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On Page 126 of the World of Darkness Core rulebook, it defines extended actions, making no reference to exceptional successes.

On page 125 it defines exceptional successes for instant actions.

Throughout many nWoD books there are abilities that are extended actions and have the exceptional success rule.

For years we have been playing and have adopted several different house rulings on it:

  • Total Successes>5 (ie automatic on many rolls)
  • If Final Roll brings over required target number by 5 then it is exceptional (this means best chance of exceptional, on extended action requiring 30 successes is to first roll 29, then roll 6 more)
  • 5 successes on first roll
  • 5 successes on last roll
  • 5 successes on any roll

But surely it is actually officially defined somewhere. It is a fundamental system mechanic

I known in nWoD-2e it is really clear, but I am only interested in nWoD-1e answers.

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On extended actions, you usually get results on the 5th, 10th, 15th etc. accumulated success'. so by definition the amount of success' rolled on extended action rolls, have a direct impact on the result, for instant actions a single success is mostly enough to achieve desired result. With that said, if the ST wrote down what would happen on 5, 10 and 15th success and you achieve 19, you'll just get the results of 5,10 and 15, but if you achieve 20, you will get a more precise result than you or ST anticipated. hence an exceptional success. 15 success might be the breaking point where the initiators assume the action can't be perfected more and stop the extended action. in other words they achieve what they hoped for and more effort would seem meaningless.

for example a cultist leader trying to convert people into his cult might initiate an extended roll on recruitment (let's say manipulation + persuasion, dice pool: 6) he rolls each day and once he recruits 2 people he intends to count this a success and stop. the ST decides that each people he wishes to recruit, needs 5 success. so for 2 people he'd need 10 successes. initiator rolls and after 4th roll he achieves 9 success. next day he rolls again and this time he gets 6 success. this is an exceptional success. so not only achieves the cult leader his goal of recruiting 2 people into his cult, he might also found the perfect candidates, who would devote themselves to the cult completely. which wasn't the initial goal but enhances the result in favor of the initiator.

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Short answer: If 5 [more] successes [than are required] are rolled, it is an exceptional success.

I knew this answer from White-Wolf forum discussions from years ago. I was only able to find it in the NWoD Core PDF by using the EDIT:FIND feature, and only because I already knew the answer. On p. 131, in paragraphs 4 and 5 under the Exceptional Successes heading, you'll find the answer is stated, if indirectly:

For an extended action that occurs over a period of time, any single exceptional success catapults your character toward a quick completion of his task. You gain five or more successes toward the total that you need. Your character has a major stroke of luck or moment of inspiration that advances his project considerably.

If, by virtue of some extremely good luck, you accumulate five or more successes than the number required to complete an extended action, the Storyteller may bestow some extra effect or favorable result. Say that you need 10 successes for your character to research a shady councilman’s background. You currently have nine successes and make another roll. Incredibly, you get six more successes, for a total of 15. Not only has your character discovered a gold mine of information and wrapped up the investigation, but you have gained five more successes than you needed. The Storyteller decides that your character stumbles upon ledgers that implicate the councilman in blackmail. Normally, the Storyteller might not have allowed your character to have uncovered that much information, but your exceptional number of successes beyond those needed confer the bonus.

Taken with the understanding that once you have succeeded, you may make no further roles, this can only occur on your final roll.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So it is extra hard to get a exceptional success on a extended action, since it requires at least 6 successes on your final roll. (rather than 5). I guess in some actions you can keep trying after you have succeed maybe? Eg to carve a garden gnome, it is done after 10 successes, but you can keep working on it to add embalishments. \$\endgroup\$ – Lyndon White Sep 21 '14 at 2:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree with the interpretation in your first paragraph. If I'm attempting a 10 success action, am currently on 5 successes and roll 5 successes on my attempt, that's not an exceptional success, even though my last roll had 5+ successes. \$\endgroup\$ – Philip Kendall Sep 21 '14 at 11:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, I think you are correct, Philip. It seems you actually need 6+ successes on the final roll. It's been I while since I've played. I'll have to go look up why that is. \$\endgroup\$ – Ich Sep 22 '14 at 8:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a necessary but not sufficient condition, at least as I understand the rules. Again with my 10 success action, if you're on 4 successes and get 6 successes on your next roll, it's still not an exceptional success. You need (n+5) successes on the final roll, where n is the number of successes you need to to finish the action at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Philip Kendall Sep 22 '14 at 12:25

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