Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Did 2E AD&D Introduce the Natural 20?

One of the big reasons I created this blog was to be able to pose questions to the RPG blogosphere, and get some feedback from the collective mind we have going on here. I am in no way a scholar of D&D Edition Comparitive Studies, although I would like to be such an expert. I just don't have the free time these days to devote myself to memorizing the similarities and differences between the editions. I'm hoping that someone out there has the edition knowledge to answer my question. 
So anyway, I've been flipping through my recently acquired (or rather "re-aquired" after my old copies went missing ages ago) 2nd Edition AD&D Player's Handbook, and came across pages 90-91 where it says (under the header "Impossible To-Hit Numbers"):

"...a roll of 20 is always considered a hit and a roll of 1 is always a miss, unless the DM rules otherwise. Under most circumstances, a natural 20 hits and a natural 1 misses, regardless of any modifiers applied to the die roll."
Here's my question (again, because I don't really have the time at the moment to dig through all the D&D editions before 2E to figure this out): Is this the first mention of "natural 20" (and natural 1) in Dungeons & Dragons (Basic and Advanced)?

It pains me that I don't know this bit of information. I am sorta ashamed I have to ask it! But I am really curious to get the skinny on this subject. I look forward to your input, folks!


  1. Delta's D&D Hotspot has a post dealing with your question:


  2. Erik covered you on the use of a natural 20 in the 1e DMG, but also worth reiterating is that a natural 20 was not a guaranteed hit in AD&D, when you needed a 21+ on the to hit roll. (A natural 20 still always saves on a saving throw, and a natural 1 still fails, though, regardless of bonuses).


  3. The first print of B2 Keep on the Borderlands (1979), written for Holmes Basic, states "Unless magic or silver weapons are needed to cause damage (and not available), a roll of 20 will always hit, and a roll of 1 will always miss!" (pg 3).