the players and sets a precedence that nothing bad can ever happen (potentially causing player apathy). I prefer "are you sure?" over "you can't do that".
 
"Well, it does have stats." 
"Can I attack it?"

"Yes.  You annoy it, nothing more."

"Can I keep attacking it?"

"Yes, but if you keep annoying it, it will break you.  You are a level 5 adventurer, that's freaking Orcus."
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
I've intentionally thrown a dragon in the path of the adventurers in the beginning of my home campaign when they were level 1, I think it was level 9 or something.  I did this deliberately because I wanted to set the tone that you didn't always need to kill everything, I wanted a more open ended story based game, I try to always have everything set up for a possible combat but allow for quite a lot of things to be solved by alternate methods if they can come up with something.  The problem with this is I knew 1 of the players very much just wanted to bash the face in of everything he encountered, so I needed to teach him a lesson.  Round 1, dragon sits there talking, the barbarian charges the dragon and misses, round 2 dragon unleashes a close burst 10 fear that stuns everyone then action points to continue telling his story, round 3 barbarian gets literally tied up by the rest of the party and told to stay put.
"Can I attack it?"
"Yes.  You annoy it, nothing more."
"Can I keep attacking it?"
"Yes, but if you keep annoying it, it will break you.  You are a level 5 adventurer, that's freaking Orcus."

See now: I dislike DM's that do this. They remove all player choice and conseqences, and cause such silly/bored players to become even worse. Better if the DM, after confirming that the player was serious, pulled out the Epic stats and rolled init. Then at least the silly/bored player will have it out of his system... and the other players will feel there is some 'justice', and danger, in the game.
"I keep attacking it"

"You lose two healing surges as it casually backhands you away and keeps right on with the conversation without apparent notice."

This sort of thing is a roleplaying encounter, a Skill Challenge at best.  Putting people up against the stats is disingenuous, and asking for a boring, tiresome time of them missing, you killing them, and nothing much else happening.  You might just as well play it out using your imaginations, rather than dice.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
"I keep attacking it"

"You lose two healing surges as it casually backhands you away and keeps right on with the conversation without apparent notice."

Again, this might be viewed as railroading and ignoring the rules (which some players may resent). You also still have the problem of a bored player, and the other players might now also resent that the offending PC is not dead like he should be. Orcus is not known for his patience. I acknowledge that this is a subjective issue... so your method might indeed even be preferred by some players... but I'm trying to explain how it might be a sub-par for many more.
If it's actually Orcus, I'd go with dead.  Or, just, you know, Orcus, IIRC, has an aura that would kill any 5th level PC in about 2 rounds anyway.  That mechanic, I'd probably utilise (were I forced into the stuation in the first place, which I'd do my very best to avoid).

But the attack rolls, would just be pure time wasting.

If your players are bored, then you should entertain them.  Maybe on the right day, with the right group, letting 5th level PCs try to wail on Orcus could be entertaining.  I don't argue with that.

But entertain them in a way which isn't pointless.  If you want to kill them, just kill them.  Drawing it out by playing through half an hour of a fight 23 levels too high is pointless and frankly mean-spirited.  There's a reason there's an XP budget.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Sign In to post comments