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I'd like to know all the ways to auto-crit. The only ways I know are through the paralyzed and unconscious conditions, and the Assassin rogue's Assassinate ability.

The only ways I know to impose the paralyzed condition is through the spells hold person and hold monster; and the unconscious condition through the spells sleep, eyebite L6 (can cause sleep), and symbol L7 (can cause sleep). And, possibly the command spell to cause sleep for 1 turn if the DM allows it.

So for doing this somewhat reliably and not being over level 10, boils down to sleep, and hold person/hold monster.

What's the comprehensive list of ways to auto-crit in D&D 5e?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Tags are for describing the question, not anticipated answers, so I've removed the irrelevant tags. Also, given that you have quite a substantial list of anticipated ways to do so in the question, you should probably edit them out of the question and leave them as a self-answer to your question instead. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 26 at 7:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would not advise posting those as an answer (nor advising people to do so). Posting one's current understood options in the question is fine, it shows research effort. However it also often makes for a weak answer — the OP is asking for a reason and so often isn't in a position to confidently answer their question. After all, they are trying to find all the options: they can't also definitively say this is all of them. If they have listed all the options, answers can confirm that. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 26 at 7:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm by no means an experienced stackexchanger, but aren't there discussions against list questions? \$\endgroup\$ – L0neGamer Apr 26 at 8:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @L0neGamer See What is the definition of a list question?. They aren't questions that will necessarily contain lists, but instead questions that will attract an indefinite number of answers none of which are better or worse than any other. It is an old and sort of misleading adage, now we identify them as these questions to avoid asking (the middle bulleted list). Those bullet points are a better way to describe these questions but those got worked out much later than "list questions" got coined. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 26 at 9:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ ... that said, I'm updating this question. "What are some ways to do X?" attracts an endless list of answers, each one of which will suggest one or more ways to do the thing, none of them necessarily any better or more correct than any other. Instead it should ask "What are all the ways to do X?", which necessarily means an answer is only good if it has comprehensive coverage. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 26 at 9:43
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You got most of them, but you failed to consider magic items, you missed a couple of spells, and you were only thinking of creatures

There are two classes of targets that we want to consider here:

  • Objects
  • Creatures

Objects

For objects, we obviously can't impose a condition, so we need to look at magic to help us here.

Fortunately there is a Magic Item called

Shatterspike (from Out of the Abyss)

which states:

[...]. If it hits an object, the hit is automatically a critical hit, [...]

Alternatively, from XGtE, if you are in possession of an Adamantine Weapon it will auto-crit objects when it hits.1

Creatures

If a creature is wearing Adamantine Armor you can't crit it, as the armor turns critical hits into normal hits.1

As you've noted the first port of call is to look at imposing a condition on a creature. The conditions which enable an automatic critical hit are:

  • Paralyzed (auto-crit if you hit)
  • Unconscious (auto-crit if you hit)

How can we impose these conditions?

Lets address Unconscious first:

  • Reduce them to 0 hit points, they are then unconscious and you can start wailing on their body
  • Cast one of the following spells:
  • Charm the single enemy, and then cast Astral Projection to bring their bodies on a journey with you. Their bodies are now unconscious, and your party can score critical hits against them.
  • Have/summon a pet monster that can impose the Unconscious condition

Now lets look at imposing Paralyzed:

  • The following Magic Items can impose the Paralyzed condition:
  • The following spells can impose the paralyzed condition:
    • Hold Monster
    • Hold Person
    • Command (though this one is very iffy)
    • Suggestion (you can suggest the creature go to sleep as soon as possible, and once they are asleep they are by definition unconscious)
  • Have/summon a pet monster that can impose the Paralyzed condition

Additionally, if you are an Assassin Rogue and can get surprise on a creature then you can auto-crit them when you hit. This is a one turn per combat feature, but it is very strong.

Finally, if we can turn a Creature into an Object, then we can score critical hits against it's object form with the aforementioned methods. Whether or not scoring those criticals is useful is beyond the scope of this answer.

How do we turn a creature into an object?

You cast True Polymorph, or kill them.

If you rule that a petrified creature is an object (i.e. they are both an object and a creature simultaneously) then casting Flesh to Stone or having a pet Medusa/Basilisk petrify them would also suffice. See this Q&A for more on that debate.


1: Thanks to @Pilchard123 for these two references

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  • \$\begingroup\$ From XGtE, adamantine weapons that hit objects autocrit, and they're entirely mundane. Adamantine weapons also bypass some types of resistance/immunity. Adamantine armor negates all crits against the wearer. \$\endgroup\$ – Pilchard123 Apr 26 at 10:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ You should probably include where the Shatterspike item is from \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Apr 26 at 10:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pilchard123 Thanks, added both. \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Apr 26 at 11:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ I wonder if a 20 on a Divination Wizard's Portent roll comes under "automatic crits"? Certainly you won't have access to this way of automatically critting every day, but there will be some days when you do. \$\endgroup\$ – Vigil Apr 26 at 12:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GaelL it would indeed. Please add in the details! \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Apr 26 at 16:09

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