My Dragonborn Barbarian has animal handling as part of his skillset, which he used to tame a wolf collected from a goblin camp. Now this wolf has proven to be the unsung MVP of our recent encounters lately, even netting a crit kill on a miniboss.

The standard house rules for our group define rolling a 20 on a skill check a crit-skill success, guaranteeing success. Even receiving some minor hyperbole as a bonus. Although in this instance, it's the first time a skill success was used to improve the stats of a another being, so that's where the confusion begins.

When my character goes to try and domesticate him with an animal handling check at level 4, he gets a Nat 20. What happens in that instance? Do the wolf's stats get a bonus or is there no difference?


closed as primarily opinion-based by Rubiksmoose, GreySage, NathanS, Rykara, Jason_c_o May 17 at 19:26

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have any special rules at your table regarding critical rolls on ability checks? Or are you asking about this with the standard ruleset? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 17 at 18:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well I'd like to hear what the standard rules say before consulting my DM. The roll I made was at the end of our last session, so nothing has technically been set in stone as to what will happen to the wolf. I'd like something befitting a crit-success, but not anything necessarily game-breaking either. \$\endgroup\$ – Bravir the Dragonborn Comedian May 17 at 18:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Very, very related: Does a natural 20 on an animal handling check allow a character to affect a tamed non-animal creature? though it's probably not a dupe because of the specific example that was asked about. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 17 at 18:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much for these links. These should answer my questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Bravir the Dragonborn Comedian May 17 at 18:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ You seem to be asking about what would happen according to a house rule your group uses. We obviously have no idea or control over what would happen. \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage May 17 at 18:43

In Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition (and every other version of D&D) there is no special meaning to a natural 20 on a skill check by the rules.

It is not an automatic success and it does not provide any special benefits to the character.

Many DMs will implement house rules, formally or informally, that give a natural 20 some special benefit, but those are house rules and will vary from table to table. In this case, the DM could choose to give the wolf some special bonus in recognition of its impressive rolls, but that would be entirely up to them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It may help to show where rolling crits do have rules and that it doesn't have that for ability checks. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 17 at 18:36

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