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Related question

I was going over the degrees of success rules in relation to the above question and it's answers and came across a bit of rules that seem contradictory.

Step 4: Determine degree of success (Core Rulebook, General Rules, Checks p445)

You critically succeed at a check when a check’s result meets or exceeds the DC by 10 or more. If the check is an attack roll, this is sometimes called a critical hit. You can also critically fail a check. The rules for critical failure—sometimes called a fumble—are the same as those for a critical success, but in the other direction: if you fail a check by 10 or more, that’s a critical failure.

If you rolled a 20 on the die (a “natural 20”), your result is one degree of success better than it would be by numbers alone.

We are, in general, pretty familiar of this concept introduced in the playtest era. However, there are more rules that seem like they may be more specific.

Critical Hits (Core Rulebook, Equipment, Weapons, Attack Rolls p278)

When you make an attack and roll a natural 20 (the number on the die is 20), or if the result of your attack exceeds the target’s AC by 10, you achieve a critical success (also known as a critical hit).

If you critically succeed at a Strike, your attack deals double damage (page 451). Other attacks, such as spell attack rolls and some uses of the Athletics skill, describe the specific effects that occur when their outcomes are critical successes.

This second section makes no accounting for "would have been a success/hit", and says that "When you make an attack and roll a natural 20 [...] you achieve a critical success." Does this make attack an exception to the rules that natural 20's only take you one degree higher on success?

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2 Answers 2

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The errata came

Page 278: In critical hits, "When you make an attack and roll a natural 20...or if the result of your attack exceeds the target's AC by 10" was too broad a brush and thus slightly inaccurate for how to determine a critical hit, in an attempt to state the conditions succinctly. Replace the first section with "When you make an attack and succeed with a natural 20" so that's it's clear the natural 20 must succeed based on the total result in order to get a critical success.

Parsing this

The somewhat poorly written bandaid does accomplish what it sets out to do*. The errata indicates you have to roll a Success against the DC for a natural 20 to critically hit; the line continues (outside of the errata) to also allow critical hits by rolling the DC+10 as before.

*Honestly they should have just rewritten it from the start to remove the line, entirely, but that's just my opinion.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It has been fix (somewhat) in the errata \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Dec 12, 2022 at 8:24
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It would appear so

To requote the text on Critical Hits:

When you make an attack and roll a natural 20 (the number on the die is 20), or if the result of your attack exceeds the target’s AC by 10, you achieve a critical success (also known as a critical hit).

We can see by the intervening or clause that only one of the two conditions must be met, you either need to roll a 20 on the die, or beat the targets AC by 10 points or more. As long as one of those two conditions are met, it should be counted as a critical hit.

This appears to be an exception to the normal rule of "natural 20 improves the success by one step" that applies on other d20 rolls.

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