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D20 Rules by Justin Alexander
This material is covered by the Open Gaming License.
A character can choose to push the limits of their normal abilities in exchange for the character suffering some fatigue from the effort. Immediately after using extra effort, a character becomes fatigued (-2 Strength, -2 Dexterity, cannot run), even if they are normally immune to fatigue. If a character uses extra effort while fatigued they become exhausted (-6 Strength, -6 Dexterity, one-half speed). If a character uses extra effort while exhausted they become unconscious.
A character using extra effort can gain one of the following benefits for a single round:
Activate Class Ability: Gain an additional use of a class ability that has a limited number of uses per day.
Desperate Parry: As an immediate action, gain the the benefits of fighting defensively (or using the Combat Expertise feat) against one attack. If the character was already fighting defensively (or using the Combat Expertise feat), double the bonus gained.
Desperate Speed: Move at double speed for one round or take an additional 5 foot step.
Emulate Feat: Benefit from a feat they don't have for 1 round. The character must meet the prerequisites of the feat.
Emulate Metamagic: The character can use a metamagic feat they don't have or don't have prepared. This increases the casting time of the spell to at least a full round unless using the Quicken Spell feat. A caster with prepared spells must use up a prepared spell of the appropriate level, but can keep the original spell being modified. A spontaneous caster can use extra effort to use a metamagic feat they do know without increasing the casting time of the spell.
Extra Attack: When performing the full attack action, make 1 extra attack at their highest base attack bonus.
Focused Skill Check: Take 10 on a skill check even when they normally couldn't.
Opportunist: Take an extra attack of opportunity.
Prodigious Strength: Double their carrying capacity for one round or gain a +2 bonus to a single Strength check (or Strength-based skill).
Spell Boost: A caster can use extra effort to gain a +2 bonus to their effective caster level for a single spell. (Must declare before casting the spell.)
Turn the Blow: Automatically negate an opponent's critical hit (turning it into a normal hit).
Vicious Blow: Automatically confirm a critical without making an additional attack roll. (Must be declared before checking the crit.)
A character performing an exhausting effort suffers from exhaustion. If a character is fatigued when performing an exhausting effort, they become unsconsious. Exhausted characters cannot attempt an exhausting effort.
Intense Skill Check: The character can Take 20 on a physical skill check without expending any additional time on the check and even in circumstances where they normally couldn't.
Recall Spell: Spellcasters who prepare their spells can use exhausting effort to recall any spell previously cast on the same day. The spell can be cast again with no effect on other prepared spells. Spontaneous spellcasters can use extra effort to cast a spell without using one of their daily spell slots.
Second Effort: The character can reroll any one die roll and use whichever result is better.
The Extra Effort mechanics serve a function similar to Action Points. One key difference is that while Action Points are a dissociated mechanic, the Extra Effort mechanics are associated: They specifically model that moment when a character digs deep and finds the inner reserves necessary to do what must be done.
The specific list of benefits that a character can gain from Extra Effort should be considered a sampler. Players should be encouraged to propose their own, situation-specific benefits from Extra Effort.
In judging whether or not a particular benefit is appropriate, I propose a simple spot-check: If it's appropriate for a 2nd-level spell, then it's appropriate for extra effort. If it's appropriate for a 4th-level spell, then it's appropriate for an exhausting effort.
The rationale for this is simple: Fatigue can be removed with lesser restoration (a 2nd-level spell) and exhaustion can be removed with restoration (a 4th-level spell). Therefore, in a worst case scenario, the system can't be abused any farther than a character using extra effort and then immediately wiping it out with a 2nd-level spell or using exhausting effort and then immediately wiping it out with a 4th-level spell.
In playtesting, for example, exhaustive efforts were created when the Recall Spell ability proved too powerful: Characters were getting the benefit of a mnemonic enhancer spell for the use of a lesser restoration spell. Mnemonic enhancer, however, is a 4th-level spell -- so if characters want to use a 4th-level restoration spell to more-or-less mimic the effect of another 4th-level spell, I've got no problem with that.
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