Unforgiving quality, Exploit Action and Surprise

As a DM, what is your use of the Unforgiving quality of the NPC’s weapons ?

Do you utilise the Exploit Action in combat, thus spending an important Standard Action in the NPC’s turn, or do you just use it only when successfully surpising the PC ?

I find it theoretically difficult to make good use of this quality on attacks that are not meant for surprising attackers, like a final boss in a scenario for example.

What is your use of this quality as a Doom Master ?

For players of Stealth oriented characters or Crafting oriented characters, the Exploit action followed by an attack is VERY effective.
They use it all the time.
Assassin types exploit using Stealth and might generate lots of Momentum doing so (especially with the Bonus Momentum for their Talents), to be able to spend 2 Momentum for a Swift Attack right away (also using the Stealth skill if you have the right Talents). So this is a very deadly option to take out a single, but tough opponent. Not effective against groups, though.

As GM I use this all the time for assassin type NPCs and for creatures with the Grappling quality on their attacks, as this makes the Exploit action to a D0 action, and if you don’t roll it as an Action, it is free, adds Piercing 2 quality to your attack and activates the Unforgiving quality.
Grappling quality is a KILLER. It is really dangerous and can wipe out a Conan PC party quickly if not used sparingly.
And then there are Complications rolled by a PC, giving the NPC the benefit of an Exploit action, which is a perfect kind of Complication.


I use it when warranted. Some few NPCs have relatively lackluster attacks but with Unforgiving to simulate their danger to an unaware individual. I won’t use it for something like a fight with guards but something with a grapple/unforgiving combo attack I certainly will.

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Thank you for your generous answer.

The fact that a grappling character can use Exploit as a Free action - as it is the case for Ambush - is nowhere stated in the Core Rulebook under the Grappling quality. How do you justify this interpretation ?

Also, what do you mean by « Crafting oriented characters » ?

It actually is under the Grappling Quality description:

Against an ensnared
target, the Difficulty of the Exploit Action is reduced by
one step.

Exploit Action is usually a D1 action. This makes it a D0 action.
If you choose not to roll dice on a D0 action, this does not take any action, neither Minor nor Standard action. Thus, the Exploit is a Free action - but with only two advantages: your attack gains the Piercing 2 quality (or adds +2 to any existing Piercing X quality), and you activate the Unforgiving X quality of any weapon you are using that has this quality, making it Vicious X and Intense.

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Characters having a good Craft skill and some Craft Talents.
Regarding the Exploit action, this is the Sabotage! Talent which grants besides other effects this one here:

When an Exploit Action is taken using the Craft skill, Sabotage!
grants bonus Momentum equal to your Craft Skill Focus.

If you have maxed-out Craft to 5 Expertise and 5 Focus, that would mean you get on an Exploit action using Craft 5 Bonus Momentum! Plus the usual effects of the Exploit action.
And investing 3 of those Bonus Momentum on +3d20 on your next attack, you not only gain the additional d20, but you add +3 Combat Dice of damage, due the Exploit with Piercing 2 quality and activated Unforgiving quality.

I have played such a crafting-oriented character quite often, and this character type can be as destructive as it can be constructive.

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Thank your for your long answer.

I realised my mistake after posting this comment. The Exploit action clearly states that a D0 test is a Free Action as do the rules for Difficulty Zero Tests on page 96-97 of the Core Rulebook, as long as it is not rolled like a normal test. D0 test can then be successfully accomplished as a Free Action or can generate Momentum if a test is made as a Standard Action.

In my current understanding of the rules, a successfully suprising character has 3 options :

  1. Use the Exploit D0 Free Action, activating the Unforgiving X Quality of its attacks, gaining an additionnal Piercing 2 Quality. No test, no risk of Complications.

  2. Use 2 Momentum possibly gained on the suprising test (generally a Stealth test) to use a Swift Action, which is then used as a Exploit D1 Standard Action (because Swift Action adds +D1 to the second action) where each Momentum gained can be used as +1D20 and +1[CD] for the next attack which is the Round 1 of the combat to follow. The test comes with the risk of Complications.

  3. On Round 1 of the combat, do an Exploit D0 Standard Action test and hopefully get 2 Momentum to use a Swift Action enablign the attacker to use its attack on the same round, thus activating the Unforgiving X quality of its weapon, adding Piercing 2 to it, and any bonus d20 and [CD] gained from extra Momentum beyond the first 2. The attack action will be an Attack D2 Standard Action test (because it is a Swift Action, adding +D1).

Am I correct ?

So you basically allow your PC to use the Craft skill to be used as an Exploit test in combat for sabotaging the NPC’s armors ?

Not only armor. Exploit action then shoot a heavy crossbow bolt at a rafter to make the roof come down on some group of Minions. And a lot of other things a “crafty” character can come up with.

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