Conflicting Rules About Natural 20s


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Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

OK. This is confusing. There appears to be 2 conflicting rules listed about Natural 20s in the Rulebook.

On page 8:

Quote:
Rolling 20 is better! Rolling a 20 on the die means you critically succeed, which often has a greater effect than normal. You also gain a critical success if your total meets or exceeds the Difficulty Class by 10 or more. More about critical successes is on page 292.
On page 292:
Quote:

Success and Critical Success

If your result is equal to or greater than the DC, you succeed and apply any success effect (or generally achieve what you set out to do). However, if you succeed and rolled a 20 on the die (often called a “natural 20”), or if your result is equal to or greater than the DC plus 10, you critically succeed. You apply the critical success effect instead of the success effect. If the critical success was an attack roll, it is sometimes called a critical hit.

So, which is correct?

Senior Designer

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Both are correct, but the second is more correct. What the first section is missing is "if you succeeded and rolled a 20 on the die" If a 20 would not normally succeed for you, which is extremely rare and usually outside the typical benchmarks of encounter or challenge design, but you roll a 20 on the die, it would be a success rather than a critical success.


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Stephen Radney-MacFarland wrote:
Both are correct, but the second is more correct. What the first section is missing is "if you succeeded and rolled a 20 on the die" If a 20 would not normally succeed for you, which is extremely rare and usually outside the typical benchmarks of encounter or challenge design, but you roll a 20 on the die, it would be a success rather than a critical success.

Third attacks (with the -10 penalty) will often require more than a 20 roll. So in this case when a natural 20 is rolled, it is a hit and not a critical hit?

Senior Designer

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Kerobelis wrote:
Third attacks (with the -10 penalty) will often require more than a 20 roll. So in this case when a natural 20 is rolled, it is a hit and not a critical hit?

That is a good point. Your third or subsequent hits will crit less due to the multiple attack penalty. If you roll a 20 and that would not normally hit due to those (and other) penalties, it would be a normal hit and not a critical hit.

Silver Crusade

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Kerobelis wrote:


Third attacks (with the -10 penalty) will often require more than a 20 roll. So in this case when a natural 20 is rolled, it is a hit and not a critical hit?

GREAT question!

Also, I'm correct in assuming that every class at any level has the same number of potential attacks...THREE? I'm guessing this works okay due to the very slim chance at lower levels of extra attacks being useful.

Sovereign Court

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Kerobelis wrote:
Stephen Radney-MacFarland wrote:
Both are correct, but the second is more correct. What the first section is missing is "if you succeeded and rolled a 20 on the die" If a 20 would not normally succeed for you, which is extremely rare and usually outside the typical benchmarks of encounter or challenge design, but you roll a 20 on the die, it would be a success rather than a critical success.
Third attacks (with the -10 penalty) will often require more than a 20 roll. So in this case when a natural 20 is rolled, it is a hit and not a critical hit?

Yes. Continuing on page 292:

Quote:
If your enemy is far more powerful than you or a task beyond your abilities, you might roll a natural 20 and still get a result lower than the DC. In this case, you succeed instead of critically succeed or fail.


I missed that clause. Thanks for the clarification, that may save some characters in the future!


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So the text on pg. 8 should be corrected.

Maybe change it to something like:

Rolling 20 is better! Rolling a 20 on the die means you automatically succeed and may critically succeed. A critical success often has a greater effect than normal and usually requires you to exceed the Difficulty Class by 10 or more. More about critical successes is on page 292.

Grand Lodge

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Stephen Radney-MacFarland wrote:
Kerobelis wrote:
Third attacks (with the -10 penalty) will often require more than a 20 roll. So in this case when a natural 20 is rolled, it is a hit and not a critical hit?
That is a good point. Your third or subsequent hits will crit less due to the multiple attack penalty. If you roll a 20 and that would not normally hit due to those (and other) penalties, it would be a normal hit and not a critical hit.

According to page 177 this is contradicted under the critical hits entry.

Rulbook Page 177 wrote:

CRITICAL HITS

When you make an attack and roll a natural 20 (the
number on the die is 20), or if the result of your attack
exceeds the target’s AC by 10, this is called a critical
success (also known as a critical hit).

Its the "or" that breaks the continuity. it gives the impression that either a natural 20 or beating the DC by 10 is a critical hit. It should read...

CRITICAL HITS
When you make an attack and roll a natural 20 (the
number on the die is 20), your attack is considered a
success even if it failed to exceed the targets AC.

If the result of your attack exceeds the target’s AC by 10,
this is called a critical success (also known as a critical hit).


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On page 292, there is a further clarification that is needed about rolling 20 that contradicts or puts a further condition on the text that precedes it.

"If your enemy is far more powerful than you or a task
beyond your abilities, you might roll a natural 20 and
still get a result lower than the DC. In this case, you
succeed instead of critically succeed or fail.
If you lack the
proficiency for a task in the first place, or it’s impossible,
you might still fail on a natural 20.

The first bolded portion implies that rolling a 20 will always allow you to at least succeed even if the task "is beyond your abilities". Then the next bolded portion says exactly the opposite using the terms "lack the proficiency" and "impossible".

It is unclear how the "beyond your abilities" differs from "lack the proficiency" and how "impossible" differs from not having the bonuses needed to succeed on a check.

If there are situations where a roll of a 20 succeeds and a roll of a 20 fails, those situations need to be defined more clearly.

Grand Lodge

Agreed, there seems to be various limitations depending on the type of action.

Attack actions have a 20 always hit/ 1 always miss rule
Skills and opposed checks however, have the beyond your abilities caveat.

It's situations like this that causes player confusion and with PF2 its even worse since they hare trying to blend all the rules together to minimise having different rules for different parts of the game.


As opposed to auto-critting:

It might confuse some people, but maybe we should treat 20's as 30's (or just say you get to add an additional 10). Then the result will still cap, but most often still crit.

Though I would prefer something like +5 on a 20 and -5 on a 1. It would crit and fumble a little less, but I think that's a good thing. Of course, this starts to get even more complicated, and there's already quite a lot to remember.


Janet Kuhlmann wrote:

On page 292, there is a further clarification that is needed about rolling 20 that contradicts or puts a further condition on the text that precedes it.

"If your enemy is far more powerful than you or a task
beyond your abilities, you might roll a natural 20 and
still get a result lower than the DC. In this case, you
succeed instead of critically succeed or fail.
If you lack the
proficiency for a task in the first place, or it’s impossible,
you might still fail on a natural 20.

The first bolded portion implies that rolling a 20 will always allow you to at least succeed even if the task "is beyond your abilities". Then the next bolded portion says exactly the opposite using the terms "lack the proficiency" and "impossible".

It is unclear how the "beyond your abilities" differs from "lack the proficiency" and how "impossible" differs from not having the bonuses needed to succeed on a check.

If there are situations where a roll of a 20 succeeds and a roll of a 20 fails, those situations need to be defined more clearly.

I think that second bold clause is referencing the gating effect of proficiency rank. For example if a check requires Master rank, but you only have Expert rank, you can still attempt the check (for hazards you might not know what proficiency rank is required). But you will always fail even if you roll a natural 20 because you lack the needed proficiency for the task.


I agree that the text isn't clear.

If the highest I can roll on an attack roll is 30 and the AC of my opponent is 35 you could argue that it is impossible to hit. Because I looked through the book and nothing says a natural 20 is always an automatic hit.

The result with a d20 would be lower than the DC. It says I succeed in the first bolded part but then you could argue that even untrained I have a proficiency (and trained or higher is not required to make an attack) and thta hitting him is impossible. So would the first or second bolded part apply for an attack roll?

EDIT: Or should it not matter that its impossible for me? But only if its impossible at all?


Stephen Radney-MacFarland wrote:
Kerobelis wrote:
Third attacks (with the -10 penalty) will often require more than a 20 roll. So in this case when a natural 20 is rolled, it is a hit and not a critical hit?
That is a good point. Your third or subsequent hits will crit less due to the multiple attack penalty. If you roll a 20 and that would not normally hit due to those (and other) penalties, it would be a normal hit and not a critical hit.

Can this clarification be added to the errata page? I seen more than character knocked out due to these hail-mary nat 20 rolls.

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