Wizards of the Coast wants to make some big changes to the way a natural roll of 20 dice works Dungeons and Dragons. Yesterday Wizards of the Coast released the first playtest pack for One D&D, a new “backwards compatible” version of Dungeons and Dragons due out in 2024. The playtest material included character building options for race and background, and it also included a glossary where many more suggested changes could be found. An important revision under consideration is how “Natural 20s”, which is a roll of 20 on a d20 roll, works both in and out of combat.
The first notable change is that a Natural 20 is now considered an automatic success on d20 rolls made out of combat. Dungeons & Dragons 5E rules only counted natural 20s as a “critical hit” within combat, and a 20 was not supposed to be counted as an automatic success for things like Perception checks or Insight checks. Many fans have already applied the rule “Nat 20 = automatic success” in their home games, so Dungeons and Dragons is really just coding a popular rule that many fans already use.
Some major changes are proposed to the way critical hits work in Dungeons and Dragons also. First, a critical hit is limited to weapon attack rolls or unarmed attacks. Spellcasters who make spell attack rolls no longer seem to benefit from a critical hit (although this may change when the spell playtest is released). Additionally, players only roll their weapon damage dice a second time when they get a critical hit. So if a villain scores a critical hit while sneaking attack, he may not do his Sneak Attack damage a second time.
While this seems like a big nerf for Critical Hits, there’s another big change that should benefit players. Monsters cannot critically hit a player with an attack. While the rules still state that a Natural 20 still counts as an automatic success for monsters, they cannot deal additional damage if they score a Natural 20 on a player.
The other thing to consider is that Natural 20s will hypothetically be much more common for players in the new version of Dungeons and Dragons. The game adds mechanical rules to receive Inspiration, allowing players to roll with advantage more often and thus have a greater chance of getting a Natural 20 on a roll.
You can check out the full set of playtest material on D&D Beyond. Be sure to let us know what you think of these new changes in the comments section!
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