Complications and traits

Last night I GMed my first session of Dune to a group of friends that really liked rolling nat 20s in their dice, i tried my best to use those mechanics, but they still are a bit nebulous for both me and the players.

I tried rereading those rules, but I think I’m not still able to explain them well enough…

Are they college football fans (assuming Americans here)? If so, tell them that d20 is like a Top 25 ranking, lower is better!

Kidding aside, complications can be hard initially to come up with on the fly. Just experiment with applying some kind of penalty, something that makes narrative sense or, if you can’t think of anything, simply bank the Threat.

It can be disorienting coming from a pass-fail system to a more narrative “you succeed but something went wrong.” Think of it as a hook to hang something cool or cinematic on the PCs. Crib some scenes from your favorite action movie or spy techno thriller.

But, most importantly, don’t sweat it. The beats will come as you and the table get more used to the system.

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My Brazilian brain stop working with the American football exemple…

I tried making things that made sense in the scene. Like, when one of the players tried piloting a 'thopter he had enough successes but had a complication as well, and I said that while he was able to pilot it, he had hit its wing against a wall when he took off. The second time I asked him for a roll, yet again he had a complication while piloting, this time trying to land, and I said "when you were about to land, the 'thopter died and it fell from a few meters, and now everyone inside is hurt.

A bit after that, one player that’s using a Suk Doctor char, tried to heal them, but he also had a complication, and I said the other player had a mild allergic reaction to something he used…

(I think my players rolled at least 6 20’s during the session…)

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This makes me chuckle - I have found (mostly running STA) that the hardest thing most players have to wrap their brains around is that rolling lower is better. In my Dune session, I had one player brighten up, because he could use the d20s that always rolled 1s for him. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I am a bit new as well.

I think you were doing fine on the Complications.

For the pilot he tapped a wall, all other flight checks would be 1 more difficult.
If while flying he rolled another Complication, then I would add you hear something rattling lose.
All flight checks are 2 more difficult and Complication range is now increased. 19 and 20 if no other issues.

On the landing Complication, everyone takes a Stress point as the landing was very rough mental and physically.

As you go to land the machine starts grinding gears and you hear metal shrieking.
Can not fly again until Repaired.

To help myself I have been when reading the Scene using a sticky note to list a few Complications and where I might spend Threat.

For AC I have notes like in this combat if I have 12 or more Threat, give this Trooper a heavy weapon, or add extra Leader NPC.

If the PCs have a Complication picking this lock, they open it but break or bend a pick. Complication range increased by one all other lock picking until they get a new set.

If they were searching the room and did not want folks to know they were there. Maybe you notice as the lock opens you left some scratches on it.
Who ever that office belongs to will get a chance to notice.

Story telling in 2d20 is a joy, but it takes a bit of practice.

Using what authors talk about with the characters in thier stories, if every thing goes right then why bother to tell that story.
The Story is in how the characters overcome the large and small Complications.

Again looks like you were doing great.


I agree with @Larac.

Sounds like good complications, @AlChemist95. For me, the main thing is keep the narrative flowing and sounds like you’re keeping the penalties in-line with the scenes.

Also, remember that Traits can be mental/emotional states, eg. Irritated, Lack of Confidence, Confusion, whatever makes sense in the moment.