I’ve gamed at many different tables over the years and even now I am part of at least three different tables per month. You have to pick and adjust your house rules to fit not only that group by also the particular game being played. A swashbuckling game of heroic adventures will not have the same needs as a grimdark game where life is cheap and the consequences of failure are brutal. Feel free to use or adapt these as needed to meet the needs of your particular table. I’d love to hear how they worked for you.
When I sat down to build my own tables for critical hits & critical fumble table for that Favourite Fantasy RPG, I decided on a couple of things.
- It had to be fairly simple, requiring one additional roll to avoid bad things or to hit another
- It had to be significant but not severe (Rolemaster and Warhammer FRP critical tables will regularly result in dismemberments and loss of vital organs – not what I want here)
- It had to be entertaining with some narrative opportunities
The wording has been tweaked a little bit over time and play, but these are the Critical Tables that I am currently using at my table until I come up with something better. I also will usually try to put another player in charge of the Crit Tables as I have enough to worry about as a DM. At the end of this post, there’s a PDF version of these tables as well.
Some examples of ways you could choose to tweak these tables to better fit your game table:
- Who gets to roll on these tables? Is it just the heroes, the heroes and named villains, or every creature out there from the lowliest rat to the mightiest dragon? The more restricted your choice, the less randomly dramatic the combats if none of the minions are able to do more than just twice the dice in damage on a critical hit.
- Creatures that roller larger dice for damage are dramatically more powerful when they deal a maximum base damage plus an additional roll (i.e. a Stone Giant dealing 4d10+6 on a regular critical deals about 50 points of damage (1d0 -> avg of 5.5) but with Max + Roll will deal about 68). As DM, it’s your choice how hard you want a narrative minion to hit on a Natural 20.
- Adding Proficiency Bonus when rolling will push the results to better crits and weaker fumbles.
- Changing the ranges – currently this is set up for a 50% chance for a critical hit of Max + Roll and 50% that a critical miss is just a miss. If you added five more results to your table or even just renumbered it to be on a 1d12 (1,2 = normal, 3-12 = dramatic results). I chose my numbers to reduce the odds of the more dramatic results and other potentially destabilizing effects, particularly on the infamous fumble being so detrimental 5% of the time being reduced to only 2% on this table.
- Better Numbers are scaled for better results – I made a choice for no triple damages, effects lasting past the encounter, and no loss of characteristics or limbs. It could have just as easily rewarded a second 20 with triple damage and a Con Save to not to bleed out 1d4 every round and punished the double 1 fumble with a Dex Save to avoid losing a finger. There are plenty of games and homebrew tables that do just that.
Critical Hits and Misses
If an attack roll is a Natural 20 or a Natural 1, roll an additional d20 and consult the appropriate table.
If a Critical Hit requires a save, the DC is equal to 8 + Attacker Bonus to Hit unless otherwise stated.
If a Fumble requires a Save, the DC is equal to the AC of the opponent unless otherwise stated.
Melee and Ranged Critical Hits
1-10 Critical: Attacker deals maximum base damage plus rolling the base damage.
11 Make an Opening: Double Damage and Attacker may take an immediate Free Attack. If ranged, only a single shot is expended on this exceptional hit.
12 Exposed Weakness: Double damage and Opponent’s AC is halved until they are damaged by an attacker.
13 Tactical Strike: Double damage and Attacker may move themselves and the Opponent up to ten feet total without provoking attacks of opportunity.
14 Off Balance: Double damage and Opponent must make a Dex Save or be knocked prone. If successful, the opponent is still standing but the next attack against them is at advantage.
15 Twin Strike: Immediately deal roll damage against your Opponent plus roll damage against another enemy target of your choice that you can reach with your weapon. If ranged, the additional target must be within a reasonable line of attack. If there is no other enemy target available, apply the damage against the original.
16 Broken Spirit: Double damage and Opponent must make a Will Save or they cannot attack until the end of their next turn. If successful, they are at disadvantage to their next attack.
17 Set Up Deal: maximum damage and the next attack roll against the opponent is at advantage, even if it is your own due to extra attacks.
18 Disarm: Opponent must make a Str Save or drop their weapon (scatter up to 1d4 squares away). If successful or has only natural weapons, they take double damage instead.
19 Blinded: Opponent is blinded for 1d4 rounds unless they can make a Con Save. If successful, they are blinded until the end of their next turn.
20 Stunned: Opponent must make a Con Save or be Stunned until the end of their next turn. If successful, the opponent is at disadvantage to all attacks and characteristic rolls until the end of their next turn.
1 Panic: You must make a Cha Save or become Frightened of your opponent. You make reroll the save again at the end of your turn.
2 Confusion: You must make an Int Save or be stunned for your next turn. If successful, you are only at disadvantage to attacks and characteristic rolls.
3 Not in the game: Your turn is over. You may take no bonus actions, reactions, or extra attacks until the end of your next turn.
4 Over Eager: Roll damage as normal. You and your opponent both take half of that damage.
5 Misjudged: Measure Your opponent may immediately move up to 10 feet without provoking an attack of opportunity from you.
6 Stumble: You must make a Dex Save or fall prone.
7 Mashed Thumbs: You must make a Con Save or immediately drop your weapon (scatters 1d4-1 squares away in a random direction)
8 Collision: You must make a Str Save or be knocked prone.
9 Tactical Error: Your opponent may make an immediate attack of opportunity without using their reaction.
10 Over Reaching: The next attack against you is at advantage.
11-20 Regular Miss
1 Weapon Woes: The weapon is broken and will require a short rest to repair. If it was a thrown weapon instead, you take half damage without damage bonus, minimum 1.
2 Muscle Strain: You pulled a muscle. You cannot make further ranged weapon attacks for 1d4 rounds.
3 Hands are Sweaty: Your weapon slips form your hands. You must wait until your next turn before you may pick up the dropped weapon or draw another weapon.
4 Mistimed Shot: You accidentally shoot at the ally closest to your target. Your ally must make a Dex Save against the AC of the opponent you were trying to hit to avoid being hit.
5 Friendly Fire: Your shot goes wide, going instead into your nearest ally. Your ally must make a Dex Save against DC 12+1d6 to avoid being hit. No damage bonuses apply to the ally.
6 Dishonorable Discharge: You strike yourself with your weapon, dealing regular damage without damage bonus.
7 Tunnel Vision: You are so focused on your target that you carelessly ignore everything else. The next attack made on you before your next turn is made at advantage.
8 Spilled Ammo: Your ammunition is spilled, requiring an action to collect all of it. Otherwise you must remain in place if you wish to continue using it.
9 Hasty Mistakes: In your rush, you expend 1+1d4 ammunition. If your weapon is thrown, consider the extra ammunition to be spilled on the ground instead.
10 Bad case of the yips: You must make a Cha Save. If you fail, you must subtract 1d4 from all attacks rolls. You may roll the save again at the end of each turn. If successful, only your next attack is penalized by 1d4.
11 – 20 Regular miss
Spell or Magical Critical Hits
1-10 Roll double damage: Die results of 1 explode (add the 1 and roll again)
11 Intimidating: Opponents within 30 feet of the caster who witness this spell must make a Cha Save. If successful, they are at disadvantage to attack the caster for their next turn. Otherwise they must choose a different target to attack.
12 Elemental Advantage: The caster deals normal damage plus rolling the damage a second time but choosing a different damage type (acid, cold, fire, lightning, thunder)
13 Quick Caster: The caster may cast an additional spell as a bonus action
14 Shock and Awe: Target must make a Cha Save or be Frightened of the caster for 1+1d4 rounds. If successful, it is Frightened of the caster for only 1 round. The creature may attempt to save again at the end of the following turns.
15 Total Recall: After this spell is cast, regain the used spell slot.
16 Inspired: Roll double damage. If the caster makes a spell attack before the end of their next turn, it is at advantage.
17 Forked: The caster may target an additional opponent within the range of this spell. The caster must roll an additional spell attack against that opponent.
18 Blowback: The caster deals normal damage. Additionally, the spell deals +1d4 force damage per level of spell slot used (minimum +1d4 for cantrips) and the opponent is knocked prone.
19 Empowered: Damage die rolls of 1 or 2 are treated as a 3. If the spell causes a condition instead of damage, the condition lasts for an additional round.
20 Supercharged: Deal maximum damage, then roll and add damage normally. If the spell causes a condition, the duration is doubled instead.
Spell and Magic Fumbles
1 Wild Surge: A tear in the fabric of magic unleashes a Wild Magic Surge. Bet you regret laughing at those sorcerers now, eh?
2 Brain Fry: The spell misses the target and causes you 1d4 per level of the expended spell slot (minimum 1 for cantrips) psychic damage.
3 Ground Zero: You accidentally target yourself. Make a Dex Save vs the AC of your intended target to avoid your own spell.
4 Crisis of Confidence: Your magic has failed you, leading to a momentary crisis in confidence. Until you manage to successfully damage at least one opponent, all spell attacks are made at disadvantage.
5 Tongue Tied: Sometimes the words just don’t come out right. Make a Wis Save against your Spell DC. If you fail, your spell damage is halved for 1d4 rounds.
6 Misguided: An ally has gotten between you and your target. The ally closest to your target and within range can make a Dex Save against your Spell DC to avoid being hit.
7 Feedback: Roll damage as normal, but split the damage between you and your intended target.
8 Unstable: Something has gone horribly wrong and you don’t know how to fix it. Make an Int Save against your Target’s AC or else become Frightened of your Target. You may roll the save again at the end of each turn.
9 Drained: Instead of expending the intended spell slot, you instead expend a spell slot of a higher level. If there are no higher slots available, you expend this slot and the next highest available spell slot. If you have no spell slots remaining, you have bigger problems to worry about. If casting from an item, expend an extra 1d4 charges.
10 Somatic Cramp: You must make a Con Save against your Spell DC or be at disadvantage to all spell attack rolls for 1d4 rounds.
11-20 Regular Miss