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A (Hopefully Mostly Correct) Partial Duel Example

I know what you mean. I’d have liked to see a little bit more definition with the system. Perhaps we’ll get more clarity as further releases drop. That said, the questions we’re asking (like do you apply a defensive asset’s affect when you’re moving into or out of a zone and does it get its full quality or just +1 per) don’t really detract from the system as long as you’re consistent with the ruling and that the PCs and NPCs both get the benefit/penalty from the decision. It shouldn’t change the balance of play. It’s almost algebraic in that way–if you reward/penalize both sides equally.

Unless the devs come in and change my mind, I have a pretty clear picture of how I’ll run the system at my table. I’m a huge Dune fanatic so, by the horns of the Great Mother, I’ll make the system work.


@ColinChapmanNZ Most of the book is fairly lucid, but the conflict section is a bit opaque. In theory it should be quite accessible, since it’s supposed to be one unified system, and then the different cases (duel, skirmish, warfare, etc) should provide loads of examples. But it’s not very well worded/explained. What makes it really hard to follow is that all the examples are fluff, with no examples of rolls, modifiers etc, that could have disambiguated the rules.

I’ve got no problem with making a call as a GM when dealing with an unusual/interesting situation, but it seems with the conflict rules as they stand, you have to make quite a few calls about how the rules work in “normal” circumstances. Put another way, they feel a bit incomplete.

Before I sound too grumpy, I do think it’s a really good idea to have all the conflicts using a unified approach. It’s a really elegant idea, and could speed up play a lot.

@Highground I think on the whole I’m in agreement with you about using a penalty when you move into a location rather than from, in a duel. I like that it’s the same as how things work in espionage. I’d avoid using such a penalty in a skirmish or warfare (for the reason previously mentioned: it might be impossible for combatants to close with each other once there were a few assets in a zone. In a duel this isn’t going to be a problem, since each side will only have 2-3 assets total). I also wouldn’t bother in intrigue, because it’s not really about moving.

In terms of quality, don’t forget that you get bonus momentum from high quality assets if they don’t provide any other situational bonus. So your quality 2 knife is going to get you lots of bonus momentum when you (successfully) make bold/subtle moves.

My point about the soldiers fighting was poorly explained. Let me give an example from a duel. Say we are facing each other, each with two knives in our two defensive zones. I try to move my right knife into your left zone, and on to your personal zone. Suppose I’m not very good with my knife skills/rolls.

Penalties based on where I’m going to I fail my roll and can’t get my knife out of my defensive zone. This is annoying, but that’s about it. In fact, it may be handy, because at least it’s hindering you moving forward.

Penalties based on where I’m coming from I move into your zone easily enough. However, I then fail to move on. This makes it hard to launch my attack, but, to add insult to (lack of) injury, leaves my knife sitting in the same zone as yours, where you can have a go at disarming me.

I still think the “to” penalty is the way to go, but I’m just presenting this as a “feature” of the “from” penalty.

I’m a bit concerned by @Modiphius-Nathan’s suggestion that when you fail a move roll, you still get to move (see my previous quote). Reading the rulebook, it now doesn’t seem clear that a failed move roll rules out your “regular” move (although it does preclude using momentum to move farther). By Nathan’s interpretation, blocking with a knife will make it harder to get the bonuses from bold/subtle moves, but won’t do much to slow the inexorable movement of a knife towards the opponent’s target zone.


This is an important point and one that hits on presentation rather than design.

I feel like I see this with exception-based design, where you run into a cascade problem, emergent complexity, or whatever you want to call it, i.e. simple resolution system but then you begin to pile on specific (and, hopefully, predictable) nuances. Works fine, until it doesn’t.

The presentation here works for me (that’s not to say that it’ll work well for others) as it tends to run from general (Conflict Overview) to specific (Conflict Types) and tends to lay out bolt-ons in a formatted way and avoids some of the heavy complexity of, say, an Infinity (granted, I think it is intended there, since the war-game is also complex).

What I would love to see is for designers/editors format their rules more directly - an outline, bullet-points, formulas, flow charts, those would all work - in order to highlight rules/exceptions that may be embedded in text. Sure, you need the additional verbiage for context and/or clarity, but a summary would absolutely help just about every ruleset I’ve ever encountered.

The Appendix here is awesome in that regard. The only suggestion I could make would be to have additional breakdowns of the Conflict Types similar to Attack Sequence in the Appendix.

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Yeah I like the sound of that too. Also, like I said earlier

Both approaches have merit. I’m just interested in finding the better of the two approaches and sticking with it. Because other types of conflicts use the penalties moving into approach, I’m inclined to follow suit based on that alone–just to keep the system consistent.

I totally agree. Since the rules give an example where that doesn’t happen I think this was probably an oversight in that moment. If you think about it, it’s just a simple test to attempt an action (move from one zone to another). At its most general application, when you fail a test, you don’t get to do the thing you were trying to do. If that gets thrown out the window, we don’t really have a system at all.

Do you mean just that they’ll be generating more successes?

I think if we can plug the holes of uncertainty with the core conflict system it will be easy to rule the variations like dueling.

Still a lot of uncertainty with moving (asset):
-what is difficulty 2?
-Are there subtle and bold moves only?
-Do you lose chance to act again only for failing subtle/bold? -What about for the sometimes-ruled standard move?
-What becomes a contest?
-Is moving ever a contest? If not why the difficulty?
-If you move twice, what zone do you test against?
-moving in vs moving out with regards to defensive assets in same zone, etc.

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p. 166 “When you move, you may choose to try and gain an additional benefit, but there is a risk to this. You may attempt to move in a subtle way, trying to avoid attention, or you may move in a bold manner that provokes a response. In either case, this requires a skill test, with a Difficulty of 2. If you pass the skill test, you gain an additional benefit
My take is that subtle and bold moves are base Difficulty 2.

Not as far as I understand it. I think that was resolved in one of your prior posts. From that discussion:

So I guess there is a simple move option also that doesn’t require a test ([and this is one of the issues we’ve been debating] unless there is a defensive asset involved to impede you, then it’s a Difficulty 0 test and, depending on how you navigate the various interpretations, the difficulty increases by +1 per defensive asset in the zone or by the amount of the quality of the asset(s).

Well the first thing to address is whether or not you get to move on a failed attempt. I don’t think you do. On p. 175 there is an example “On their turn, one of the thugs from another zone attempts to move into Kara’s, but he fails, so Kara holds him at bay.” So it seems like you can’t move your asset on a failed Move test. It doesn’t state what kind of Move was attempted in the example so I assume it applies for all 3 types.
As for whether you can take further action on p. 166 it says “In either case, if you fail, you may not spend Momentum on additional movement, and one enemy may move a single asset one zone, as they react to your failed ploy. Further, if you fail, you may not Keep the Initiative.” I read this as your turn is now over. Even though the basic move isn’t mentioned here, I assume it’s the same. If you had to make a move test (because there was a defensive asset in the zone or something) and you didn’t pass, you don’t move and your turn is over.

I haven’t seen a situation where attempting to Move was ever a contest. In a conflict, contests are generally attacking an opponent or targeting an asset directly wielded by an opponent. On p. 168 it says “Typically speaking, targeting an asset is a skill test with a Difficulty of 2. If the asset is being wielded directly by a character—as in, it is an object in their hands—then it is a contest instead.” I would also extend this to things directly under a character’s control. Say there was an aerial battle and you tried to attack an ornithopter asset being flown by an opponent. That would be a contest.

I don’t think so. “Why the difficult?” The answer to this depends partly on the answer to the last question you asked. I favor the defensive assets protecting against moving into a zone. In that case, they represent things like barricades in a skirmish or tripwires. In a duel they represent assets protecting zones to inhibit an opponent moving their assets toward your Target zone.

I’m drawing this from your post here. From that post:

I see you pointed out:

I… guess? I’d rule it like that on the surface. I’m interested in finding a lightweight way to keep the action moving. The rules simple say if you spend 2 momentum, you get to move. Apparently that’s it. Then again the rules don’t really define the role of defensive assets during the Move action… I don’t think there’s a super clear answer to this.

I think we’re still debating that one. I’m still hoping one of the devs will weigh in on some of these questions.

Thanks, I know some of that’s stuff has been answered on posts before. I was just trying to consolidate what I have seen some still unsure on. As I’ve seen some of these answered both ways. I agree with your answers, and am really ok with the system, just want to run as intended as much as possible

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I totally agree that the problem is the examples are basically worthless - they are pure fluff. Nadia dodges and weaves and moves her blade to her other hand, and then succeeds in passing the shield for a slow-blade kill
How is any of that useful to teach people how to play?
I think there’s a good basis here, but I think it’s so poorly explained that I have my doubts even Modiphius actually even know how to run it correctly, or what correct way would even mean, especially given the many interpretations of things above.
I’m surprised Modiphius don’t just lay out a few blog posts and quickly give detailed examples with rolls, as surely that wouldn’t be that hard given they wrote the rules?

The book is mostly great, I love the art presentation and design, and I like 2D20, but I’m always puzzled why basically all 2D20 rulebooks fail near-completely at explanations of more complex things.


I mean those are just my takes. I’m still trying to sort it all out too. I haven’t actually put this on a table yet.

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I’m planning on running it soon, after completing a trek adventure under way.

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I’d be interested in your take on the game after having run a 2D20 system before.

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Re: Movement and Defensive Assets, the answer for me is on pg. 190, Structure of an Asset:

Functionally, an asset works as a trait (see p.143-144
& p.164) with the asset’s name . . . .

These assets are used during a conflict (as described in Chapter 6: Conflict) to overcome opponents and obstacles just like traits, usually in the following ways:

To make a task harder for an opponent (such as using a blade or shield to parry an attack).

Further to this point, as @Modiphius-Nathan has pointed out, there is discretion here - do you or your opponent want to parry an attack, do you want to defend a particular zone or lure your enemy into an ambush, do you let known enemy spies into your HQ in order to feed them disinformation, etc.

The narrative would seem to dictate whether you, as a player or referee, want to make it hard to enter or leave a zone. I’m not sure there is a hard and fast rule except for what Trait you may want to give a zone under the circumstances.

I also think the narrative should be the reason you chose your tests. It makes sense that a move would be more difficult if you’re going to a zone with a barrier, and more difficult if you’re going from a swamp, for example.
A lot of things in the core book are subjects to the narrative overrule. Can you make a knife appear as a trait in fight despite you not having it in your inventory, just because you have momentum ? And you did have momentum just because your friend was specially intimidating with the guard just before.
The whole book is oriented to make the party live fun stories, while not diving deep in the core book while playing. You don’t have to remember which stat you have to test to fight depending on your class and weapon, and how many dices you can roll for your damages. You just have one test, and it’s up to the GM to make it make sense.

@Highground will do. We’re in the last few sessions of the Star Trek Adventures beginner box adventure. I’ll put in an impressions when I get it done. Also going to get in some Achtung Cthulhu at some point.
I actually love 2D20 - it’s super flexible, I think it allows a great combination of narrative focus, cinematic flair, and enough crunch that isn’t bogged down in minutia. It works super well for Trek, even though I think some bits are very hard to remember for the players at times as they seem arbitrary until you play it a few times or have it explained well - stress and wounds in STA for example, or star ship combat. I think better, clear, examples would go a long way to helping 2D20.


Dune is my first 2D20 system. Is STA more traditional–what I mean is does it have things like a health/HP stat and damage? Do weapons and equipment have various stats like damage output, armor piercing, stun damage, etc?

Just curious.

STA is closer to the traditional structure than Dune, though the core concepts have been around for decades.
You have stress as HP and the assumption is that all weapons are on stun by default (It is a Star Trek game after all :smiley: )
Weapons have damage ratings and various modifiers that can make them more dangerous, able to ignore armour, concealable, etc…
Its skills are condensed down into departments (Conn, Medical, Security etc) in a similar manner to how Dune has done it, but the Attributes are more like people expect (Fitness, Insight, etc)

If you want to go even more to what people think of as a traditional system using 2d20 then Conan with its Attributes & Skills, wounds, hit locations etc is probably closest.

Because they all use the same base system then you can ‘transplant’ elements between them with a bit of work.

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Interesting. I might have to pick up the Conan pdf from drivethrurpg. I’d be interested in seeing less abstract version of the system to see how it handles things.

I don’t think I’ll try to change anything in Dune. Not until I’ve had it on the table for a while first.

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Achtung! Cthulhu and Fallout are the most recent “more traditional” examples of the 2d20 System, and Achtung! Cthulhu has a free quickstart available in our store here or on DriveThruRPG if you want to use that to compare and contrast. Conan is an older example of the system, and has some differences that are due to being older and our having less experience developing the system.


So nice to see that even the game authors still can’t adequately and succinctly describe how combat is supposed to work.

And I was called a “troll” for saying the rules are so abstract as to be near useless…

Honestly, if I could I would return the product to Amazon as “not fit for purpose”.

This game definitely needs a definitive, official example of a duel. In fact, given all the confusion and contradiction, I’d say it should be a priority for the next blog post; this thread (and the one before it in the thread on RPG net HERE) have been going for weeks and there’s still nothing solid.

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