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Are Critical Failures a subset of Failures, or a separate thing?

One person I play with says that Halfling Luck does not trigger on Critical Failures, as it just says:

Trigger You fail a skill check or saving throw.

My counter example is the Warmarch Hobgoblin heritage:

If you fail, but not critically fail, to Subsist in the wilderness, you can still keep yourself fed with poor meals.

If Critical Failures were not a subset, this language were not necessary.

The Determine the Degree of Success is not clear on this topic either, but seems to indicate that Critical Failure is just part of Failure:

If a feat, magic item, spell, or other effect does not list a critical success or critical failure, treat is as an ordinary success or failure instead.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This would apply to "success" and "critical success" as well - would you mind editing in (or if I edited in) a phrase at the end like "This presumably could mean that critical successes are a subset of successes (or not, depending on the answer"? That could help someone using the site search in the future find this question if they're just looking for successes. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Feb 5, 2023 at 7:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ESCE feel free to add it, but in my experience the site search only considers the title \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Feb 5, 2023 at 21:48

2 Answers 2

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Critical Failures are Failures

Check results are first described in the introduction of the Core Rulebook under Playing the Game:

Once a check is rolled, the GM compares the result to a target number called the difficulty class (DC) to determine the outcome. If the result of the check is equal to or greater than the DC, the check is successful. If it is less, the check is a failure. Beating the DC by 10 or more is referred to as a critical success, which usually grants an especially positive outcome. Similarly, failing the check by 10 or more is a critical failure (sometimes called a fumble). This sometimes results in additional negative effects.

Note that not all checks have a special effect on a critical success or critical failure and such results should be treated just like an ordinary success or failure instead.

Many rules take care to explicitly separate the two, but there is no general rule separating ordinary failures from critical failures. As such, both would qualify as 'failures'.

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If it misses the DC, it's a failure.

pg. 10 of the Core Rulebook states:

Once a check is rolled, the GM compares the result to a target number called the difficulty class (DC) to determine the outcome. If the result of the check is equal to or greater than the DC, the check is successful. If it is less, the check is a failure.

If you incur a Critical Failure by missing the DC by 10 or more, this satisfies the "result of check is less than DC" condition of a check being a failure.

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