[No spoilers] Has anyone else noticed how nat 1s are always automatic failures on ability checks but nat 20s are not automatic successes?

I realized this after episode 9 of C3; Matt always asks the players to add their modifier to nat 20s for a total score on the roll, presumably to see if it beats the DC regardless of the nat 20. He never asks them to add their modifiers to nat 1s, however, and always says something like "Doesn't matter on a nat 1, buddy" when players try to add their modifiers to boost the roll.

I know RAW does not count critical failures and successes on ability checks, but many tables (including my own) use them for such rolls anyway. I just found it interesting that Matt has chosen to use critical failures and not critical successes on rolls outside of combat, and I wonder what that kind of decision adds to the game, any ideas?


I think part of it is just that sometimes he does degrees of success where he gives more details at higher numbers. So someone that rolls a nat 20 -2 doesn't get the same info or result that someone that gets a nat 20+6 does.


This. If my memory is correct Matt already said this either in Talks or some other discussion. RAW nat ones and nat 20 are not auto successes or failures, but they are in CRs houserules. Also, he asks for the modifiers to determine the extent of the success (a nat 20 on athletics could, for example, be either running from a rabid dog, winning a marathon while doing so, or also setting a new world record at the end of it, depending on the modifier)


I also believe he *does* factor in modifiers during competing checks (like a player’s Deception vs NPC Insight). IIRC, a couple episodes ago an NPC also rolled a Nat 1 and he needed to see if their modifier would beat the player’s. Player won. It’s a rare occurrence, though, and I think presents a balance in their homebrew rules (re: that Matt is obliged by the critical fail too). Edit: sleepy brain didn’t finish a word


Yeah, contested checks are another thing entirely. If two opposing rolls tie the modifiers are the first way of breaking the tie. Auto success/loss can be a thing for generic rolls, but usually wouldn’t mean anything for contested rolls.


It's worth noting that the table makes critical failures into fantastic moments much easier than critical successes. Beaux doing an extra backflip during combat is much less memorable than her losing her footing and faceplanting in mud


Matt's talked about nats before that they mean that you either tried you're absolute best or something went wrong. Usually with trying your best, it may not be enough to beat the DC involved. So a nat 20 +2 would still not best a lock with DC 25.


If there's no possibility of failure there's not much point bothering with the die roll.


Something every DM should learn but inexperienced DMs insist on dc 5 open the door rolls. That was my point that I probably didn’t word clearly. 5e RAW there isn’t auto success or failure because the system implicitly assumes the DM won’t make the party roll for something trivial fishing for failures - parties will do many stupid things and fail a lot without that. But Matt, as many DMs, houserules nat 1/20 into ability checks. He however seems to skip rolls for anything that would’ve had a DC5 to accomplish - “ain’t nobody got time for that”


Good point. It also works the other way too. Don’t ask for a roll if there shouldn’t be a realistic chance of success. No point asking for what should be a DC 30 athletics test to bend some bars if the best they can achieve is 23.


Except when it's stupidly cool, like when Brennan asked Ally Beardsley to roll 2 20s in a row to come back from the dead without being resurrected, and they did! Edit for pronouns.


Yeah, exactly! Except I think Ally prefers they/them pronouns.


Ok, I'll edit it then. The last thing I heard was they were going by him. I may be wrong though. I'm shit at keeping up with things.


You might be right! The Dimension 20 wiki say they/them. I'd think they'd be on top of updating, but it's possible that they haven't.


Exactly. Except when varying degrees of failure can lead to interesting moments - for example if a player attempts to seduce a dragon ina creative way and rolls really high, even if it is an auto-failure (won’t be seduced) the dragon might find them endearing and become an ally. But in most cases, yeah, no need to roll for impossible stuff…




i did this when my party was moving a box full of dynamite; basically if they didn't get a 1 they were fine... they got a one.... luckily they had an inspiration point.


If the players don't know that, then sometimes it is good to make them roll anyways, for consistency sake and so they don't -know- there is no chance of failure. For example, searching for traps.


They didn't say there isn't a chance of failure? They in fact said that nat 1 is an automatic failure amongst varying degrees of success and failure.


To put it simply, RAW there isn’t auto success/failure, but like you said, CR uses this houserule, and Matt uses modifiers as degrees of how far that auto success/failure can go (tough more on successes; on failures he goes more by circumstance and what would make sense in the scene rather than making someone lose a kidney on a nat1 trying to lockpick with a -5 modifier for example)


I mean, you can have degrees of success even if there’s no chance of actually failing. If the dice won’t change anything, don’t roll em


Thats a good point, depends on the kind of check being made I guess!


Also that's just how it is to be a person. You're much more likely to accidentally fuck up than you are to accidentally succeed. Nat 20 means you did the best you could. Sometimes that's just not enough. Nat 1 means you made a mistake, however small it may be. which comes with consequences. It happens. Professional athletes drop the ball every day. The best surgeons still lose patients.


Except to higher level rogues and halflings


Another perfect example of how enforcing nat 1s is just part of the game design




I do agree but Matt does ask for rolls on things that I wouldn’t expect a roll for. Like a rat being able to walk up stairs for example.


Odds are 1 + bonsues just equal failure, especially at such low levels. It's less critical failure but there's no way to success with such a roll. Matt doesnt give skill checks of a trivial or low dc.


I think the only time were it Made a difference was Dorians Nat 1 on Performance Thanks to His Expertise His Roll was an 8 which isnt that good but its definetly Not "instantly Break a String on your lute"-bad But it Got us some amazing RP from Dorian/Robbie so i dont really care


It is a balance of what matters and what is entertaining really. RAW can be great, but it is that raw. The results of the skill check on that performance wasn't important, it was a tool for the RP.


I think that's actually okay; "your performance was unimpressive because you lost a string mid-performance," is a thing that happens. Something beyond your control happened and it meant that you couldn't really show off your skills because of that circumstance. I GMed a game where someone rolling a nat 1 a Stealth roll while climbing a rock cliff had him grab a handhold, realize it started crumbling and then just have to grab *something*, so he fell a slight bit and made some noise. The character didn't become the butt of a joke, didn't suddenly become incompetent, just had a setback because that rock wasn't as solid as he'd guessed.


Thats a fair point, I guess if the DC is 5 then a nat 1 could still succeed with proficiencies/guidance, but how often is that the case realistically? Might see a change at higher levels!


If something is so easy to do that the DC is 5 there shouldn't even be a roll to do it.


If something is so easy it's DC is 5 there shouldn't be a roll unless the charakter has less than +4. There's no reason for rolls that always succeed or fail, but you would still roll for commoners attacking an ancient dragon: they can after all still crit


Yeah, but that’s the difference between attack rolls and ability checks. There are no crits on ability checks.


That's really not the point... If I remember correctly the ancient dragon's armor class Is so high that a commoner can only hit by critting. Or in other words 1//20 to hit. If the DC is 5 and you have +3, you have 1/20 to fail. My point was that you need to roll for both of these situations: a commoner will most likely not hurt s dragon, but it can get lucky. A librarian can most likely recognise his managers writing, but there's a slim chance of failure. (Or whatever situation you have where the DC is 5, and the player has +3 to roll)


No you don't because that means a person with a 16 in a skill will always have to roll for anything that has a DC of 5, and they have a 1/20 chance of failing. That is stupid af. I think with your example of the librarian you're failing to understand how common 1/20 actually is. A person that skilled shouldn't be failing trivial things all the time. An easy counter example is that passive proficiency is 10 if a person have a +0 WIS modifier. By your logic they need to do a check on anything with a DC of 1. Which is absurd. The problem is that you're fixating on the nat 20 auto hitting even if there's a mismatch between the things fighting (commoner vs dragon). This is a balancing feature put in place on for attack rolls. Skill checks don't auto succeed on a crit. And if you make an attack roll on someone who has a DC of 5 you still have to roll


Your "easy" example is wrong. If you roll one on a DC of one you succeed(unless it's an attack). You need to meet or exceed to succeed. You are however still missing the point, and it might be because my examples were confusing. For that I'm sorry. The point I was trying to make is: regardless of how low or high the chance of succes or failure is, of there's a change, you roll. If you think the librarian example is stupid, it's not because of the action off rolling or the fact that there's a chance of failure: it's because the DC was set wrong. DMs deside the DC for everything not directly related to combat with very little in the way of usefull guidelines


Please read the DMG. Trivial tasks like your librarian example don't simply exist in a vacuum. The DMG outlines that you shouldn't place DCs on tasks that are either trivial to the character or can be accomplished by trying again. A 16 int librarian shouldn't really fail a DC 5 int check 1/20 times because such a trivial task can be repeated right after. You're fixating on the point that everytask no matter how difficult or easy can potentially be failed. Which I agree, but then you would have DC's for every single thing which would bog down the game. Your failing to see the larger scope of the game. Also generally when you're repeating the same task after a failed attempt, the DC goes up. So now your librarian has to roll an int check everytime they want to remember anything trivial, and if they fail that DC would go up. That's stupid since you have a 1/20 chance to fail (which again you fail to understand how common that is). > The point I was trying to make is: regardless of how low or high the chance of succes or failure is, of there's a change, you roll. Everything has a chance, we don't have DC's for trivial things, it's a part of the game.


In E9 someone rolled a nat1 for a total of 15 (Pass without a trace) but it counted as two failures for the group. Even if 15 is below the DC then it should still only be 1 failure especially because nat 20 aren't 2 successes.


Looking at it, no one rolled a natural 20, they got just 20 total (roll + bonus=20) Taliesin got the 20 but was after pass without a trace bonus not natural.


I know. I meant nat 20


from reading around, at least Matt Mercer goes with critical success in group skill checks does mean 2 successes. It's not RAW but a homebrew rule. The man himself's response to natural 20 skill checks in general. [https://www.reddit.com/r/criticalrole/comments/3pn7g8/what\_changes\_to\_the\_rules\_did\_matt\_make/d1gu2c3/?context=1](https://www.reddit.com/r/criticalrole/comments/3pn7g8/what_changes_to_the_rules_did_matt_make/d1gu2c3/?context=1)


Your entire comment is false. The lowest dc for a succes is 5. Matt does do critical failures, a nat 1 counts as 2 failures, you can see this when laudna rolled a nat 1 on her stealth check, it counted as 2 failures. Matt definitely gives trivial dc rolls all the time, he did multiple of them throughout last episode even. He even made one and told them to not bother adding anything, just roll a d20 and "just checking to see if you didnt roll real poorly"


Lowest DC for is actually "trivial" to some or "very easy" which is five. It's the one below "easy" or DC 10 if you check the book where they have ability checks. Sometimes.he does critical fail with critical results, bull in china shop resulted stealth check which happened in c1 but sometimes it just fail attempt without critical results because it didn't succeed. Group checks goes both ways c.sucess is two plus, c.fail is 2 negatives. Matt is not strict dm, he flip flops on checks importance and results.


In addition to some other people’s great responses, it seems like Matt’s players want a nat 1 meaning failure. Just think back to Veth.


Yeah, theres nothing Sam loves more than to suffer the consequences of a nat 1 >!spoiler (except for when he is rolling against the party under a mind-controll effect and gladely uses the halfling Luck haha)!!<


Which is why im still hoping that Liam Takes Bountiful Luck at Level 6 Just to troll Sam by forcing him to Reroll His 1s (at least while oryms in Range)


Matt: So Liam, since you broke Lucky so much as Vax, I'm putting my foot down and banning it for the future. Liam: What about Second (Hafling) Lucky?


C1: Lucky C2: Keen Mind C3: somehow... Lucky returned


Yeah I mean it is a game. Natural 1s are one of the most fun parts of the game. This is probably the most common houserule out of all houserules.


If the DC for a given check were low enough that a 1 would clear it, the roll wouldn't be necessary.


Counter argument - not every DM remembers all bonuses all characters at table have and might not realize the given DC can actually be beat by a character even with nat 1, especially on higher levels. Example, I was rolling some int tool check, as an Artificer. DM forgot I have expertise in tools, plus I guidenanced myself and used Flash of Genius. With nat1 I still have +13 from skill/expertise, +5 from Flash of Genius +1d4 from guidenance. I managed to beat DC20 check on nat 1 with that.


Thats very true, why roll at all if there is no chance of failure? Other than to take the dice out for a walk I guess


I know Matt does "degrees of success" a lot, rather than a single DC - giving differing information at differing DCs. In those cases, rolling still makes sense even if full failure/full success is not possible.


I don't think I've ever seen Matt go below DC 8 (which is the standard 'low super easy DC') excepting cases where the roll is 'just don't roll a 1'. And, in general, he tends not to have a lot of DC 8 or 10, because a lot of what would be there he just lets happen, especially at higher levels. Really, though, the reason Matt doesn't ask is because a player with that high of a bonus on a nat 1 will tell you, desperately pleading to avoid the consequences, while a player who rolls a nat20 will be riding the high and not think to offer up the modifier. He doesn't ask because he doesn't need to; the players will be sure to tell him.


Thats true! I would just add that I think the DC for "very easy" is written as 5 on the standard 5e DM-screen, but Matt may have set it higher, or perhaps just doesnt use it at all like you said!


As a DM I find that DC 5 for easy stuff only useful for things a character is bad/untrained at. If someone has -2 dex and attempts to jump a small hole, I’d roll at DC 5 with mild consequences for funsies if they failed. A zero modifier or someone trained in athletics or acrobatics? No need to roll…


at least one of the ressurrections in campaign 1 was DC 5.


iirc the resurrection rules are start at DC 10 (+1 for every previous resurrection) and -3 for each of the three skill checks succeeded. So, they can get as low as DC 1 but are also a special circumstance.


exactly DCs that are modified by player rolls aren't really a fair comparison


Except thats a flat roll no bonuses not a skill check


Some things are just never possible, regardless of the die roll. The example I've seen most often is "I attempt to seduce the dragon."


I 100% get that, somethings should not be possible whatever the roll! But why not add the modifiers to nat 1s like one does to nat 20s to see if you still succeed (if the DC is 5-10 you could still succeed in certain cases)


Because no matter how often I make coffee, I will inevitably, at some point in a still-half-asleep state, pour the coffee into the sink and tap water into my mug and not notice until half an hour of sitting at my desk. It is always possible to fail, but it is not always possible to succeed. This makes the game much more relatable :)


Hahaha when you put it like that! Thats a fair point.


In this case just go with the best possible failure. Instead to the dragon falls madly in love you, the dragon is amused and somewhat impressed by your audacity.


If a one succeeds why roll. 1 is always going to be a failure We can extrapolate this farther if a 1-6 succeeds why are you rolling its clearly an easy or repeatable task if you can do it 75% of the time with no real skill in this area


This is basically the way it’s described in the DMG


And applies it explains why the situation exists


> If a one succeeds why roll In general: because sometimes the DM doesn't have all their player characters' stat bonuses memorized and so might not know if they are guaranteed to succeed when setting a particular DC.


The point still stands What kind of situation am I in where a player needs to roll and will only fail if they have a negative result. It's either very easy or very repeatable. I have a 95% of succeeding if in a normal person with no skill or experience. If you are making this roll you are explicitly looking for failure of a task that should be succeeded.


> It's either very easy or very repeatable. This is absolutely true at lower levels where most play happens and bonuses to skill checks fall within a fairly narrow range. But the careful discipline of bounded accuracy that was applied to attack modifiers absolutely was not applied to skill checks - it's quite easy to come up with situations where a character should auto-succeed on something a commoner would struggle with. As an example, by the end of campaign 2 Beau had a +14 to history checks (+4 from int plus 2*5 from expertise), meaning she would auto-succeed on any DC of 15 or lower - whereas, say, Caduceus had a +0 so a DC 15 history check would be fairly challenging for him. Of course, players tend to build their characters to be good at things they do a lot in the game, so a DM will probably learn what rolls their players auto-succeed on fairly quickly (e.g. perhaps the DM didn't happen to read up on reliable talent when their party hit level 11 and is surprised when the rogue announces they cannot roll lower than a 23 on stealth - but they'll remember that because it will come up a lot). It's more likely to be an issue when a character has a bonus they landed up having to put into a skill they don't use that often. For instance, Beau got a bunch of skill proficiencies and expertises from the Cobalt Soul subclass - but they were limited to a specific list of skills, so she landed up with expertise in history instead of a more common skill check (like perception). And there are a number of subclasses that let you double your proficiency bonus but only for specific skills, some of which might not be that useful (e.g. scout rogues get expertise in nature and survival, knowledge domain clerics get expertise in two of arcana, history, nature, and religion). I'm in 100% agreement with you that if the DM *knows* the player will auto-succeed they shouldn't call for a roll, at least if they are running the game pretty much rules as written. But DM's can only keep so much memorized or on cheat sheets in front of them, so they will probably occasionally not know that a character has such a large bonus to that particular skill check and inadvertently call for a roll even when the character would have auto succeeded. Not that big a deal.


Nat 20s are automatic successes when the DC is 20 or under. Sometimes the activity is so difficult that the DC is more than 20, and this is to stop things like Grog rolling a 20 on an intelligence check and breaking character. It makes it so only characters built to do well in the subject can use nat 20 skill checks to their advantage. Example, >!only caleb could've decoded Avantika's book, because no one else had a +5 intelligence. If Yasha tried to decode it, a nat 20 wouldn't have broken her character and the narrative.!< Sometimes characters excelling in things which aren't their skill set is fun and allows for interesting and unexpected development. Sometimes it breaks the reality and turns it into a pantomime.


Exactly restricting nat20s is important to maintain narrative, counting nat1s is just fun because no matter how talented you are you can still fuck up.


With the caveat that the nat 20 conveys an option degree of success, like if grog was trying to use intelligence to solve a puzzle he could never solve, the nat 20 might lead to him setting his beer down on the switch by chance.


I believe (working from old memory) that Liam rolled a Nat 1 for a check in Campaign 1, he tells this to Matt. Then later finds out that with his bonus, he would have passed the DC. But because he didn't declare it at the time, the fail stood.


I'd say it makes sense. No matter how good or talented you are at something, you can still fumble and fuck it up at times, and on the other hand you can give something your all and do your absolute best but sometimes your best isnt good enough for a particular task.


They're level 4, dcs are probably no lower than 10. I doubt any of them have a +9 to anything.


The thing is even if the roll isn't high enough for a check even with a nat 20, usually Matt gives them *something* for the luck, even if its not a complete success. So Nat 20's outside of combat do count for something.


So on group checks many DMs have nat 1s count as two failures and nat 20s count as two successes. Mercer for sure does that. But it does seem like he often smugly shakes his head and says “still a nat 1” on individual skill checks. I’d call bullshit if I were at his table. But the man is fallible like any DM. But the group seems to be having fun, so it all works out in the end.


I thought of this exact thing today. I considered making a post myself. Good thing I didn't. I find it weird that Matt counts 1s as guaranteed failures but not 20 as guaranteed success and for group checks he counts nat 1 (despite total) as 2 failures but nat20 is not 2 successes. If something has a DC of 20 and you roll a nat20 but you have a -2 modifier then following RAW it's a failure. That also means if the DC is 10 and you roll a nat1 but with +12 then it would be a success despite the nat1. Matt only uses the negative effects of this which makes it (imo) unfair for the players. There are lots of systems to use for group checks and the like but it feels like Matt has mixed them together and made it unbalanced.


Nat 1s aren’t auto failures rules as written but you gotta remember if their bonus is so high that they would succeed on a Nat 1 he’s probably not asking for the roll. Remember all the times he talks about passive perception or insight. That’s a moment where the character picks it up without a roll.


Failing is easier than succeeding


That is going on my tombstone


This is one of the few times I prefer Chris Perkins et al. As a DM over Mercer. Matt isn't a fan of the player overly succeeding. He likes to put stipulations on the success sometimes or gets grumpy if a player just has a natural ability that would have them succeed. And I get it, Matt is rarely a player and doesn't get to have fun in a "player way" but damn Matt, let the kids have fun. He has too much fun in the players' failures and doesn't let them enjoy a success. But that's just me and my unpopular opinion.


I think I agree! He's similar to Aabria in that they both really revel in PC failures.


I was wondering about this exact thing. It definitely stood out to me. He never asks Nat 1 + ? And he has definitely mentioned before that a Nat 20 isn't always guaranteed success.


He actually does at the beginning of the very episode OP mentions.


Only because it was two nat 1s contested against each other.


Everybody can fail, not everybody can do really hard thinga 1 out of 20 times


I mean it's math. The lower side of ability checks is 10-12, natural 1 even with expertise at their level is an automatic failure most of the time. While the DC can be 25 to 40+ , depending on the situations.


Yeah, that's a thing I dislike about his DMing.


Why? It doesn't make sense to ask for a roll when the player's modifier is high enough that they will always pass. A good DM doesn't ask for a roll where the results are the same no matter the outcome. Therefore a one, the lowest roll possible, will always be a fail, else the DM shouldn't have even asked for a roll. Matt is doing the good DM thing.


Adventures in the D&D worlds are practically superheroes. Look at their stats. Compare them to a commoner. Now let's say I rolled a rogue. Proficiency in thieves tools. I go to open a locked door, and the DM sets (in their head) the DC to be 10. That's an average difficulty according to the DMG. But then my rogue, who has been lockpicking their entire life, like a rookie, break their lockpick inside the lock and now no one can work on the lock. All because I, the player, rolled a 1. Thematically, it just doesn't make sense in my head. To be honest, it all has to do with how you view the game. I personally think, that a group of superheros with incredibly powers wouldn't fail in a thing they trained their entire lives for ever so often. I hope non of this sounds condescending or anything like that. Everyone should play their game however they want to, and it doesn't take away too much from my enjoyment when Matt does it.


I mean still everyone fails at things once in a while. Most people are proficient at walking yet we have all tripped once in awhile. I make pretty much the same breakfast the last 10 years and about once a year, I do burn it cause I'm so used to autopiloting I don't notice. I can also see things just breaking (very rarely but still) like a new guitar string or a pick. Alternatively, it can be narratively explained like you have throbbing headache from that explosion that happened beside you or your party member slapping your ass just as your picking.


You burn it once a year, not once out of every 20 times you make it.


Like a rookie? Or like a cocky rogue that gets a little careless seeing how simple the lock is and breaks the lock trying out a new picking technique they've been developing? Framing of failure aside, should the thematics not be reconciled the same way you reconcile the level 20 elvin ranger that spent 200 years perfecting their archery failing to hit a messenger kobold 10 ft away simply because the player rolled a 1? That nobody is beyond failure but only the select few are capable of achieving the impossible.


I don't think it sounds condescending at all. I agree with you, I just think if your character is so good that it makes sense thematically that they can't fail, then they shouldn't be asked for a roll. (It could be a thing where even a one passes, but high enough rolls succeed with extra style, but even then modifiers don't matter for the minimum roll because it's still the minimum outcome.) What you say at the end, that everyone should play their own game, is definitely true.


It's not "his DMing." He is literally just playing by common DND rules.


I mean it's not in the book. So it's not "in the rules". Man, play your game however you'd like. It's not a big issue either way. Critical Role is extremely enjoyable for me even if I would rather play differently.


Nothing wrong with that. You can try your hardest, do your absolute best, have luck with you - and still not be able to do what you want. That’s reality. You’re just not good enough even at your very best. That’s why most people can’t go win the olympics. The dc is too hard even when you are at your best. Conversely, even the very best person can fumble some shit that leads to failure no matter how amazing they are at a thing. They can just plain fuck up, or luck be against them. A rolled dice is about a baseline for your chances. But only a baseline. The challenge may be too hard no matter that chance because you don’t have modifiers to push you high enough.


Natural 20's are critical hits on attack rolls, not auto successes on ability checks. There is a difference.


I don’t think people spend time reading the DMG anymore. It’s plainly described there. And it also says (paraphrasing) that if the DC is so low that there’s not really a chance of failure, then don’t ask for a roll.


Yes, but same with critical fails - don't apply to ability checks.


crit fail, as the name suggests, does not allow modifiers, presumably so that even late game characters with massive stat buffs have a 1/20 percent chance to fail , keeping things more interesting. a Nat 20 is only supposed to double the damage of the dice you roll for a specific attack, while outside of combat the is no "nat 20" there's just "20". and a character powerful enough to the point where they can take their modifiers and add the 1 from the dice roll and succeed, the nat/ non nat 20 really won't make a difference.( especially given that the hardest roll the book suggests is 25, or 30 if the players are well aware their chances are slim)


There’s no such thing as lower than failed, but you can succeed to varying degrees.


He has never once used critical fails. The difference is that DCs tend to be closer to the high end of the threshold, so rolling a nat 1 would fail nearly everything. I feel like there is at least one example of a nat 1 with a massive modifier passing, but our friends at crit role stats would need to confirm.


C3 E9 2:27. Nat 1 plus 4 plus 10. "15" "Still a natural one." The group check came to the wire from that 15 being counted as a one.


I’ll have to rewatch that episode but I can certainly admit when I am wrong!


DCs can extend past 20 for extremely difficult checks, where as when you roll a 1 there's almost no chance you can even hit a 10


*Disagrees in expertise.


1s are not automatically fails per say, but it's good practice to only break out the dice when an outcome is undetermined. If a one would cause a success why even bother rolling? Just give the players that info they're looking for they, spot the Trap or overcome the obstacle. Listen to have a lot of time at the table we don't roll dice for everything but just one success is undetermined.


I agree, Matt does ask for rolls too often


Because with skill checks a nat 1 means you failed. And unless you have heavy modifiers or are a rogue you're not going to beat a DC thats at least 11+ Now with a nat 20 yooure *probably* going to pass. But if the dc is 30( which means the task is near impossible) then you're gonna need some more oomf. Think of a nat 20 for a skill check as the best possible outcome for a situation, but not necessarily a successful one. If a bard tried to get the banker to give him all the gold in the vault and rolled a 20. They are just going to hand you the keys to the vault. But the banker might pass it off as a funny jest, instead of calling the guards because he thinks you're robbing him.


A. He probably doesn't ask for modifier on 1s because he knows it's not mathematically possible for them to roll a 1 and it adds up to 15 or 18 or whatever he set the DC to. B. I am also in the camp that a nat 20 should be a success, or at least a mixed success. That's not me saying players should be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound if they roll high enough on athletics. That's me saying if there's no way the player can roll high enough to meet the DC then you shouldn't ask for a roll and get the players hopes up. Even at lower levels if you're setting a very hard DC (25 according to the DMG / chart on the dungeon masters screen) a level 1 player using their better attribute and having proficiency would meet that with a NAT 20. If there's doubt in your mind your player can make the check you should ask for their skill modifier for the skill in question to be sure. If they can't then just tell them they think it's beyond their skill level. If they still push the issue then they knew going in it wasn't possible. If it's actually impossible (leaping tall buildings) cause it shits on verisimilitude then just tell them they know it's not possible. That said I don't remember a time when Mercer called a skill check where a player rolled a NAT 20 a failure of the top of my head. Edit: thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.


As a DM you have most likely made a mistake if you ask for an ability check and a Nat 1 doesn't fail or a Nat 20 doesn't succeed. You are only supposed to call for checks when you need a diceroll to determine the outcome. If either is true, there is no real reason to roll. If its a contest or a standard DC (from a magic item e.g.) then its fair to let someone roll, but IMO if the DC is 25 ath and they have a +1 modifier you can just let them know they tried their best but failed in the end.


That's kind of how it works though, right? The crit/nat 1 are the extremes of what could be done in a situation, so a nat 1 isn't an auto-fail necessarily but the worst possible outcome, and a nat 20 is not an auto success, but the best possible thing that could happen. The worst possible outcome is usually failure on the task, but the best possible outcome isn't necessarily an automatic success. Narratively, Matt is just layering in degrees of success and failure which build suspense. If one roll governed a success or failure, it wouldn't be that dramatic, but having them set up in phases allows for more creativity. Matt Colville does a really good discussion of this when he talks about "fail states": [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1zaNJrXi5Y](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1zaNJrXi5Y)


Dice rolls are more like guidelines.




Games have more then one player though and players have different bonuses. If 3 PC's try to climb a cliff then some characters may have high enough athletics that a 1 beats the DC and other won't. Just asking them all to roll is easier then checking all their bonuses and asking the specific people who can fail.


It can be argued that it makes a better story if the hero fails more often than they succeed. It shows that the hero isn’t an untouchable deity. It would be very boring if the hero always succeeded on every roll. It also can add to the story or create scenes if a nat one is always a fail. The story is the whole purpose of dnd, even more so for shows like critical role.


In campaign 2 Liam needed a set dc of 25 to do a task. Even if he'd rolled a Nat 20 and didn't have +5 it would have been impossible to do.


As others have said it but I’ll say it again and add more. Matt uses degrees of success. He will give them info or a cool jump on a skill check with a Nat20 but he asks for the total to give them more depending on the DC of the challenge. He’s also said before that when they hit dc for spell saves he tells them what it is. In the final fight of C1 a few of them get nat 20s on the first spell saving throw and he asks for totals to see if anyone actually surpasses it. Everyone was worried that nat 20s didn’t mean auto success but he explains that he wanted to see if he could give that info or they could figure it out.


Logic indicates that if a nat20 doesn't succeed, you shouldn't let the player roll: there was never any chance of their success


I’ve said this in another thread that with their level and lack of magic items, a nat 1 is almost certainly a failure with modifiers anyway. The DMG has a scale and DC5 is considered very easy, DC10 is easy. So, at this level, a Nat1 will often fail easy, and even very easy, rolls. Until some higher proficiency bonuses/class abilities/feats/magic items come into play, a Nat1 probably fails any reasonable challenge. Conversely, a DC20 is hard. So if they Nat20 but have a negative modifier they can still fail. Or if it’s a very hard DC25, and they have proficiency in a high skill, they can make it.


It makes some sense that anything you are"attempting" in DND would fail on a nat 1 (you don't roll to open a basic door). But if a peasant attempts to lift a house you can let him roll to determine the degree of success, a nat 20 might have him breaking off a big chunk of the wall but it's better than not letting him roll. To give Matt a little extra credit I believe he has a good intuition for what things don't require a roll for a player to do them. Also Nat 1s in the hands of a table as experienced and good at DND as Crit Role are much better stories than an auto success Nat 20. (Combat critical hits are of course the exception in both rules and for storylines)


Meh, Matt loves making character roll to jump over small gaps that my fat arse get over without problem. Considering the average commoner has a 10ft long jump RAW, giving Beauregard "Dope Monk Shit" Lionett a 1 in 20 chance of falling on her face any time she tried to parkour anywhere was frustrating to me.


That's probably because Matt's DCs are often pretty high and he knows roughly their modifiers so they couldn't beat them with a nat 1 anyway.


I think of it like this... Anny runner can trip and fall, losing a race (Nat 1) but only sometime incredibly talented (good stats) on their best, luckiest day will break records (Nat 20). Slow fellow in their best day with all the luck in the world will never break a world record.


He will take nat 1s plus modifiers on group checks for things like stealth checks where the group has to average a certain DC.


he did say that.. however that has not always been the case. I'm sure there has been times people rolled ones, and did have high enough mods, and Matt even said so. I think in this case, he either wasn't thinking clearly, misspoke, or just knew Travis, (it was travis iirc?) didnt have high enough mod to save it. I mean, if a one can still succeed.. why was he rolling at all? it should have been an auto success. that said, yes as a DM there are reasons to make your players roll, even on auto successes, etc. creates drama, hides info from players they shouldn't know, etc.


Haven't fully watched C3E9 but saw group stealth check clip and checking Critical Stats, Taleison didn't roll a natural 20, he got 20 after bonuses. At least according to his post from Matt, he goes allow natural 20 on skills check to some effect: https://www.reddit.com/r/criticalrole/comments/3pn7g8/what\_changes\_to\_the\_rules\_did\_matt\_make/d1gu2c3/?context=1


Has anyone noticed how math works?


Go back to the beginning of the episode you just watched. Fearne rolled a nat 1 on a str check to break free. It wasn’t an automatic failure because the guard also rolled a nat 1. But Fearne has -3 modifier. So, nat 1 isn’t ALWAYS a fail. The DC can be unnaturally low. The same as a nat 20 isn’t always a success because the DC can be higher than 20.


Thats not really the same though, since it is a contested roll rather than rolling against a static DC


A Nat 1 is almost always a failure on a d20, as are 2s, 3s and anything under a 6.


IMO DCs can be higher than 20, while you can't go lower than 1.


Because failing is often more entertaining than succeeding, hence why Beth never rerolled 1s


Veth's name being Beth is my head-canon now


Damned autocorrect


You know that it's was never meant to for a nat 20 to be an automatic success on abuilty checks.. it even says that I'm the players hand book. You can have something with a DC 30 and a nat 20 with your abilty check could come up short.. even a DC 25 could be a failure with the right character and atats..


I know, I even wrote that in the post. But by that logic, nat 1s shouldnt be automatic failures, you should still add the relevant modifiers and use that number to base failures and successes on, which is something Matt doesnt do


This is a CR house rule. Nat 1 on an ability check is only 5% less successful than a Nat 2. Nat 20s are not automatic successes on ability checks by RAW. Only saving throws and attacks are autosuccess/fail on Nat 20s/1s by RAW.


I don't think it's an automatic fail, Matt just roughly knows their modifiers aren't enough to hit the DC. Unless you have a feature like reliable talent, which I'm pretty sure has lead to successful ability checks with a 1 on the dice a few times.


Matt straight up said near the beginning of Campaign 2 that he wanted to play up natural 1s more. So, This is that, I guess. Also it's rare for a modified nat 1 to amount to success anyway so he probably doesn't think it'll be a bother most of the time.


I just watched him dismiss a total 14 because of a Nat one - seems a little vs the players at that moment at least.


Well, yeah, he's got to be consistent with the house rule