Conversation with a friend about dnd/icrpg


I was hanging out with a friend the other day, talking about dnd/rpgs as we usually do, and I was telling him about playing icrpg with my wife/kids and how it went. I said something to the effect of “my son rolled a nat 20 on such and such skill check” and he informed me that “nat 20s aren’t critical successes on skill checks in dnd.” I told him that was how we do it at my table regardless of what the rules say, which he was fine with.

He then asked me the popular hypothetical question of the player that asks the king to give him the kingdom and rolls a nat 20. “Would you give him the kingdom?” I said “of course, but maybe the kings hand immediately assassinates him? Maybe the burden of being king is so heavy that the characters adventuring days must come to an end and the player has to make a new character?” The point being that the player succeeded at the task, but the outcome may not have be what he expected.

I bring all of this up to ask this: how do you handle nat 20s at your table? I’m personally a big fan of the idea that a player can attempt anything they want. If it’s something that should be incredibly difficult, then success can only happen on a nat 20. Hell, even I’ll even allow attempts at something completely impossible if it sounds fun and has good roleplay attached to it, “you want to fly your dragon to the moon, collect moon dust, bring it back and use it to forge an axe? Roll two nat 20s back to back.”



This knuckleheaded nonsense. Tell your friend to free his mind. “Free your mind, Quaid.” Any time someone espouses this type of closed minded thinking (“the rules DON’T ALLOW…”) my eyes always narrow.

In any event, a natural 20 is always a critical success in my games. That being said, a critical “success” doesn’t mean that something outlandish always happens. After all, there are rules of physics, so to speak. In your example, “give me your kingdom,” a Nat20 might mean the king is suddenly super fond of the PC, maybe even granting him land, and I might give the PC a +1 bonus to charisma on the spot, but the king also wouldn’t turn his heirs into paupers at the mere ask of a stranger, I don’t care how persuasive he is. So, I am all for a critical success, bounded by a bit of what makes sense in that moment of the fiction/reality of the world. Of course, depending on your world, it might mean the PC is now king. “Thank you so much for relieving me of this burden!” It’s just going to depend on your group, your table, your world, and that moment in the fiction.


He’s a good guy, so I didn’t take it so much as “you’re doing it wrong and it has to be this way”, but yeah, I just kinda chuckled and moved on. He’s also pretty new to ttrpg and dnd specifically , as am I, so I just figure that’s how he digests the game for comprehension.

I came to terms very quickly that I would have zero fun attempting to keep up with all the specific rules and exceptions to rules to run 5e. So I started seeking out other rule systems to try out and ultimately decided that icrpg was just rigid enough to give me a framework to play in, but absolutely open enough that I would be able to “freehand” it at the table so to speak.

Since my “gaming group” consists of my wife, our 12 yr old daughter, 10 yr old son, and 5 yr old son, if I am going to be the one running games for them, it has to be fun for me too.

As for this, with my kids the outlandish stuff is part of the fun. I want to encourage then to come up with off the wall solutions to problems, sometimes even to the point of unrealistic. I ran them through “the tower of orvald” adventure the other night, my 5 yr old collected a stretcher from one of the loot rolls at some point, as well as demon powder. My wife threw her oil bottle onto the Avenger which then caught fire. The 5 yr old threw his demon powder onto the burning Avenger, spawning his demon helper. He then says “I want to use the stretcher with my helper and we are going to use it as like a slingshot to throw the bad guy into the wall!” I loved it, little man got a hero coin.


Epic! Sounds like a ton of fun!!! Keep on rocking!!!


I agree with what’s already been said, but my little spin on it is simply that I like to view Crits (both successes and failures) as narrative elements, in addition to whatever mechanical bonuses I get in the moment.

Like your King example. It doesn’t make sense that he’d just hand over the kingdom, but if a player got a Nat 20 in that moment, I’d hope to use it to inform the narrative. The King busts out laughing, “Haha! I like your moxie., kid! It takes real guts to approach a king like that and that’s just what I need right now.” The players then get brought into the King’s confidence as trusted adventurers and become much more privy to the kingdom as a whole because they gained the King’s favor.

On the flip side, a Nat 1 at that moment can inform the narrative the other way. Instead of gaining the King’s favor, it draws his ire. Not enough to punish them and have the players arrested on the spot (because that doesn’t make much sense either), but perhaps it makes the alliance between the players and the king uncertain. He won’t be as forthcoming with information or whatever.

Outlandish things and doing the impossible are a huge part of what makes critical fun, but combine that with some narrative flavor and that’s where I think some juicy tidbits can be found. I love Critical Failures for that reason. They don’t just mean instadeath or the worst possible thing happening. Just adds complication to the mix :smiley:


So let me ask you this, in your example when you called for the d20 roll would you tell the player that he is rolling to see if the king gives up his crown or would you tell the player he is rolling to see how positive/negative the king reacts? Or maybe not tell the player what the roll is representing at all? Either way seems fun to me, but I know, for example, if my wife was the player in question asking the king to give her his crown and said said “roll for persuasion” she would assume that if she rolled a 20 she would be given the crown. Pitfalls lol! Again, we are all really new to ttrpgs, and are having a bunch of fun with it.


I’m with Kane. If a player said, “I want to ask the king for his kingdom,” I would simply say, “Give me a charisma roll.” In that moment, I probably won’t qualify the roll until I see the results. If it happens to land on a Nat 20, then you have to assume something amazing happens, but it doesn’t have to always be EXACTLY what the player wants. “I won’t just hand over the kingdom, but I love your spirit. Here, take this deed down to my exchequer. I am gifting you 40 acres along the western edge of the kingdom.” And then one day, your players will say, “And that’s how we ended up with an estate in Waterdowne.”

On the other hand, to your point about playing with kids, then it should be over the top. “Of course! The kingdom is yours!” lol


That’s a really good question! If I was in that situation, I’d probably ask some clarifying questions about what the player was after to ensure I was on the same page and understood, then I’d go with something along the lines of “Give me a CHA roll and let’s see what happens!” Then whatever comes up on the dice, we can discuss if the results, if needed. Oh, you got a Nat 20, that’s incredible! I’m not sure he’d give you his whole kingdom just by asking, but maybe you could go on a quest to earn a title in the realm, or maybe he’s got a summer home you can be granted since you did just save the whole kingdom from a fearsome dragon.

I don’t think these kinds of edge-case moments should just be immutable results. Rather, this is the perfect time where we break into a conversation and talk through what we all think would be cool :smiley:


I can’t remember the source of the “nat 20 success” thing, but it’s an evergreen source of great jokes and arguments of dubious sincerity. The earliest I can remember was high school (early 90s) when a nat 20 backstab on Strahd with a non-magical weapon ended in an… uncomfortable result.

In that vein, though, in any sort of gonzo campaign (especially with kids) the nat 20 success can lead to some hilarious and/or awesome hijinks. Even in a more serious game it’s an opportunity to play things out where the surprising emergent results can lead to a really fruitful direction. (most of my points have already been made upthread but there you go)


Yeah for me and mine, it’s all about the spontaneity of the moment with stuff like this. Like suggested above, we could have a fun little conversation about what being gifted a kingdom could mean or any crazy riff off from what they came up with. Fortunately none of my kids have asked a king for his crown yet, but I wouldn’t put it past one of then. I think if that situation were to occur (nat 20 to convince the king to hand over the kingdom) I might present it as a sort of vision the PC has of a future where they are the king and describe the burdens that come along with it…“is this really where you see yourself?” Then another member of the party wakes them from their daydream!


Party member B slaps party member A to wake them up. Nat 20…


Context matters. I couldn’t care less if you rolled a 20 crossing the street. If I ask for a roll, it’s because the outcome matters. Sometimes, 20 is a critical success; other times, you simply succeed. Likewise, asking for the key to the kingdom, unless you can convince me why the king would walk away from his kingdom, you just don’t get a roll. It isn’t even in the realm of possibility.


Yeah, I wouldn’t ask for a roll to cross the street…unless there was high speed traffic, at which point the roll/outcome would matter…

If I’m asked for something that “isn’t even in the realm of possibility.” I typically will take a second and see if I personally can come up with a reason that it could happen and I’ll ask the player why/how that could happen. If I find either interesting/playable in our game/story, then I’ll call for a roll or not.


I was incredulous at first, but I kinda love the idea of someone approaching the king and saying, “Your majesty, I think I should really be king, and you should enjoy retirement.” and the king knowing that assassins surround him, and the economy is in shambles takes off his crown, grabs his bags, and says, “Good luck, suckers!” before packing all the gems from the treasury his donkey can carry, taking a tall ship to a warm island with little umbrellas in the drinks.


Another option I haven’t seen in the thread is that the king would make the player a trusted advisor, a high ranking official, or even the overseer of the entire kingdom.


The problem is, again, plausibility.

For example, a reluctant king may actually want to give up the throne. A content king would not. I would not permit a roll to take the king’s kingdom in the latter case unless it served a story purpose. And, should it be story related, No roll needed. You get the kingdom.

The idea that, “Oh, I can try anything because the dice say so.” Is now weird to me. “I roll a d20 to miss the ground.” That’s not how physics works. You just fail and hit the ground. Now, if they were researching a Fly spell.

Again, context matters.


Again, why a trusted advisor? Unless the OC has demonstrated trustworthiness, why even allow a roll? Dude doesn’t trust you yet. Which is why I keep coming back to context. WHY are you rolling?


Because, in the moment, it’s fun. No one is saying “roll every time, for everything” or even that you have to play this way at your tables. All we are saying is that sometimes this can be fun. Doesn’t mean we do it every time, or even most of the time. The point of this thread wasn’t to get some sort of blessing for how I, or anyone else, handle calling for rolls or nat 20s. It was simply a question put forth about how others do it… you know, for conversation.


Certainly, this is a, you know, conversation.

So, this was just for fun at the table, and that’s fine. I can also say, “Where is the believability?”

For example, would you allow a d20 roll just for fun to miss the ground or summon a fiery conflagration? SOMEWHERE, there are rules for this fun. I draw one line at just taking a Kingdom for free, for example.


One concrete example for you is I’ve had a player run up the EDGE of a giant’s great sword, take a flying leap then decapitate it.

I’m ok with it.