Question 1: Say a player has a sword that enables him to add 1d8 damage as a free action whenever he hits an enemy. Can he choose to activate it upon a critical strike for an automatic 8 damage, or does he need to say that he wants to activate the weapon BEFORE making an attack roll? Or does damage from free activates simply not figure into automatic max damage from a crit?

Question 2: Say a player is about to make a coup de grace. Does anything prevent him from using several free action damage add ons from various sources (powers, magic items, etc) for a big damage boost?


Does extra damage get maximized? Maybe – it depends on the source of the extra damage.

Extra damage that is applied to any type of attack, rather than extra damage applied just a critical hit, is maximized.

See Does sneak attack damage do max damage on a critical hit?, which references two sources:

  • Rules Q&A: General Combat, in answer to "Which dice do you max on a critical hit?"

  • This Twitter exchange:

    Johnathan Drain: @mikemearls Rogue's Sneak Attack damage and Ranger's Hunter's Quarry, maximized on a crit? ‪#D‬&D4E

    Mike Mearls: @jonathandrain Yes, they are both maximized.

Extra damage that is applied specifically to critical hits is not maximized, as explained in the DDI entry for critical hits.

And of course there is also a dependency on the timing of the power that grants you the extra damage. Sneak Attack, Power Strike, Hunter's Quarry and the like all are declared after you have hit, and so after you know you scored the critical. A free action that had a trigger along the lines of "you attack an enemy" and granted bonus damage dice to that attack would need to be declared before the attack roll, and so one could not wait for the crit to declare them (though damage dice would still be maximized)

Can a player stack on the bonus damage dice when making a coup-de-grace? Yes. It's a normal attack action and can be loaded down with all the oomph that can be mustered.

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To both, Yes but...

If that damage is applied because of a crit then it is rolled. If the damage is unrelated to weather or not you crit then it is maximized.

D&D Player's Handbook FAQ:

Which dice do I maximize when scoring a critical hit?
Only the dice you would normally roll to calculate damage are maximized. If another bonus (like from a weapon or feat) causes you to roll extra damage dice when scoring a critical hit, those dice are rolled as normal.

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Extra damage is generally not maximized, from DDI:

Extra Damage: Magic weapons and implements, as well as high crit weapons, can increase the damage you deal when you score a critical hit. If this extra damage is a die roll, it’s not automatically maximum damage; you add the result of the roll.

If you have a specific power in mind, please mention it so that we can answer that directly.

A Coup de Grace attack is just a regular attack, you can use whatever you would normally to increase the damage. That will get you closer to the bloodied value (and killing the creature outright.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, Hunter's Quarry and a Warlock's Curse damage, for one thing. And here's an example of extra damage from an actual POWER (Dark Reaping, Dragons#376,p.35): Free Action Trigger: A creature within 5 squares of you is reduced to 0 hit points Effect: One creature you hit with an attack you make before the end of your next turn takes an additional 1d8 + Constitution modifier necrotic damage. The circumstances are pretty specific for this one, but it was the best example I could come up with on the fly. \$\endgroup\$ – Ravn Mar 31 '12 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just read a ruling on Quarry and Curse, they are not maximized. Still wondering about powers like Dark Reaping, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Ravn Mar 31 '12 at 18:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ravn - where is this ruling on Quarry and Curse not being maximized on a crit? That would appear to contradict what WotC has previously ruled. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon Withers Mar 31 '12 at 23:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, was actually supposed to be 'are maximized'. Don't know how I managed to write the opposite.. \$\endgroup\$ – Ravn Apr 1 '12 at 8:44

Sorry, you are wrong. Sneak attack damage and Hunters Quarry Damage are NOT MAXIMIZED.
1- in their descriptions it refers to them as EXTRA DAMAGE. 2- the rules for critical hit says all EXTRA damage is not maximized. (see #1) 3- the rules for critical hit says the POWER is maximized. 4- Both sneak attack and hunters quarry are separate abilities which deal damage depending upon a hit... they do not modify the attack power used. (see #3)

I just sent a message to wizards and asked them directly.. here's what they sent me

"Any time you get a critical hit, you can maximize only the base roll of the die, whether this is a power or regular attack. This means an extra damage that requires additional rolling of dice, such as sneak attack, must be rolled and cannot take maximum damage. "

So.. yeah. Cheers!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE Leotalus! Please visit the help center for more information about the site. As to your answer, it appears that it is actually a comment about someone else's answer. Those should not be posted as answers, but rather left as comments when you get enough rep. Or, if you can formulate an actual answer to the question, that would be even better. This is the probable reason for the -tive votes on your question. I'd suggest revisiting you answer with that in mind. \$\endgroup\$ – Chuck Dee Mar 4 '14 at 2:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Leotalus That message directly contradicts the sources Simon Withers and SevenSidedDie provided. It probably warrants a follow-up, but until further elaboration I'd trust verified addresses from an official FAQ and Mike Mearls over one unverified email from an unknown employee. \$\endgroup\$ – Ravn Mar 4 '14 at 6:48

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