In my game last night, a question came up about adding momentum to rolls and then it occurred to me as to whether or not you could use Momentum or Heat to add to the Momentum tallies in a Face-to-Face test. So that got me looking into how Face-to-Face tests (hereby referred to as F2F) work in Infinity and… well I had questions.
Before I get started, note: I mean the F2F mechanic in Infinity, not the version from later games like Struggles in Conan which have WAY more detail.
So, aside from various talents that allow extra momentum to be earned or extra dice to be rolled in a F2F test, there is only one place that describes how a F2F works.
Page 31, Core Rules. Face-to-Face tests.
When two characters are in direct opposition to each other, each character involved in the task performs a skill test. The character who achieves the greatest quantity of Momentum succeeds, achieving their goal. In the case of a tie, the character with the highest Expertise in their skill wins.
If there are no other factors involved, the difficulty of a face-to-face test is usually Simple (D0). For example, if two characters are running a race the winner will simply be whichever character has the better skill test.
Face-to-face tests with higher difficulties represent situations in which it is possible for everyone participating in the task to fail. For example, if two characters are both trying to be the first person to solve a Challenging (D2) puzzle, it is possible that neither of them will be able to solve the puzzle.
If either side has some circumstance which would make the test more challenging for them than for their opponent, simply adjust the difficulty of their check. (Remember that success is determined by the total Momentum generated; not the total number of successes rolled.)
Ok, so, ignoring gear. talents etc that can add bonus momentum here is the question…
How much momentum is generated by the success of a Face-To-Face test, knowing that unlike later versions of this mechanic there is no mention to the loser’s result cancelling out any of the momentum generated by the winner. And similarly, there is no mention that said Momentum used in the comparison isn’t just used up entirely regardless of the difference.
As an extension to this, when is the timing of the “Success” of a face-to-face test? Is it when the individual rolls are made verses whatever their initial difficulty is? or is it after the momentum values have been compared.
I ask, because many talents and gear specifically require that a “Success” needs to be registered before they kick in. For example, anything with Expert X.
Here’s a concrete example. NPC-1 makes a Stealth check with TO and as a reaction is opposed by NPC-2 using Observation and a Multispectral Visor 2, both tests are made against Difficulty 0. TO says you gain 2 momentum on Stealth Tests pass/fail so NPC-1 tests and gets 2 results lower than their TN totalling 4 Momentum. NPC-2 rolls and also gets 3 results lower than their TN… is it at this point that the Visor kicks in? are those results considered a success in its own right, knowing that as a face to face test the ultimate success of the Test is not calculated yet.
This might seem like nit-picking but the timing of when a Success is declared can have HUGE ramifications here. If the success is on the individual positions of the F2F rolls then what stops a person dumping the Group Momentum into their total as Group Momentum can always be added on a successful roll, but can never be used to turn a fail into a success. Or does only the ultimate comparison of momentum kick in the success condition?
If the latter is true I would point out that in the above situation that means NPC-2 with the Multispectral gained no benefit from that piece of gear and thus loses the F2F 3 to 4. But if the individual roll are considered Successes they would win 5 to 4 with both parties potentially then skewing the final comparison by dumping momentum on those results.
So at this point you may ask… what’s wrong with being able to dump momentum into that comparison? and the answer is as the GM you should always invest the total amount of Heat that you have in any face to face test. Don’t roll extra dice, just dump in everything. Without any reduction of Momentum from the looser the GM will succeed so long as they can contribute 1 more Momentum to a F2F roll than the players so in a situation with a Group Momentum pool anytime they can put in 7 more momentum they win that tie. And as that is then considered a victory they could (unless Momentum used in a F2F check vanishes into thin air) immediately bank all that they bid straight back into their heat pool.
Now, hopefully all that made sense and that I have simply missed a sidebar somewhere, but im looking for official clarification on timing here before I go grabbing the more detailed mechanics for Struggles from Conan and the unofficial errata that says Group Momentum can’t be used prior to determining success in a F2F roll.