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Natural Checks
In general, rolling a nat 20 for any saving throw or ability check is a critical success, regardless of modifiers. Rolling a nat 1 for any saving throw or ability check is a critical failure, regardless of modifiers.
The definition of "critical" with regard to a save or check is up to interpretation, for example:
- A critical success on a DEX SAV for half damage may result in no damage;
- A critical failure on a DEX SAV may cause double damage;
- A critical success on a Perception check will reveal all possible percepts with relevant senses (at the highest DC);
- A critical success on an INT-based check will reveal all useful information (e.g., critical success Arcana may be as powerful as Identify);
- A critical failure on an INT-based check may result in believable utter fabrication;
...and so forth.
The DM may decide, even on a nat 20, that a success is utterly impossible given the circumstances.