This is something I've had to run into when DM-ing. One of my characters has a -1 strength is a small character, and is a rogue. The -1 strength means that when attacking with his dagger, he often has to use the rule that makes the damage 1 instead of 0 (I believe DR always happens at the end of the calculation). I call this "normalization" for my purposes.

I've often wondered (since this affects combat) whether the sneak attack damage is added to the melee damage (which would change whether or not the attack has to be "normalized"). When does a critical hit take effect? I'm pretty sure sneak attack damage isn't multiplied by that. What about if the character is being inspired? The text says that it adds +1 to all melee damage rolls so that seems like it would affect the initial roll (and thus affect the "normalization"). What about if the weapon is enchanted?

I'm mostly looking for an algorithm that can tell me what happens when in the calculations.


1 Answer 1


As per SRD:

A critical hit means that you roll your damage more than once, with all your usual bonuses, and add the rolls together. Unless otherwise specified, the threat range for a critical hit on an attack roll is 20, and the multiplier is ×2.

This means that inspire courage damage, as well as other non-variable bonuses like enhancement bonuses from enchantment, gets multiplied on a critical hit.

Exception: Extra damage dice over and above a weapon’s normal damage is not multiplied when you score a critical hit.

This means that sneak attack, as well as other variable damage bonuses like flaming weapon, do not get multiplied on a critical hit.

And yes, sneak attack is added to the melee damage (and is explicitly confirmed not to multiply on a critical hit):

The rogue’s attack deals extra damage any time her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target. This extra damage is 1d6 at 1st level, and it increases by 1d6 every two rogue levels thereafter. Should the rogue score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied.

Considering damage, we can see that

When your attack succeeds, you deal damage. The type of weapon used determines the amount of damage you deal. Effects that modify weapon damage apply to unarmed strikes and the natural physical attack forms of creatures.


If penalties reduce the damage result to less than 1, a hit still deals 1 point of damage.

Therefore you "normalize" (apply the minimum damage rule) just before applying Damage Reduction.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, that is better, but then when would normalization occur? Before or after the bonuses are applied? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11, 2013 at 15:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Updated the post. Normalization is applied last in damage calculation. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11, 2013 at 16:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, I guess this is a case where having different "pools" damage (like a flaming dagger) would help -- no matter how large the strength penalty, it won't reduce the fire damage. (I think?) \$\endgroup\$
    – starwed
    Jan 11, 2013 at 23:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually it will. Yes, it is counter-intuitive. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 12, 2013 at 11:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JeorMattan (i'm a bit late, but..) Str modifier only affects the base physical damage of the weapon. Additional damage pools (Flaming, Freezing, Sneak, etc) are neither benefitted nor penalized. How would your Str score make flame hotter or ice colder? \$\endgroup\$
    – tzxAzrael
    Apr 18, 2017 at 12:58

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