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In DnD 3.x and related systems, you threaten a critical hit on a natural 20, but then have to confirm the crit by making another to-hit roll. If your followup roll beats the target's AC (or is another natural 20), then the hit was a critical hit and you make another damage roll.

There are plenty of variations to this, such as weapons, feats, items, stances, and spells that increase the "threat range" to be 19-20 or even 15-20 (or larger) if you stack things cleverly, and similar enhancements to cause more than one extra damage roll, and chain extra stuff off the crit.

I'm only asking about the simplest case here. From an abstract point of view, scoring a crit really just means "make another single attack", right? The attack and damage roll are the same. Am I missing something here? Are the two concepts really equivalent (before you get into all the add-ons that make crits more common or more damaging)?

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What about weapons with a multiplier of *3 or greater? Surely you aren't talking about scythes, here? –  LitheOhm Sep 18 '12 at 5:10
I think it's safe to say the question can be abstracted to what makes a x3 crit different than 2 extra attacks, and so on. –  mxyzplk Sep 19 '12 at 2:13

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The primary difference is that a number of effects do NOT double on a critical. See Multiplying Damage in the online SRD. Extra dice of damage do not double, so sneak attack damage, things like flaming burst, etc. do not multiply on a crit. From that perspective, an additional attack would be better.

However, there are any number of other factors in the complex 3.5e combat system that make it different. Take Damage Resistance as an example. If a creature has DR 10/-, then one crit of 20 hp damage is a lot better than two hits of 10 hp damage each. Or a True Strike, as written, would not apply to an additional attack but does apply to a critical confirmation roll.

Not to mention there are specific crit-affecting and multiple-attack-affecting rules out there embedded in many rules/powers/feats/spells that will behave differently.

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Not to mention additional attacks all have their own chances of critting individually, so two attacks that could potentially be critical hits would be better than a single attack that was already a crit. –  Cobalt Mar 26 at 19:04

In the broadest terms, it's the equivalent of an additional attack that doesn't cost you an action to perform.

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Aren't there feats / stances / enhancements that give you extra attacks that don't cost an action to perform? I don't see what's special about the "no action". –  Snowbody Nov 14 '11 at 21:58
Not to the best of my knowledge. They might be a different type of action, but a critical hit allows you to cause twice (or more) the usual damage with no more investment than chance. –  Jadasc Nov 14 '11 at 22:52
I was thinking of Haste or taking TWF. –  Snowbody Nov 14 '11 at 23:27
...or ITWF or Rapid Shot, or the Speed enhancement to a weapon. –  Snowbody Nov 14 '11 at 23:38
There's a monk ability that gives you a free 1d12 attack after an unarmed critical hit, but nothing else to my knowledge that can chain extra attacks onto a crit. Also note that it's rare a normal attack will cause death from massive damage, usually those are crits. –  LitheOhm Sep 18 '12 at 5:12

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