Great article. I’m on the same path as a GM. For my home brew, I did away with Ultimate damage and introduced something else. When a natural 20 is rolled, players get to roll a d6. A 1 rolled is an instant kill. That “lucky” shot basically just like the arrow to Smaug’s chest through the missing scale for example. If they roll 2 -6… you multiply that by their fist/weapon/magic damage result. This allows for that crit roll resulting in something fantastic no matter what and a chance at the ultimate moment in battle… the lucky shot. Just like a fighter in the ring… all it takes is the right punch at the right time and right place. The “fighters chance” as they call it in the fight game. We all have it.
Punching a fella and roll d20 to hit… roll a 20 and now you roll your d4 for fist damage, I allow adding of strength bonus to this so say they have +3 strength… 1d4+3 is where they are now. Let’s say they roll a 3 so total is 6 damage. Now they get to roll the d6 “ultimate crit” dice (or whatever you wish to call it. I call it “death dice”) and they roll a 5. 5x6 = 30 points of damage.
I think a weak player, a novice player has a chance to kill that dragon as much as anyone else does because luck is luck and it applies to everyone.