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D&D 5E Cinematic Advantage

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Although it's been mentioned a few times, I haven't seen any threads on this, so here goes.

Back in January Sly Flourish published an article on replacing flanking with Cinematic Advantage...


In May, DungeonCraft released a video on it...


For me, that's just about the best house rule I've seen for 5E. It offers up a reward (with some risk) to the players and encourages them to get creative, interact with the environment, and move around the scene instead of being boring and generally standing in one place until someone dies.
 

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Morley_Dotes

Villager
When a friend of mine runs a game, in any edition or system, he gives advantage in roles (in whatever form that system takes) when a PC does something Errol Flynn-ish in style and execution (he was a big fan of the Errol Flynn antics in movies). There were some brilliant successes, and some pretty brilliant failures, as players tried to do something creative in his games.
 

cmad1977

Hero
I mentioned it in a different thread but….

I grant advantage to an action that the player can tie to one of their BiFTs, 1 time per session per Bift. It seems to encourage the players to take more “not on the character sheet” actions that are still in the characters “wheelhouse”.

So you get things like
“Well… I’m super close to my sister… I tap into that while I’m lifting this gate.” From characters who aren’t necessarily “the buff one”.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I mentioned it in a different thread but….

I grant advantage to an action that the player can tie to one of their BiFTs, 1 time per session per Bift. It seems to encourage the players to take more “not on the character sheet” actions that are still in the characters “wheelhouse”.

So you get things like
“Well… I’m super close to my sister… I tap into that while I’m lifting this gate.” From characters who aren’t necessarily “the buff one”.
I tend to do something similar with backgrounds. Any non-attack action that would reasonably tie in to your background gets advantage.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I remember posting something like this a few years back and people complained that it was too punishing by the numbers if the fail the check for the action and something bad happens. Still something I'll use though, gives a reason for people to play like action heroes.

I mentioned it in a different thread but….

I grant advantage to an action that the player can tie to one of their BiFTs, 1 time per session per Bift. It seems to encourage the players to take more “not on the character sheet” actions that are still in the characters “wheelhouse”.

So you get things like
“Well… I’m super close to my sister… I tap into that while I’m lifting this gate.” From characters who aren’t necessarily “the buff one”.
Bift?
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I remember posting something like this a few years back and people complained that it was too punishing by the numbers if the fail the check for the action and something bad happens. Still something I'll use though, gives a reason for people to play like action heroes.
I think it would really depend on the DC you set and how severe consequences might be.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
It is a kind of cool idea, but not a fan of what it is emulating. While there are certain "action" elements and tropes that come up in D&D, I don't think of D&D as a kind of action movie simulator and have never been a fan of when DMs use cinema language of slow-motion, zoom shot, cut-away, or panning to describe a scene. Then again, the "stand in one place til someone dies" thing has never really been an issue in my games. I do mostly play grid/minis, but occasionally use TotM for some scenes - and can see it more useful for the latter style.

For the record, in one game I am running we are playing with the flanking option from the DMG and in the other we are not.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
I think it would really depend on the DC you set and how severe consequences might be.
I also think it might also be a good idea to remove the consequences entirely. A lot of players are notoriously risk adverse. They'd likely rather not possibly incur a penalty even if they're passing up potentially gaining a benefit. All carrot, no stick. That seems to be the general trend of the game and player culture.
It is a kind of cool idea, but not a fan of what it is emulating. While there are certain "action" elements and tropes that come up in D&D, I don't think of D&D as a kind of action movie simulator and have never been a fan of when DMs use cinema language of slow-motion, zoom shot, cut-away, or panning to describe a scene.
"Cinematic" here is an easy short-hand reference word. D&D is an action-adventure game. Always has been. This house rule is meant to emulate those action-adventure tropes. Whether in film, on television, or in prose. Three Musketeers. Conan. Zorro. Elric. John Carter of Mars. Captain Alatriste. Any pulp novel. More than half of Appendix N.

But I agree with you about the camera-angle language some DMs use. I'd rather they didn't frame the game as a film. It breaks immersion.
Then again, the "stand in one place til someone dies" thing has never really been an issue in my games. I do mostly play grid/minis, but occasionally use TotM for some scenes - and can see it more useful for the latter style.
It's always been a problem in games I've played in. Not me, but other players. When I play martial characters I'm always moving around and trying to interact with the environment. 4E's page 42 was written to deal with players like me. Which is why I love cinematic advantage. Anything to get players to move and interact with the environment. Treat the world like a real place instead of a flat 2D battle map.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
It's always been a problem in games I've played in. Not me, but other players. When I play martial characters I'm always moving around and trying to interact with the environment. 4E's page 42 was written to deal with players like me. Which is why I love cinematic advantage. Anything to get players to move and interact with the environment. Treat the world like a real place instead of a flat 2D battle map.

I think between just the style of play developed with my regulars over the years and my modeling that kind of stuff with the opponents when I run the game, this approach eventually develops in my games even when it is not there from day one.
 

Puddles

Explorer
I like this rule. It's something I already try to do, put lots of fun interactive features in my encounters to encourage out of the box thinking, but seeing it formalised here with a coined term makes it easy to put at the forefront of your mind when designing encounters. Thanks for sharing!
 

slobster

Hero
I had a swashbuckler campaign where we did something like this, though way back in the 3.x era. It worked great!

I do think the greatest pitfall in doing something like this is that it tends to throw the spotlight on players who are already spotlight-hungry, and can make it harder for quieter or less outgoing people to break that shell. The DM has to be very careful not to 'punish' players who maybe don't have the knack for embellishing their actions, being more generous in granting advantage to them. Likewise, the DM needs to be able to subtly nudge the outgoing players off the stage if they are getting too involved in describing their next big, exciting, cinematic action if they are starting to dominate the table.

If I tried to implement this at my table, I'd also put a little thought into other ways the cinematic advantage could manifest in certain situations, to mix things up. Bonus damage instead of advantage on an attack roll? Advantage on the damage roll? Inflicting status effects on a success? Demoralizing opponents? Environmental hazards?
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Dungeoncraft said:
Here's a brand-new rule...

Sly Flourish said:
This is an old trick from Fate in which we write down aspects of the scenes characters invoke to gain a bonus on their action.
I've been using "cinematic advantage" for quite a while now...
D&D Basic Rules said:
The DM can also decide that circumstances influence a roll in one direction or the other and grant advantage or impose disadvantage as a result.
It looks like D&D has too, since at least 2018.

But why someone would want to leap off a balcony, swing on a chandelier, or jump on a monster's back (attempting to grapple it???) is well beyond me.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
But why someone would want to leap off a balcony, swing on a chandelier, or jump on a monster's back (attempting to grapple it???) is well beyond me.
People often imagine their fantasy very differently. What may seem ludicrous to you may seem perfectly fine in fantasy to someone else. There's a lot that will depend on how the player approached fantasy - low fantasy, high fantasy, swords and sorcery, anime, wire fu, etc.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I also think it might also be a good idea to remove the consequences entirely. A lot of players are notoriously risk adverse. They'd likely rather not possibly incur a penalty even if they're passing up potentially gaining a benefit. All carrot, no stick. That seems to be the general trend of the game and player culture.
I think there may be too much of a tendency to remove negative consequences for fear of alienating people. But negative consequences can be fun as well as long as they're not insanely punitive like a save or die for relatively minor stuff. In the service of providing cinematic advantage, I can see something like this working:
DC of stat checkResult
>=15Advantage free and clear
10-14Advantage but with complications
5-9No advantage, no penalties
<5Disadvantage

Advantage but with complications would be some form of Fail Forward situation. You achieve your desired result, but with a cost.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I think there may be too much of a tendency to remove negative consequences for fear of alienating people. But negative consequences can be fun as well as long as they're not insanely punitive like a save or die for relatively minor stuff.
Try introducing a fumble mechanic. Players usually freak the hell out. Do the same thing with crtis giving you a bonus (and the enemy a bonus when they crit) and no one bats an eye. The result is the same. About 5% of the time something extra bad happens to your character. Say it’s a fumble, players freak and whine. Say it’s a bad guy crit, and players are mysteriously fine with it.
In the service of providing cinematic advantage, I can see something like this working:
DC of stat checkResult
>=15Advantage free and clear
10-14Advantage but with complications
5-9No advantage, no penalties
<5Disadvantage

Advantage but with complications would be some form of Fail Forward situation. You achieve your desired result, but with a cost.
Sure that could absolutely work. D&D doesn’t do graded success that well, so something simpler like a pass/fail or pass/fail and fumble/crit.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I remember posting something like this a few years back and people complained that it was too punishing by the numbers if the fail the check for the action and something bad happens. Still something I'll use though, gives a reason for people to play like action heroes.


Bift?
Yeah, math wise I don’t think it needs any major consequence beyond “you don’t have advantage”.
 

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