Adventurers may attempt Cinematic, Minor, Major and Rescue Exploits, as outlined below. Major and Rescue Exploits are exclusive to player characters.
Adapted from Sly Flourish
A cinematic exploit offers advantage for big risky cinematic actions the characters take. Characters can get advantage for scaling a steep wall to gain the high ground. They can leap off of balconies, swing from chandeliers, or leap up onto a monster’s back.
Cinematic advantage is all about offering deals; trading in-world fiction and a skill check for advantage on the next attack. This helps draw players out of the mechanics of their characters and into the story of the situation itself.
Most of the time the transactions of cinematic advantage comes down to the following:
• While describing the situation, the DM describes interesting features in the area.
• The player describes how they want to use a feature to get a cinematic advantage.
• The DM determines what attribute and skill (or skills) might be used to accomplish the feat and how difficult it is (usually on a scale of -2 to +6). Tell the player what the modifier is and what penalty they face if they fail so they can make an informed choice.
• The player rolls the check as part of their move or action. On a success, they get advantage on their next attack. On a failure something bad happens depending on what they tried, often falling prone.
When the DM describes the situation during combat, they can clarify what features can be used, perhaps writing them down on a 3×5 card (or in the VTT
chat window). Sometimes players riff off of these ideas and come up with something new. The DM may require the use of an Excelsior point in order for the suggestion to work.
The goal of cinematic advantage to draw the players into the fiction and get the characters to take fun risks to get a boost.
Twenty Examples of Cinematic Advantage
Here are twenty examples of ways characters might get advantage on an enemy. Most of these ways involve succeeding on an ability or skill check as part of their attack action to gain the advantage.
• Leaping off of a balcony
• Climbing onto the back of a larger foe
• Sliding underneath a big foe and slashing at its vitals
• Banking a shot off of a reflective wall
• Leaping over dangerous terrain
• Swinging from a chandelier or rope
• Smashing something an adversary is standing on
• Pocket sand!
• Climbing and leaping off a big statue
• Drawing arcane energy from a shattered crystal
• Climbing to get the high ground
• Drawing energy from a magical monument
• Letting the anger of a desecrated altar flow over you
• Drawing holy energy from an ancient elven fountain
• Vaulting off of a crumbling wall
• Pulling power from an unstable summoning circle
• Balancing on a precarious perch
• Smashing through a door to surprise your foes
• Leaping off of a moving vehicle
• Calling the troubled spirits of the fallen for aid
Characters may attempt various Minor Exploits during combat, often but not always improvised to fit the situation at hand.
Minor Exploits are limited to one target and have instant or short durations (often one round or less). They occur as part of an attack action. Minor Exploits cover the usual range of combat options found in most tabletop RPGs, for example: tripping, pushing, disarming or grabbing hold of an enemy. The GM determines whether a proposed exploit is possible.
For a Minor Exploit to occur, the character must first hit and cause damage as normal. The GM then makes a ruling to resolve the exploit. For example:
• An opposed Str check to knock an opponent off his feet, grab hold of him with one hand, drive him backward 10 feet, or throw him through a window.
• An opposed Dex check to throw sand in an opponent’s eyes, temporarily blinding them for one round.
• An opposed Dex check (perhaps modified by level) to disarm.
Different GMs will make different rulings to suit their table. The above is a guide only.
If the exploit is successful, the intended outcome occurs; the target is tripped, or thrown through the window, etc. The GM makes a ruling to determine the effect. If the exploit fails, see below.
While fighting some beastmen, an adventurer attempts to open a gash on his opponent’s brow to blind him with his own blood. The player rolls a 16 to hit, and causes 3 hit points damage. The GM then calls for an opposed Dex check to see if the wound is in the right location to cause a brow bleed. The check succeeds, and the slash opens a messy wound above the beastman’s eyes, temporarily blinding him until the end of his next turn.
All adventurers may attempt Major Exploits; impressive feats of power and skill that inspire allies and turn the tide of battle. Major Exploits are exclusive to PCs.
An adventurer might shatter a foe’s weapon, impale a wolf on a fence spike, grab an enemy in each hand and crack their skulls together (stunning both of them), decapitate an ogre (subject to the hit dice rule below) or cut off a wyvern’s wing.
In prior LFG campaigns, some successful Major Exploits included:
• Spearing a Tyrannosaurus Rex in one eye, causing it to suffer Perc penalties and a 33% miss chance.
• Finishing off a fearsome witch hunter by trampling him with a horse and carriage.
• Making wild swings with a cold iron flail to drive away three Shades clustered around a fallen ally.
Major Exploits may affect more than one target and can result in very serious and permanent effects, including death. Subject to the rules below, they are limited only by the player’s imagination and the scenario at hand.
• Major Exploits do not increase hit point damage to a single target (but might increase total damage by affecting multiple targets).
• Major Exploits cannot instantly kill or incapacitate a single target, unless the target’s hit dice are less than the adventurer’s level.
• Special exceptions apply to Boss Monsters (LFG Deluxe p.184).
• The GM has the final say on whether a proposed exploit is possible.
For a Major Exploit to occur, the adventurer usually needs to first hit and cause damage as normal. The adventurer then makes a Luck check, modified at the GM’s discretion. If the check is successful the exploit occurs and the character’s Luck attribute is reduced by 1, as usual. The GM makes a ruling to determine the effect.
Whilst fighting some giant scorpions, an adventurer attempts to sever one monster’s poisonous stinger. The GM decides the action is standard for a Major Exploit in his campaign and does not impose any modifiers. The player rolls an 18 to hit, and causes 7 hit points damage. She then makes a Luck check… and succeeds! With a bloody spray, the scorpion’s venomous barb spins off into the sand!
In certain situations, an adventurer may attempt a Rescue Exploit, which may only be used to protect another person or thing. Rescue Exploits are only available when it is not the adventurer’s turn, in response to something happening within approximately 30 ft. A Rescue allows one player to negate or reverse an adverse event for another player or NPC. Rescues are exclusive to PCs.
The player must explain to the table how his adventurer intends to achieve the Rescue. A Rescue might include such things as pushing another adventurer out of harm’s way, using a shield to deflect arrows targeting an ally, or grabbing hold of a henchmen as they plummet into a pit trap.
If the GM agrees a Rescue is possible, the adventurer must first make a successful Dex check to move into position, react fast enough to intervene, etc. If the adventurer moves out of melee, enemies within reach get a free attack as normal.
Finally, the rescuer must make a successful Luck check, modified at the GM’s discretion. If the Luck check is successful, the Rescue occurs, and the rescuer’s Luck attribute is reduced by 1 as usual.
An enemy sorcerer unleashes a blast of lightning at the party’s Magic User, who fails her Luck save and is reduced to zero hit points. The party Rogue declares a Rescue, attempting to push his comrade out of harm’s way.
The GM agrees and calls for a Dex check, which the Rogue successfully makes. The Rogue then makes a Luck check, rolling 1d20 and scoring a 4, well under his Luck attribute of 12. With a warning shout, the Rogue barrels into the Magic User, sending both sprawling out of the path of the sizzling blast!
If a Cinematic, Minor, Major or Rescue Exploit fails, a character may not attempt another exploit against the same target until the circumstances significantly
change in their favor (eg the target becomes Staggered, or an ally comes to assist, etc). The GM determines what qualifies as a significant change. Note that Excelsior may be spent to override this rule.
At the GM’s discretion, a natural 20 on an exploit based attribute or Luck check may result in a special setback. For instance, in the Rescue example above, both the rogue and magic user might be caught in the lightning blast. In the beastman example, the adventurer might lose his grip on his weapon, slip over on some blood, or cry out during an attempt to be stealthy, etc.