D&D 4e Rules I got Wrong

Probably a recurring theme, but here’s the first 4th edition D&D rule that we’ve been doing wrong

1. You only roll once to attack, even when you’re about to Critical.

It looks like we skimmed the rules around this section, or we read them and then forgot them, or we just plain got them confused.  When you roll to attack, if you roll a 20* then you automatically hit.  You also have the chance to cause a critical hit.  The determination of whether it’s a critical hit is simple.  Does your total attack roll score enough to hit.  If it does, you criticalled, if it doesn’t you still hit, but for regular damage.

So if the enemy AC is 23, and you roll 20, and add 2 for a total of 22, you hit but don’t crit, if your total turned out to be 24, you would have caused a crit instead.  This gives you the chance to hit something 1 in 20 times that you might never otherwise be able to hit, and also gives you an increasing chance to crit against creatures as you increase your attack bonuses off of that automatic hit.

Let me know if I’m still wrong 😉

* A 20 is always an automatic hit, some weapons have an increase critical hit range (19-20), if you roll a 19 and the total is enough to hit, you crit, but if you roll a 19 and the total is not enough to hit, you miss and don’t crit.  Only a natural 20 is enough to automatically hit, no matter what the weapon.

4 thoughts on “D&D 4e Rules I got Wrong”

  1. I don’t have the books, but based on the quickstart and the PA/PVP podcasts, I thought “natural 20 = crit” no matter what.

    But I’m confused about your statement of the rule. What does a crit have to do with a second attack roll? It just means you automatically do max damage to that target.

    1. We were getting it confused with the 3e rule, where a 20 means you threaten a critical and another roll determines if you actually crit or not. A natural 20 is only a crit in 4e if the total attack roll including the 20 is enough to hit. So if the enemy has an AC of 25, and your total attack roll is 24, even with a natural 20, you only automatically hit, you don’t crit.

  2. We just started a D&D 4e game, and after playing through a 3 hour battle where no one was hitting anything (because you generally had to roll 15 or higher on D20, so only 1 out of 4 attack might hit, but everyone was rolling terribly), everyone is now thoroughly jaded against continuing. I’d like to think this was just a fluke, but the numbers strongly suggest you’re gonna spend most of your time swinging your sword at thin air.

    1. Hmm, that doesn’t really match my experience. What were you up against? With a decent selection of powers and stats you should be adding +3 to +5 to your rolls, which would mean even against AC 15 you only need to roll 10-12. I’ve not got the MM in front of me so can’t remember off-hand the AC of some 1st level creatures but I don’t recall it being that high.

      In fact, I’ll go look …

      Goblins (typical first level type bad guys) are mostly AC16 / AC17. If you have a first level Fighter with STR of 15 that’s +2 to the attack roll, add in proficiency with their longsword and that’s another +3, if they picked One Handed as their Fighter Weapon Talent that’s another +1, so they’re adding +6 to their attack rolls meaning they need a 10 or 11 to hit. On top of that, you should be trying to flank the enemy for another +2 bonus to reduce the roll to an 8 (tactical position is critical in 4th ed. hence many of the powers have a move component).

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