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Somewhat similar to: Gloomhaven - are monster abilities in effect prior to their turn, but this is happening during the monster's turn.

In Gloomhaven, the cultist has an ability card that includes an on death effect. It looks something like this:

Move -1

Attack -1

On Death: Attack +2, target all hexes adjacent to the cultist.

If the cultist dies during it's move or initial attack action, (due to a trap, retaliate, or some other effect) does the on death effect get triggered?

This occurred in a game last night, and we were unsure how to proceed. We ended up ruling that the attack did not happen, as we hadn't reached that line on the ability card yet, so the on death effect wasn't yet active.

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It's unusual, but you're correct. The rules on page 10 state

A monster will perform each of these abilities in the order listed (if possible) and then end its turn.

So if a Cultist has a wound and 1 HP, it will die before taking any of the actions, and thus setting up for 'on death' doesn't happen.

This is similar to how a figure with retaliate doesn't retaliate if it's killed or exhausted by an attack.

Also, remember that abilities such as disarm and stun also prevent the 'on death' ability from taking place if those status effects were in place when the cultist activated.

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    Re "remember that abilities such as disarm [...] also prevent the 'on death' ability from taking place if those status effects were in place when the cultist activated.", No, the attack is only prevented by Disarm if the figure has disarm when instructed to attack. It doesn't matter if it had Disarm or not on its turn. (You are right about Stun, though, as stun prevents the (triggered) ability from being setup.) – ikegami Aug 10 '19 at 1:06
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    Re "This is similar to how a figure with retaliate doesn't retaliate if it's killed or exhausted by an attack.", Not at all. That has nothing to do with the order of abilities on the card. That's because of an entirely different rule. ("If the retaliating figure is killed or exhausted by the attack, then the retaliate does not activate.") – ikegami Aug 10 '19 at 1:19

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