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Conflict questions - architect game style

Still trying to imagine how Conflicts will play out when the players are more involved in an ‘Architect’ game style, i.e. the characters are not doing everything themselves, but are directing the agents of their house. So…

Say, my character is the Spymaster of the house. I am the handler for our many agents who are running around, infilitrating rival households, gathering information. A typical espionage conflict.
Which values should I use for tests and contests during the conflict? Just the asset’s own skills and drive (possibly a Spy-type supporting character), or is there any way to bring my major player character into the game? Are there any cases when me, as the spies’ handler may roll for my own stats?

Other example. I’m the house Warmaster. I am leading a number of infantry units of the house in battle against our enemies - through long-distance communication from the house command post. Can I use my own character’s stats for the tests and contests, or should I stat a typical member of the unit (a soldier supporting character) and use their stat? Does it matter whether I’m leading from the front instead (moving together with the given unit)?

At some points, the Core Rulebook seems to imply that the commander may roll, not the individual members of the unit. For example, under Overcoming an Obstacle (p. 183), it says: 'Battle, Communicate, and Discipline can all serve as ways to coordinate and motivate military forces
to maneuver through or clear out an obstacle. Move can be used to lead by example, guiding a
unit through the terrain with personal experience.’

Another question. If my major player character is also physically involved in a Warfare conflict (say, leading a unit in person), any ideas how I should handle possible injury (or similar complications) that the unit suffers? Any ideas to emulate, maybe, a lonely character fleeeing on a battlefield, being chased and shot after by regiments of infantrymen (interesting change of scale after a lost Warefare conflict).

Finally, if I use general conflict rules for Warfare - will each player (main character) involved in the conflict take one turn in each round? Each character would direct (e.g. move, order to attack) a unit once. Could possibly several players command the same unit, making the unit act multiple times in a round?
Or would each unit (asset) take one turn per round in Warfare conflict, irrespective of the number of major player characters involved?
The rules on the Action Order in conflicts (p. 165) is not very clear about this, it’s talking about one turn ‘per character’.

I’d love to see more explanation/examples of that, too.

Thinking about this some more, my guess is that it’s something like this:

In Architect Mode, the players are seeking to sabotage Harkonnen spice production on Arrakis (without personally going there to do the dirty work themselves). Their assets for this conflict might include a deep cover operative in the Harkonnen residency in Carthag; an expert engineer who helped design the carryalls currently in use on Arrakis; and a favor owed to their House by Count Fenring.

Their actions might be a Subtle Move to bribe a Spacing Guild representative to get one of their House’s ships aboard a Heighliner but left off the manifest, so their carryall designer can travel to Arrakis without being noticed (equivalent to a Subtle Move to get one’s knife inside the opponent’s guard zone in a duel); and calling in the favor from Count Fenring to have him demand an audience with Beast Rabban, thus giving him and his security staff the Distracted or Rattled trait (equivalent to using a feature of the terrain to distract a duel oppoent); and activating their deep cover operative already on Arrakis (equivalent to unsheathing your crysknife in preparation for a duel).

Is that about right?


Generally when you do Architect play the forces and agents under your control become Assets without any further stats than qualities and maybe a trait or 2.

So for the Warmaster example your battalions are your assets. Say two Asset Quality 0 Infantry battalions and one Asset Quality 2 House Guard regiment.
The individual troops or even the NPC commanders are fully subsumed into those qualities. They only exist as extensions of your Warmasters stats.

If those units move or come into conflict with the enemy then it is your warmaster who rolls using his stats. In your case with your warmaster in his bunker he rolls movement at normal 2 difficulty but can retain the initiative at the cost of only 1 momentum. (pg 182) If he was leading the House Guard then the movement difficulty is 1, but retaining the initiative is the normal 2 momentum.

If you choose to lead from the front then your character is at risk, but it seems to be a more descriptive threat. If you lose your character might be captured or cut off from his allies and have to go on the run.
I think you hit the nail on the head with your description of the character being chased and shot out by the enemy. At this point you have switched out of Architect play and moved down to Agent play. Your assets are now your knives and lasgun instead of infantry and ornithopters.

Play moves from PC to GM to next PC, the same as all the other conflicts.
It isn’t clear if they could then move the same asset as the previous character. I would give a tentative Yes, personally, as the assets aren’t directly tied to the character. That might need clarification or a house rule.

This is how I have interpreted the rules at least.


Thank you, @starkllr . I love the way you framed your conflict, I think this would work.

@CountThalim Thank you so much! Your thoughts help me a lot.

Ahh, I like the approach.
Would you use the same model for Espionage conflicts as well? So, the house Spymaster, or whomever is controlling/planning the operation would roll, not the specific spy, infilitrator or agent. Would you do the same, even if there is no direct communication between the Spymaster and the operative in the field? Just a briefing in advance, then the spy is on its own, trying to keep his or her cover.

There are some tricky details here.

  • Normally, in a conflict, one side takes as many turns in a round as the number of their characters. If one side has more characters, then the other side keep taking turns until all characters took an action.
  • I just realized that the GM will need some NPCs (the commanders) statted out anyway. Their drives and skills will be important for the contests during the battle (such as attacks between enemy units), and for the extended task tracks of their units.
  • So, if I understand you correctly, in Warfare each side would take as many turns in a round as many commanding characters (major player characters and commander NPCs) are involved. Whichever side has more commanders would take more moves/actions. (The same way that a side with more characters in a skirmish would take more turns).
  • Alternative could be one turn per unit (i.e. per asset), and not per commanding character. But that would raise a lot of problems (which players should act more than once if there are more units than players?) I will stay with your ruling.
  • I think I wouldn’t prefer allowing a single asset to be used by several players (commanders) in a single round. That would mean that a single unit can rush forward and maybe attack four times in a row, in a single round, just because there are multiple commanders shouting at them through radio… it makes more sense to allow one unit to be used only once in a single turn.
  • My remaining issue is: what happens if there are fewer units remaining on one side than players / commander NPCs. I guess that just means that the extra commanders do not have too much to do. They can maybe assist the other commanders, giving extra dice to their rolls.
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I think there is style difference here.
You can treat your spies and agents as Assets and have locations on a map be the zones (I.e Cathag, Arakeen, etc). In which case I would run this as Architect play and treat it the same as how I would do warfare.
Or your spies are characters in their own right. At which point this isn’t Architect play but Troupe play (from my Ars Magika days). This is where the player has multiple characters they play at different times. So you have a player who has the Spymaster character. They set things in motion for the operation but then everyone picks up a secondary character (Spy, Infiltrator, contact, etc) and they play those characters for the operation. Once the operation is over the player reverts back to their main character (Spymaster, Warmaster, Bene Gessesrit, etc).
Both are valid styles and can lend themselves to different groups or game styles.

Yes, that is how I understand it. In the same way as your characters are using Battalions as assets the opposing Warmasters will also be using theirs as assets.

I see where you are coming from and I sort of agree. But on the other hand having multiple commanders could allow the Asset to respond to changes more swiftly as the commanders can focus on specific sections.
I’ll be honest in that I am undecided on this. There are arguments to be made on both sides and it may be that one ruling doesn’t fit all situations. My next point has some more thoughts on this.

The book does actually have some ideas here on pg 183. They suggest you can gather information or create traits by intercepting enemy communications and performing scouting. A BG might also be a nightmare for psychological warfare…
This is where using the same asset twice comes in as I can easily see a Battallion launching an attack while still having scouts probing the flanks.
Or as you say secondary commanders could Assist (pg 150) and provide an extra d20 towards the roll.


On the topic of multiple players “blitzing” an asset by each moving/using it on their turn, my understanding was that assets are “owned” by someone. So if the Bashar is in charge of the company of house troops, then only the Bashar gets to move them, not the Burseg.

I guess this begs the question of how one might pass assets between players, and I guess (if this is feasible) here the GM would have to make sure this was done in such a way that the asset can’t be used, passed to another person, used again, and so forth. Probably an attitude like: assets can be exchanged at the end of the round; or, passing an asset requires a player’s action to do so (although the possibility of taking multiple actions by retaining the initiative would probably also require the caveat that the asset being handed over can’t have been used in the round).

To a certain degree the system is actually designed to allow that.
The rules do allow you to move an opponents asset at certain times.
If you don’t mob an asset to some degree you can end up with a game just moving assets back and forward to the same places as it is hard to gain an advantage.
So focusing on one, or trying to shift a lot of assets around is all part of the strategy.
It’s like chess, do you keep pushing with a queen or mob the board with pawns.

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Well as one of the objectives with Cheops is to place your queen at the apex…

Thanks for the Dev insight. Given how all the combat types are essentially the same core system I assume that this would also apply in any architect play scenario.
For example spies & assassins in Espionage or trade agreements & solari in a Negotiation.

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Yup, system is always the same for architects or agents, it’s the asset types and setting that changes.

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