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How Do You Feel Rolling a Crit?

by Mike on 14 August 2023

When you roll a critical hit for a monster attacking a character, how do you feel about it? Does it feel awesome? Does it feel like justice? Do you feel guilty about the crit? Do you enjoy the suspense and heightened tension it brings?

What about when players roll a critical hit on a monster? Does their surprising success bring the same level of excitement? Does it make you frown? Do you check your monster stat block to see if there's any way to negate it?

How we feel about critical hits tells us a lot about what sort of approach we have towards the game itself. Are we fans of the characters? If so, we probably enjoy their critical hits and clench our teeth when the monsters return the favor. Do we see them as adversaries? Maybe those character crits don't feel so great if the plans we had for our big monster falls apart when they get squished.

What if you Don't Like the Answer?

What if, in your soul searching about critical hits, you realize character crits make you frown and monster crits make you happy but you wish it weren't so? What can you do about it?

  1. Let go of trying to control the game. Remember that we play to see what happens. We set up situations and let the characters navigate them. We don't dictate a specific outcome. If a player crits and drops a monster early – cool!

  2. Show off those awesome character abilities. Use lightning rods to set things up for characters to blow away lots of monsters or banish big ones to the forbidden zone.

  3. Be fans of the characters. Learn about them with campfire tales. Ask for stars and wishes. Talk to your players.

Think about how you feel about critical hits. Think about how you feel about your relationship with the game and with the characters. Are you their adversary or are you their biggest fan?

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This week I posted YouTube videos on Using a Monster Damage Pool in D&D 5e and Scarlet Citadel Prep Session 32.

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This work includes material taken from by Michael E. Shea available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license.

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