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For reference, the rule on Critical Hits says (PHB, p. 196):

When you score a critical hit, you get to roll extra dice for the attack’s damage against the target. Roll all of the attack’s damage dice twice and add them together. Then add any relevant modifiers as normal. [...] If the attack involves other damage dice, such as from the rogue’s Sneak Attack feature, you roll those dice twice as well.

There are a number of creatures in the game which do a fixed amount of damage on a hit (rather than rolling a damage die). Do these attacks do extra damage on a critical hit?

One example is the Sprite:

Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1 slashing damage.

Since no die is rolled, does the sprite deal 1 or 2 points of damage on a critical hit? Rules as Written based answers are preferred (and seem to support not doubling), but a developer ruling or statement would be much appreciated.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Does an unarmed strike get double damage on a critical hit? \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Aug 31, 2020 at 18:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would like to vote to reopen this. I don't think it is a duplicate of the linked question because that question has a different answer, 'unarmed attacks are a specific exception to the damage is rolled' rule, which can't be the answer to this question. Unfortunately I can't vote to open this without forcing it with my gold. I would like to hear from @Someone_Evil why they initially linked it without closing as a dupe. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Dec 3, 2023 at 18:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ As the question asker, I'm fine with the earlier question taking precedence, but have edited the text of that question to match its explanation, since it does reference "any other attacks that always deal 1 damage", and unarmed attacks have common builds (monks, tavern brawlers, for example) that change the base damage of an "unarmed attack". With the rewording, this is an even closer copy to the earlier question. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 17, 2023 at 0:47

2 Answers 2

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Only Damage Dice Are Rolled Twice.

You quoted the relevant section:

Roll all of the attack’s damage dice twice and add them together.

That is the rule.

In order to add anything else to the damage of a critical hit, you would need to find an exception to it - such as the one found in the description of the legendary magic item Wave (DMG, p. 218):

If you score a critical hit with it, the target takes extra necrotic damage equal to half its hit point maximum.

As it stands, you are rolling no damage dice to deal the 1 damage, so "rolling all of the attack's damage dice twice" causes no change in the damage dealt.

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The general rule is that any damage is a roll

As you have noted, a critical hit permits an extra roll of damage dice, but does not change any modifications to the roll. That might make it seem like 'flat damage' is not augmented by a critical, but note that damage is defined as a die or dice as a general rule. From the PHB on Damage Rolls (emphasis mine):

Each weapon, spell, and harmful monster ability specifies the damage it deals. You roll the damage die or dice, add any modifiers, and apply the damage to your target. Magic weapons, special abilities, and other factors can grant a bonus to damage.

Damage requires a roll of a damage die, or dice, by definition. Modifiers are qualified as 'any', indicating that they may or may not be present, but no such qualification is made for damage dice. Damage is a roll; we are not told 'You take any flat damage value, roll and add any damage die or dice, add any modifiers, and apply the damage to your target'.

Some damage effects (like oil or an unarmed attack) specify that they do a certain amount of base damage, which is not rolled. This is a specific exception to the general rule that damage is rolled on a damage die or dice. The sprite longsword itself includes no such rule (but see below). However, monster damage has its own specific rules as presented in the Monster Manual (emphasis in the original):

Hit. Any damage dealt or other effects that occur as a result of an attack hitting a target are described after the "Hit" notation. You have the option of taking average damage or rolling the damage; for this reason, both the average damage and the die expression are presented.

For the sprite, the damage is presented as:

Hit: 1 slashing damage.

Since there is only one damage presented ("1") and with the expectation that "both the average damage and the die expression are presented", "1" must therefor represent both the average damage and the die roll. Thus the roll is a 1d1, whose only outcome is 1 damage, which is also the average of the roll. However, on a critical, the damage dice would be doubled to 2d1, or 2.

Roll20 supports this interpretation

In roll20, the damage listing for a sprite longsword is presented as:

Hit: 1 (1d1) slashing damage

Here, the damage roll of 1d1 is made explicit and, when a sprite rolls a critical hit, the damage is shown as 1 + 1 in the text bar, as predicted if the base damage of 1 represented a roll.

It should be noted that roll20 offers an unofficial interpretation of RAW. For example, the roll20 descriptions of spells explicitly list spell targets, while in the PHB these are generally implicit. That roll20 chooses to represent sprite longsword damage as a roll is interesting support, but not an official interpretation.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As a matter of fact, I was the contractor tasked to go through the entire Roll20 5e Compendium and make that specific change to all creatures that dealt one point of damage. The reason has nothing to do with a D&D rules interpretation, and everything to do with making the data consistent. :) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 17, 2023 at 0:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @keithcurtis Interesting. Consistent with what - that a critical hit always scores extra damage, or that damage is always represented as a die roll? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Dec 17, 2023 at 3:46

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