The GRIMDARK system is my attempt to create “gritty” rules for #DnD 5th edition that emulates dark fantasy and horror. Essentially there are changes to how AC, Hit Points, Damage, Critical Hits, and Healing function within your game of 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons.

Critical hits are more frightening in GRIMDARK. Page 106 of the 5th edition Player’s Handbook discusses the standard rules for Critical Hits. However, in GRIMDARK things transpire a little differently.


Yes, because in GRIMDARK the monsters already have enough advantages in that their stats are calculated normally as per the 5th edition Dungeon & Dragons rules. The monsters will have a higher Armor Class, more Hit Points, and all that jazz. They don’t need critical hits. Sorry, DM, that thrill of rolling a “20” is now reserved for your players. So don’t be a turd! Celebrate with them when they roll a Critical Hit. Give them high fives, shout with joy, or do whatever it is that you are your friends do when that “20” shows up.

So, when a “20” is rolled on an Attack roll, the hit is automatically a Critical Hit. A Critical Hit always deals more damage, even more so in GRIMDARK, called “Critical Damage.” When you score a Critical Hit, you roll extra dice for the attack damage against the target. Roll all of the attack’s damage dice twice and add them together and DOUBLE it. Then add any relevant modifiers as normal.

For example, Shimmershine scores a Critical Hit with his dagger.  Normally the dagger would inflict 1d4 damage so a Critical Hit scores as 2d4 instead. Rolling 2d4, Shimmershine’s player gets a result of “5”. The “5” is doubled to 10. Since Shimmershine has a STR modifier of +1, the “10” becomes an “11.” The Critical Hit with the dagger inflicts a total of “11” Critical Damage points. 

Although we won’t get too far into it right now, it’s important to separate Critical Damage from normal damage. Why? Because in GRIMDARK a character cannot use Recovery Time to heal Critical Damage. This sort of damage has specific rules for healing and recovery. More on that is discussed in the Recovery section of the Grimdark document.

But HOLD ON, we’re not done yet. Getting a Critical Hit is a BIG DEAL in the GRIMDARK system so it is given a spotlight. The fun continues with a second roll after the total Critical Damage, in this case, “11” is determined. This second roll is not an actual attack, but instead referred to as a “check.” Roll normally as if making an attack and if the roll comes up as a “20” again, this is referred to as a “CRITICAL CRITICAL.”  Yeah, it’s silly. But say it often enough and it’s fun. Shout it and it’s even more fun. “Critical Critical!” GO ahead, try shouting it now. You know you want to. 

TIME SAVER TIP: If you’re a DM like me, you want to consolidate time as much as possible. You can always do the check right away after the Critical Hit is rolled. Simply have the player make the check right away while the adrenaline is pumping and the players at the table are celebrating the Critical Hit already. 

Anyway, when a “Critical Critical” happens, it’s a REALLY BIG DEAL. When a player pulls off rolling two “20’s” in a row, that’s amazing. In such a situation,  the enemy suffers SYSTEM SHOCK. Refer to page 273 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide for the chart used with determining the effects of SYSTEM SHOCK. 

Now that’s pretty awesome, but “Critical Criticals” don’t happen all the time. That’s why there’s more to it than just that. So your player scores a Critical Hit applies the damage, and checks for a Critical Critical.  In any case, the playing character gets to make a new Attack Action as a result of rolling so well. Yes, this is a whole new Action, not just an attack. So if the PC gets three attacks an Action, it’s party time as he or she gets three more swings at the bad guy.

So that means Shimmershine (a fighter who has two attacks for each Attack action) makes another two attacks. If another Critical Hit is scored, the process is repeated until either the target is defeated or no more Critical Hits are scored.

So that’s Critical Hits work in the GRIMDARK system. The idea here is to make Critical Hits even more exciting for the players and combat even more dangerous against the monsters who already have a bit of more of an edge on the PCs. Remember D&D is all about having fun, so loosen up and let the dice fly. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the GRIMDARK system, please check it out at the DM’s Guild:  — you can download the bare bones sneak peek document for $1.00 right now. 


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