Adventure Trove: Exploits
Rather than keep track of feats, which at a certain point seem to generate characters who are still more or less the same, or broken in some way, Adventure Trove allows character customization in a different way. Exploits are benefits, usually on timing of actions, which the player defines for his own character. There are example exploits for most skills, but the player chooses them him or herself, and can make new ones up at whim with GM approval. These exploits are then enacted during combat or roleplaying situations through luck. Moreover, acquiring exploits occurs as both an advancement option, and as a free side effect of obtaining significant mastery of a skill, beginning at rank 3 and again at rank 5 and 7 (the highest skill rank possible).
Larissa Claremont, Human Burglar
Strength 1 (Condition 2), Agility 2 (Quickness 3), Perception 1, Intellect 1 (Wits 3), Presence 1 (Charisma 3)
Athletics 3, Domestics 1, Negotiation: Bargaining 1, Search 3, Thievery 3
Other Skills (Active, Observation)
Acrobatics 2, Brawling 1, Manipulation 2, Notice 2, Stealth 3, Surveillance 2, Weapons: Knives 2
Ambidexterity, Comeliness, Contacts (Aron the Knife, Minor Crimelord), Faith, Lore (Crime), Night Vision
Defense: 3 Armor: Light Leathers (1) Total: 4
Punch AC: -1, 4D, Damage 1, 4 Damage on Strong Strike
Kick AC: +0, 4D, Damage 1, 5 Damage on Strong Strike
Long Knife AC: -1, 5D, 3 Damage, 6 Damage on Strong Strike
Throwing Knives AC: -1, 4D, 2 Damage, 6 Damage on Measured Shot, Short Range
2X Athletics – Superleap: Halve AC cost of a movement involving a leap.
2X Search – Eye of the Ferret: Gain an extra success when looking for hidden gems and metal.
2X Stealth – Disappearance: Make an immediate Stealth check, suffering a -1D penalty if in plain sight.
2X Thievery – Quick Pick: Bypass a lock in half the normal AC cost.
Larissa is another example character, and as you can see her Exploits are not as combat based as Theoren’s are. This is because her best skills are thievery related, as she is a burglar. She is still a good fighter, but this has more to do with the fact that she uses weapons that play to her strengths, rather than high skill ranks or valuable damage dealing exploits.
As an example of what I consider good Exploits for the knives weapon group, here are two choices from the chart.
2X – Wide Swing: Immediately perform an Arcing Strike for 1 less AC.
2X – Armor Piercing Blow: Ignore 2 Defense on this hit.
Typically a weapons group will have one entry level exploit which adds half of a relevant aspect to damage, so that explains Swift Slice and Solid Hit from Theoren’s sheet. There will usually be an alternative which provides benefits inherent to fighting with such a weapon, but it won’t deal with direct damage.
For axes it is:
2X – Herding: Move opponent a short distance in a direction of your choice.
The other variant for Unarmed is Sucker Punch which is mechanically identical to Swift Slice, but since Theoren’s Acuity is average his player went for Flurry instead.
At any time when you make an active roll, i.e. your character attempts a significant action, (i.e. it has an action cost, and you actually roll and the result matters), you can potentially roll doubles, triples, quadruples or more. You essentially have an opportunity for an exploit whenever you roll more than 1 die. You can only activate an exploit with the requisite number of matched dice, so if you have earned a 3X exploit, you can only use it if you roll a triple match in your dice pool. Now for the drawbacks, you can only use one exploit per round, but it doesn’t have to be an exploit tied to the action at hand. This is why Larissa isn’t crippled in combat, even though she isn’t a fighter by trade.
At any time Larissa’s player rolls doubles, he or she can activate Superleap, Disappearance or Eye of the Ferret. The former would give her quick mobility when diving for cover or using the terrain to her advantage, and given her theme of taking quick actions repeatedly to overcome her lack of punch this is valuable to her. The use of Disappearance would allow her to hide from an opponent and shadow them from behind, or even escape combat entirely. Eye of the Ferret might clue her in to a weapon hidden on her opponent’s person which she could use a Sleight of Hand roll to lift in the heat of combat. Her last exploit, Quick Pick, is pretty useless against an opponent, but it is of great use if the GM is counting ticks while certain doom approaches the party, and they are trapped in front of a locked door.
So, she could make a thrown knife attack and roll doubles, allowing her to tack on a dive for cover action for very low action cost, or she could kick an ambusher with a strong strike, and after rolling doubles practically disappear from his sight while taking the time to draw her long knife. There isn’t a requirement that she be trying to be stealthy to invoke Disappearance. In fact, that’s the point of an exploit. It’s something one of your better skills gives you as a bit of character flair, which you can use in other situations than just the one the skill calls for.
I’m also contemplating the following optional rule because I like allowing players to make their own luck sometimes:
You can bank a multiple until later in the same scene, spending it to invoke an exploit at a later time without needing to roll multiples to enact it. For example, if you roll a quadruple match, but you don’t want to use it now, or the situation would be weird if you used it now but you could certainly use it later on, then you can hold onto the match and use it next round, the round after that, etc. If you use colored beads at your table, pick up a number of beads equal to the match size. If you already had banked a multiple, but you roll a higher one and wish to bank it, it replaces the one that is currently banked. In other words, add enough beads to rise to the match you just made.