Impossible To-Hit Numbers

Sometimes the attacker's to-hit number seems impossible to roll. An attack may be so difficult it requires a roll greater than 20 (on a 20-sided die!), or so ridiculously easy it can be made on a roll less than 1. In both cases, an attack roll is still required!

The reason is simple: With positive die roll modifiers (for magic, Strength, situation, or whatever), a number greater than 20 can be rolled. Likewise, die roll penalties can push the attack roll below 0.

No matter what number a character needs to hit, 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.

Thus, even if a character's chance to hit a monster is 23 and the character has a -3 penalty applied to the die roll, he might be able to score a hit--but only if the die roll is a 20 before any modifiers are applied. Likewise, a character able to hit a monster on a 3 or better, waving a sword +4, could still miss if a 1 is rolled on the die.

There are no sure things, good or bad, in the unpredictable chaos of combat situations.

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