4
\$\begingroup\$

It reads as following:

Exploit Weakness: After 1 round of combat, the Smart hero can designate one opponent and try to find ways to gain an advantage by using brains over brawn. The Smart hero uses a move action and makes an Intelligence check (DC 15) with a bonus equal to his or her Smart level. If the check succeeds, for the rest of the combat the Smart hero uses his or her Intelligence bonus instead of either Strength or Dexterity bonus on attack rolls as the hero finds ways to outthink his opponent and notices weaknesses in his opponent’s fighting style.

That raises a couple questions that aren't addressed here or anywhere else in the SRD ( or the book ), for that matter. Maybe I'm missing some general conventions or some "defaults", but this is my first campaign in Modern D20, so.

  1. If the check fails, does the hero get to retry and/or try to designate another opponent after that?
  2. Does "After 1 round of combat" specifically mean "after one round and one round only"?
\$\endgroup\$
1
\$\begingroup\$

Ask the GM

I went through several articles in the Bullet Points column archive, but found none mentioning the the smart hero's talent exploit weakness. Little has also been said by fans about the talent. This leaves how the talent works in the hands of the GM. Below, then, are two possible readings (therefore allowing the GM and the player to reach a compromise between the two) and a frame challenge.

A conservative reading

Anyway, at its most restrictive, the smart hero at the beginning of the second round of combat only either picks one opponent to be the subject of this talent (this is not an action) or doesn't use this talent during this combat encounter. If the smart hero opts for the former, the smart hero, only on his turn during the second round of combat, can take a move action to make an Intelligence ability check (DC 15). Failure means no benefit during this combat encounter. Success means for the combat encounter's remainder the smart hero uses his Intelligence modifier to determine his modifier on attack rolls against the subject instead of using his Strength modifier or Dexterity modifier for attack rolls against the subject.

(It's possible that the talent mixes fluff and mechanics for designating an opponent. That is, After 1 round of combat, the Smart hero can designate one opponent may be tied to the next sentence rather than to and try to find ways to gain an advantage by using brains over brawn. This would make it so that the smart hero need not pick the subject at the top of the round and could, instead, pick the opponent at the beginning of his turn. This is also something to work out with the GM.)

A liberal reading

At its most generous, the talent exploit weakness allows the smart hero at the beginning of the second round of combat and every round thereafter to designate an opponent. Then, at any time during that combat, the smart hero can take a move action to make an Intelligence ability check (DC 15) versus any designated opponent. Failure means the smart hero may later take another move action to repeat this process to try again versus that designated opponent. Success means for the combat encounter's remainder the smart hero uses his Intelligence modifier to determine his modifier on attack rolls against the subject instead of using his Strength modifier or Dexterity modifier for attack rolls against that designated opponent.

Further, under this generous reading, the talent's effect continues no matter how many opponents have been designated or have had their weaknesses exploited. That is, like Dale's answer explains, the smart hero gets a metaphorical cookie each round after the first.

This second reading requires the smart hero's player to track separately both the foes that have been designated and if those foes' weaknesses have been exploited. Because it's more complicated than only tracking whether the smart hero has exploited the weakness of a lone designated foe, this second reading is unlikely to have much traction with the GM, but, as many d20 Modern special abilities are at least disappointing if not outright disempowering, scrounging for any edge—no matter how small—might be worthwhile.

Challenging the frame

Official sources included, my research shows that few folks care enough about the talent exploit weakness to mention it. The most poignant fan assessment of the talent I found asks What d20 Modern character does not have Dexterity as his second highest ability score? That is, there are likely better talents to take than this one, which—no matter how the talent's read—allows a character, after the first (and most important) round of combat to sacrifice a move action to make a nontrivial ability score check and, if successful, gain against a specific lone foe a +1 to +3 bonus on attack rolls. In other words, to challenge the frame a bit, does the character already have the talent plan?

(Also, consider investigating Back to Basics, a conversion of sorts of d20 Modern's classes to Spycraft 2.0… for inspiration if nothing else. While I've a playtest credit on this supplement, I receive no other compensation for my shilling. I just want more folks playing Spycraft 2.0.)

| improve this answer | |
\$\endgroup\$
1
\$\begingroup\$

The description is outlining an ability and when you may use your ability. It's in a similar vein to a mother telling their child 'you may eat cookies, but not until after you've had dinner'. The child may eat one cookie, or ten cookies, or chocolate chip ones or oatmeal ones in any order of preference, but only if they've had dinner first.

A character may not try to exploit a weakness on the first round of combat with a particular foe, but once that round has elapsed, they may attempt to exploit weakness as many times as they wish, provided they can spend the move action to do so. They must designate an opponent to exploit the weakness of and the effect will apply to that opponent only, if the check succeeds. This doesn't mean, though, that they can not try to exploit a second opponent also. It means they may only exploit one opponent per move action and successful intelligence check.

In keeping with the cookie theme, if we rewrite the ability for cookie eating, we'd have something like this:

Eat cookie: After opening the cookie jar, the hero can designate one cookie and try to eat it. The hero uses a move action and makes an dexterity check (DC 15) with a bonus equal to his or her eat cookie level. If the check succeeds, for the rest of the eternity, the cookie is eaten.

Intuitively, you can eat as many cookies as you want, but not until the cookie jar is open. Each cookie can be eaten only once, and only one cookie at a time, though. If you fail to pick up the cookie once or more, then you can try to pick it up again until you eat it.

| improve this answer | |
\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.