I am looking for the rules in various 5e D&D books for allowing characters to add 1 or 2 points to their die-roll when they roll slightly too low. Searching Stack Exchange i found this, quoted from pg. 58 of the basic rules:

If the total equals or exceeds the DC, the ability check is a success—the creature overcomes the challenge at hand. Otherwise, it’s a failure, which means the character or monster makes no progress toward the objective or makes progress combined with a setback determined by the DM.

1. I could have sworn i found similar rules to the listed / above in the DMs guide years ago - cannot now. Sorry.

2. Unearthed Arcana may have new and brilliant quasi-rules on this. Cannot find it now.

3. Probably discussed already elsewhere on Stack Exchange. If so, please direct me there.

Where are the rules that allow a DM in 5e D&D to add a point or two on a failed d20 role (combat or not). Any rules. A tweet from His Royal Highness Crawford himself would be grand. It is also called 'Success At A Cost'... perhaps.

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    Feb 5, 2021 at 21:39
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    – Someone_Evil
    Feb 5, 2021 at 21:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just for clarity, you're asking about letting a black-and-white failure have a degree of success, as opposed to basically fudging dice rolls. As most of the description talks about the first, "failing forward" and all that. But the phase "...allowing characters to add 1 or 2 points to their die-roll..." would indicate more towards the second. As in a way to give a temp bonus because otherwise it is catastrophic/derails the game. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Feb 5, 2021 at 22:44

1 Answer 1


These rules are found in the DMG on page 242.

In the Using Ability Scores section of Chapter in the DMG, there is a subsection called "Resolution and Consequences":

You determine the consequences of attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws. In most cases, doing so is straightforward. When an attack hits, it deals damage. When a creature fails a saving throw, the creature suffers a harmful effect. When an ability check equals or exceeds the DC, the check succeeds.

As a DM, you have a variety of flourishes and approaches you can take when adjudicating success and failure to make things a little less black-and-white.

This section goes on to detail "Success at a Cost" and "Degrees of Failure" and how you can give some variety to the results of rolls beyond the simple "pass/fail".

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you. Please let me know if there is a chart or list of examples anywhere else, be that Unearthed Arcana, Crawford tweets or other such sources other than the Fate rule system (which is NOT 5e D&D, obviously). That. Would. Be. Grand. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 5, 2021 at 21:50

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