Most rulesets have rules for critical successes and critical failures. Based on the die rolls, things can work out really bad or really good. Most dice mechanics have higher rates of criticals than “real life”, but then again, RPGs offer a larger-than-life experience, and things going epically good or bad are a large part of that.
There are a lot of ‘war stories’ from critical dice results, as those moments allow for over-the-top results — I still remember some criticals from two decades ago, because they pushed the narrative into unexpected directions. It’s no coincidence that there are memes for critical failures and for critical successes!
Interestingly enough, one of my favourite rulesets, the Powered by the Apocalypse rules, does not have criticals. And for some reason, I never missed them in those games. I think this is because the actions of the characters are much less ‘restrained’ than in ‘traditional’ rulesets, so you get crazy antics anyway.
There is another type of critical: critical thinking about RPGs and the stories that are told. I love that the roleplaying public is diversifying — or at least, the RPG players who are not white dudes get more visibility. RPGs have, for a long time, catered exclusively to white (teenage) dudes, and that has proven to be problematic. Now companies are explicitly diversifying their artwork, their games, and their public. I think that’s great: with more diverse voices, we get more diverse viewpoints and more diverse games!
This critical lens towards RPGs are, could and should be, also improves my own thinking, because I want to do better too. I’m going to call out @POCGamer — I’ve written about his thoughts on ‘Outsider Resolution Bias’ before, and today I read an article from him about Decolonization and Integration in D&D, which certainly broadened my horizon in thinking about games and settings.