Exceptional Bane Success Rule

Hi guys,

as stated by the rules for Exceptional Success of a normal attack roll:

Exceptional Success - trigger a bane […] if total is 10 or more over defense

Why is the reverse not also applicable? Bane-Attacks target the same defense as a normal attack with the same attribute would target, so exceptional success could also be applied here, for example:

“A character wants to invoke the Bane “Forced Move” with Might, so he simply pushes him like some bully at school.”
They not only succeed, but their role surpasses the target’s guard by 10. In that case, it feels kinda bad for the player, because they could have just as easily attacked normally, then applied the bane from the Exceptional Success. In the example above, you could flavor it by saying the character pushed with such force he managed to injure the enemy as well or knocked the wind out of them.
The resulting damage would be calculated as such: If the bane role surpasses by 10, a minimum of 3 damage is dealt. From there, the damage is calculated normally. 11 = 3, 12 = 3, 13 = 3, 14 = 4 …

The main reason that there wasn’t a Bane version of exceptional success, is that what you want from an exceptional success varies based on the Bane. For example, you really don’t want to be killing someone if you get an exceptional success while trying to Charm someone.

This is a good option for a lot of cases though. Other options I’ve seen:

  • Grant the bane “potent”
  • Allow the player a higher PL than they can normally access
  • The bane hits more targets than they aimed for
  • Minor banes (like low PL demoralized) get inflicted on surrounding targets
  • Make it narrative, describe how awesome the attack is and how the enemy reacts to it, how their allies are inspired. In my experience players really enjoy that one even if it doesn’t change anything mechanically.

You make a good point.

you really don’t want to be killing someone if you get an exceptional success while trying to Charm someone

To add another example: The damaging option also wouldn’t mesh well with the Incapacitated Bane, since the pain might keep them from falling into a vulnerable state, at least at PLs 5 and 7.

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Many generous GMs I’ve talked to already do this, and also try to apply this to boons, if possible. Sam already listed a good number of options, but the reason for why this wasn’t implemented in the Core Rules is because it’s impossible to standardise these options for banes and boons, unlike for damaging attacks. So these effects can only decided in the moment with the situation in mind, ideally in cooperation between the player and the GM.


I definitely agree with the point about cooperation. you don’t want to “give” your players something they don’t want

Yes, Exceptional success for things other than Damaging attacks is situational and something that can be determined on the spot as what makes sense for the narrative.

I usually have a higher threshold for Banes, and especially for Boons. Banes are easier to apply than damaging attacks. That may sound weird at first, but for a bane you get the full effect of the bane as long as you simple meet the defense. With Damaging attacks you have to get higher to have more effect with it. Plus you automatically get to apply a bane at the highest PL you can access (or in some cases when using weapons at 1 PL higher than you can access).

So my threshold for exceptional for Bane attacks is typically 15+ over, and in most cases apply Potent to it.

For boons, it highly depends on the actually boon, but also, not as likely to do it for them b/c it takes away from people who go for Boon Focus in a way. So that one is very very situational to whether I would do something for it, but usually I’ll all the boon to hit more allies, or have greater effect, and usually 15~20+ over the max PL CR they can achieve.

Do you think this would be a good use for Lethal Damage? Perhaps it could give Lethal Damage beyond the 10 over defense.

Like mentioned earlier it’s hard to make one rule for all the banes.

When it comes to leathal damage it’s not a big deal for the NPC unless they had a lot of heal. But it will usually be annoying for the players after the fight.

So in not the biggest fan in general of alternative rules that favours one side

Lethal damage verses NPC isn’t important unless you are doing a lot of healing of your NPCs. And if that’s the case, it’s better to let the PCs deal with it by targeting the NPC that is doing the healing, or leaving it to PCs that have invested in it.

Plus, if that’s the case, that means NPCs can do it to the PCs, which would be bad for the reasons Frank mentioned above.

Leaving lethal damage to if you have the feat I think is fine. I personally stopped using the optional rule of Lethal Damage if you explode on a d20 b/c, again, vs the PCs that is rough, especially since it is already going to be a large amount if a d20 explodes.

yea i never bothered with the lethal damage when you roll a 20 rule.

The point I am trying to make is with regard to an encounter I’m which NPC enemies, particular characters central to the overall storyline, do not continuously fall to slaughter. This will happen in games with dynamic and rich content, designed by DMs who can see players motivated by the perceived opening of opportunities. Lethal Damage will work well for me to move the game into different and varied outcomes. The projection of certain death can make for encounters with NPCs containing greater realism and a more memorable outcome.

You could decide to use it for Lethal Damage (10+ over defense), however at higher levels it is far more likely to be that more regular and it will be a bit of cascading effect unless you have someone with Extraordinary healing.

Just giving NPCs lethal strike if you want to go for that feel is easy too, and giving out Fatigue. Maybe allowing a big hit to occasionally give out a level of Fatigue can be good too.

All depends on the type of game you are playing and the overall feel for it of course.