Critical Problems: RAW vs RAI


General Discussion


(I promised I searched the forums before posting this, so if there's am existing thread you want to point me to, I appreciate it).

The text for Critical success states: "If you succeed AND rolled a 20 on the die...[comma] OR if your result is equal to or greater than the DC plus 10[comma] you critically succeed." p.292

Now folks, I'm an English teacher, and this is already a huge RAW vs RAI problem. The two commas setting up a separate clause implies this interpretation:
The 2 conditions for getting a crit are as follows
1) You succeeded on your roll by rolling a nat 20+your modifier to beat the AC/DC.
2) You just rolled 10 higher than the AC/DC.

Now the problem with the structure of the original sentence is that it could also be interpreted this way:
In order to crit you must succeed at your roll, either by adding your mod to a nat 20 or getting a total result that is 10 above the AC/DC.

Now you can have your opinion on which interpretation is correct, but because of the comma usage, you cannot say 100% that the other interpretation is wrong unless you're a dev and would like to hand down a final ruling from on high. (Which I would greatly appreciate)

I promise this all comes from a place of wanting to do right by my players, so any and all responses that can help me understand what does and does not count as a crit for my players and I are greatly appreciated.

UPDATE
I found this sentence that answers another question:
"Armor Class (AC) is a special type of DC..." p.292


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Perhaps I'm irrevocably dense, but I fail to see the difference between the two interpretations. Like, I see that in the first, you only need to succeed in the nat 20 section, where in the second, you need to succeed in either way, but getting 10 or more over the DC implies success.

Is it that the second implies that things that convert a success (but not a critical success) to a failure would convert a roll of (for example) a roll of 22 on a dc 12 check to a failure? Because I think that's more an ambiguity on the order of operations on modifying results, as I think the bigger issue would be with nat 20s, where a roll of 22 on a dc 13 check (off a nat 20) is made ambiguous as to whether it is a success first, then modified to a failure, and thus not eligible to be a critical success or a success, modified to a critical success, and thus not eligible to be modified to a failure. While I think most people would say it's the latter, I think there's more room for ambiguity in this than in where the and/or modify.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tholomyes wrote:
Perhaps I'm irrevocably dense, but I fail to see the difference between the two interpretations.

I'm with you there. The interpretation says the same thing, just worded differently.


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I also don't see the semantic difference between the two statements.

Since if A is "the set of rolls which succeed", B is "the set of rolls which exceed the target by 10", and C is "the set of rolls which are natural 20s", then the set of critical hits is:

B∪(A∩C) which is equal to A∩(B∪C) since A∩B=B as all rolls which exceed the DC by 10 by definition exceed the DC (i.e. B⊂A)

I think situations in which 20 is not sufficient to succeed but you're rolling anyway will be fairly rare.


Yeah, I don’t see this wording in the rulebook as being at all ambiguous.

A Critical Success is either, 1) a natural 20 that beats the DC (a natural 20 isn’t an automatic success if you don’t beat the DC) or 2) A roll (+modifiers) that beats the target DC by 10 or more.

I dig it because playing with a natural 20 being an automatic success your players have 5% chance to accomplish ANY task regardless of its difficulty or their skill.


I don't see this as ambiguous at all. If your total result is a success and the die roll was a 20, you critically succeed. If your total result was 10+ higher than the DC (the success here is implicit so there's no reason to restate it), you critically succeed.


What's the issue?

I'm not seeing it.


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Update: I'm not sure what synapses weren't firing when I wrote this original post, but yes, I'm an idiot. Thank you all for contributing.

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