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Move an Asset and Guard Zones in Dueling question

I had a question about the zones when it comes to dueling. It seems like the difficulty to move an asset is always 2. And only attacking with an asset is modified/contested by opponents roll and defensive assets. So if I’m not attempting to attack the defending weapon for a disarm, then it causes no extra difficulty moving through the zone.

Is that ever modified for duels? Like if you wanted to move your asset (knife) into an opponents guard zone (where they also have a knife) is that (move asset) modified at all? Or are the zones only there to require more moves to get to the core zone? Just trying to wrap my head around what the point of a guard zone is if it doesn’t provide a defensive bonus.

I understand I could do this either way, but like to start with the designer’s intent before modifying anything.

So, TLDR, are the dueling guard zones there to just eat up asset movement, or is there a way to gain a movement penalty on your opponent by occupying them with a defensive asset?

Yes, very much so.
The Difficulty 2 is just the base.
Any asset is also a trait (in fact, pretty much everything in Dune is a trait in some form) so if the trait is not being used to allow the roll, it can be used to modify a roll.
So if you get two blades in a defensive zone, as traits you might argue one is allowing the move action toward the target zone and the other is modifying the difficulty. Basically, one blade is pushing the attack, the other feinting to confuse the opponent.

Conversely the defender can use their assets the same way.
Tests can be a back and forth of each player/Gm applying assets and traits (and Momentum and threat) to change the circumstance in their favour until everything potentially in play is counted - then they move or strike.

There is also an option for the zone itself to modify a roll, as that can also have traits. Being on high ground (which as we know from Star Wars is a lethal advantage :slight_smile: ) might grant a bonus or penalty to an attacker or defender.

So, the short answer is traits are your friend here, and you can use as many or few as you like depending on the level of complexity you prefer.

Hey thanks again!

Thanks for the answer, Andy. I was also a bit stuck on this. I read the sentence “The attacker’s final Difficulty increases by +1 for each defensive asset in the target’s zone” as only referring to the act of attacking, rather than also moving.

I have a follow up confusion though: I’m a bit muddled between creating a trait and creating an asset, particularly in the context of duelling. At first I thought assets here were weapons (motivated by the sentence “A dueling asset must be a weapon of some kind…”), and that if someone threw his/her opponent off balance, or distracted him/her, that would be giving the opponent a trait (“off balance” or “distracted”), which would then influence all of the opponent’s rolls in the duel. However, later on, these examples are described as being intangible assets (“Alternatively, an intangible asset might be some hindrance inflicted upon an opponent…”).

So … if hindrances are intangible assets, does that mean they move around the zones? Can they be used to defeat an opponent, like a weapon asset? Also, when you create assets, which zone do they start in?

Lastly, if you get disarmed in a duel, you immediately gain “unarmed attack” with a quality of 0. Since most weapons have a quality of 0, doesn’t this mean disarming someone doesn’t really set them back at all: they can continue to attack with their hands with no real setback?

The key here is remembering assets are effectively all traits.
So the difference between assets and traits is not in what they do but in how they can be applied.

A knife asset will affect actions in the zone its in, but might be moved to a different zone. A trait might be an environmental effect that applies to one or many zones but cannot move.
In all cases the asset or trait only comes into play if you can justify it having an effect.
You might argue ‘its raining lightly’ in a zone will have no effect on a Caladan fighter, but might significantly unnerve a Fremen warrior.

You might create a trait in a zone as you describe, but it would be another good option for an intangible asset. Its all about what you can justify to the GM when you create it. Same for initial placement, it should go in the most appropriate zone as agreed by the GM. Given you might create as many zones a you like there is no hard and fast rule for this, only ‘what you think is right given the situation’.

Armed/unarmed is actually a good way to emphasize all this.
You don’t gain or need a trait for unarmed combat. That is simply fighting without an asset.
Remember an asset/trait does 2 things - lets or stops you making a test, or it can modify a test.
So, if you are challenged to a knife fight, your knife asset is letting you make the test.
But if you are fighting a guy in the street and he doesn’t have a weapon, you can use it to modify the difficulty instead.
If that same opponent pulls a knife, both being equal you might say they just cancel out each other’s advantage to make life easier.

But, in a duel you do need something to move, as you say. You can argue that having lost the knife the unarmed combatant cannot continue to take part in the duel except for defending themself as the blade is what allows them to attack. You might shift the fight into a skirmish instead and fight it out that way.
While a little off the usual track a quality 0 unarmed attack asset is a good solve for this problem. But ideally the fighter might have to defend themselves with nothing until they build up the threat/momentum to purchase a new asset, representing a knife they pull from a boot or are handed by the crowd.

Hope that makes some more sense :slight_smile:

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Thanks Andy. That makes things a lot clearer. This game’s a bit of a “paradigm shift” for me as a gamer. I’m really liking it, though. I think leaving details to GMs gives them a lot of latitude to make interesting conflicts for the players by mixing up what they can and can’t do, which assets help where, and which skills are used for the different tests that come up.

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During a normal scenario duel do you recommend you always have to move subtly or boldly when you attempt to move a friendly asset (dagger) into a zone with an enemy asset (dagger)?

Or could you just move for no difficulty or would the asset increase the difficulty? So a normal move would be 1 and a subtly or bold move would be 3 difficulty instead?

So these would be standard skills tests rather than contests as although effected by the enemy asset it is not a direct action against the opponent?

Moving is usually a standard action.
The Difficulty assumes that while it might be your asset, your opponent is making it hard for you to do so as part of the conflict.
The Difficulty can be adjusted, but thats usually done by traits and the like. Neither type of move is innately easier than the other.
So if you apply a trait to a zone (such as ‘slippery’ in a skirmish or ‘off hand’ in a duel for instance) that can affect the Difficulty of potentially any test made in that zone.

Essentially this does allow the GM to make Difficulty adjustments as they like, as they can usually add such traits to different places and decide how they apply. But making sure they use the trait system ensures they also offer a narrative reason why that move or action might be easier or harder.

Sorry I’m still not getting it.

Standard action makes me think there is no difficulty?
Then because its a duel there will always be a difficulty? So any move will require a dice roll? But is the 2 difficulty for subtly or boldly then added to this standard action difficulty?

Is someone able to to post an actual duel example as that would clear it up? As otherwise I expect I will continue to ask questions until I get it.

Thanks

Not quite, it’s actually a lot easier than you’ve got there.
A standard test is just rolling against a set Difficulty.
Extended is when you need to score points towards a requirement, then opposed is when the opponent sets the Difficulty.
So there is always a difficulty for any of those rolls.
You can set a difficulty 0 test but that’s usually only for standard ones.

For any conflict the difficulty to move an asset is 2. That’s the base difficulty for that test so you start there and adjust if anyone uses a power or ability to do so.

@DanL , I think I see your problem.
Andy previously clarified: in confict, all movement must be bold or subtle, there is no ‘standard’ move that requires no roll. The Difficulty is 2 for these tests, unless special trait make it harder or easier to move assets.
As a home rule, I think I will rule that you may move your asset without a test, if you want, if there are no enemy assets either in the zone you are moving from, or in the zone you are moving into, and there are no special traits applying which would make the movement more challenging (for example, no obstacles, no slippery terrain, no blinding sandstorms, etc).

Thanks that’s very helpful and makes sense now.

Looking forward to getting my first campaign going :slight_smile:

There is a lot of confusion here it seems. Maybe it’s me.

Here’s the core rule books rules for a spent characters turn action used to Move:

You move one of your assets (or your character, in some cases) from its current location to any adjacent zone. You may spend 2 points of Momentum to move your chosen asset one additional zone, or to choose a second asset to move one zone.


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 additional benefits…

Twice in there the term “you may” is written. I read that as an optional decision a player makes. Let me break this down.

You move one of your assets (or your character, in some cases) from its current location to any adjacent zone.

You move… period. Full stop. I don’t see anything about a test there. You expended an action to have your character move an asset or themselves one zone.

You may spend 2 points of Momentum to move your chosen asset one additional zone, or to choose a second asset to move one zone.

You may spend two momentum (or threat for GM NPCs) to do more stuff. This is an optional spend for the characters controlling player (or GM).

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.

You may, once you spent that action to Move, add an effect (Bold or Subtle) and take a risk to further enhance the move. This is where the character makes the test. That is the risk.

So I’m reading that there is a base move of an asset (or character) that is available by spending your action. There are two options you can make if you spend the extra resources to do so. For the extra zones you spend momentum/threat, for the bold/subtle it’s a risk/reward trade off via a skill check difficulty 2. Pass/fail with reward/penalty.

Am I missing something?

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@szaccardi That’s pretty much how I parsed that section: you can move for free, or move subtly/boldly (with the risk of failing to move). However, Andy (in the errata thread) said (referring to the appendix which summarises moving as being difficulty 2):

“Ah, in a conflict the only way to move is subtle or boldly, so thats not an error.
Making a skill test using Move would be a different thing though.”

So the official word is that you have to move boldly or subtly. There’s no ability to do a “free” move, wherein you don’t have to roll.

The conundrum comes about because of defensive assets. If you can do a “free” move, then it’s unclear how defensive assets impede your ability to move. For example, in a duel, you can just free move your knife around, past the opponent’s knife, and into their home zone. If every move is bold or subtle, then the +1 difficulty from the defensive asset makes it difficult to just move past defences.

I guess you could get around this problem (and retain the option to do a “free” move) by regarding a defensive asset as an obstacle that must be overcome to keep moving. Then the opponent’s knife becomes a difficulty 1 obstacle that you have to get past before you can move on…

But I completely agree it’s an oddly worded passage if it’s supposed to mean you have to move subtly or boldly.

Yup, thats my take.
It says ‘may’ as you can choose to move or not move an asset. You don’t have to move an asset.
But the options are always to do so subtly or boldly.

I’ve spent two days with this preoccupying my background thought processes. Apologies if I seem insistent, I must fully understand this to clear up that nagging in my head. Also, apologies for this awful long post. In order to get my thoughts straight I needed to write this all down and well, why not share for those that would find it interesting.

I may certainly be wrong here, but I think there is some conflation going on between moving assets and characters, and movement of those elements among a conflicts zones.

Here’s my thinking on the RAW. To develop an understanding of the Move rules we have to examine Conflict first.

Conflict is a generic concept including the following defined scopes: Dueling, Skirmishes, Warfare, Espionage, and Intrigue. Notably, Negotiations and Intrigue are cases where most if not all zones are “free-floating” and are adjacent to every other zone. My thinking, in part, hinges on the supposition that zone adjacency plays into the resource expenditure decision by the players for the Move action.

In the Taking Action section on p.166, there are two defined examples of expenditure for a characters turn action: Move and Use an Asset.

My reading of the language is this:

For Move

  • A player can use their character’s turn action to Move an asset or the character themselves (if no asset is possessed).
  • If the action was used to move either an asset or the character, the player may modify the Move action to extend the movement of that asset/character, or move another asset/character entirely, by spending 2 Momentum.
  • If the action was used to move either an asset or the character, the player may seek to gain an advantage by taking on a risk to pass/fail a skill test with a corresponding reward/penalty by moving the asset/character boldly or subtly.

For Use An Asset

  • A player can expend their action to do a number of things including: attacking, removing an asset/trait, creating a new asset/trait, overcoming an obstacle, gaining information, removing a trait from or aiding an ally,
  • Regardless of the desired outcome, this action always requires a skill test.

An important distinction here is that last bullet in Use an Asset. This is very specific language that does not appear in the Move section of the core rules. The words, “…this action always requires a skill test,” are important. The implication here is that the preceding uses of the turn action in the text for Move, do not always require a skill test. Or at least, this is the proposition I am exploring.

How to validate this? I modeled an example of a Skirmish (agent play) conflict. I set it up such that if the Move as a simple use of action (without Boldly or Subtly) did not exist, there would arise gameplay issues. The existence of these gameplay issues would therefore indicate the necessity of a Move as a standalone use of an action. I know, crazy! But hey, let’s analyze this Skirmish:

The GM sets the scene and draws the zones. The player’s main character (PC) is in red, while two bandits are in black (NPC). The PC has a knife asset as does NPC2. NPC1 has no asset. The PC is hidden behind the wall in Zone 1 at scene start.

Momentum Pool: 2
Threat Pool: 0

Turn 1: The GM has no Threat and grants the first action to the PC.

The player thinks about how to spend the turns action. They can spend their action to perform a Move from the shadows and get the jump on the bandits rather than staying hidden. But how to execute this? The player could decide to spend their action to Move into Zone 2 and then spend an additional 2 Momentum to move one additional zone into Zone 3 to take on the armed bandit first. But they decide against this route as they reason it will be an easier attack against the unarmed bandit. So they decide Zone 2 is where they want to end up. Once there, the player is going to Keep the Initiative by spending their 2 Momentum to gain an extra action so they can immediately attack the NPC with their knife by Use an Asset.

Now here’s where the argument for the concept of an action spend to Move without doing so Boldly or Subtly comes into consideration. If the player had to move Boldy or Subtly, they would have to risk a skill test with the penalty for failure which would givie the GM the opportunity to immediately perform a Move on a single asset one zone, which would undoubtedly be NPC 2 into Zone 2. Additionally, the player would lose the use of their Momentum to Keep the Initiative for that attack on NPC1. Yikes! That’s way too risky. If the player can decide to simply Move into Zone 2 without the additional effects of extended movement, or risk a bold/subtle test, it gives the player more tactical choices, and maximum agency.

Alright, the player makes their decision and announces it: they spend their action on a Move into Zone 2:

Now that the character and his asset is where the player wants it to be, they announce to the GM they are going to spend their 2 Momentum to Keep the Initiative.

With an extra action to spend, the player announces their attack by spending that action on Use an Asset with the knife and a contest is rolled.

This attack sequence makes sense to me and it was possible because of the ability to Move without the risk of the boldly/subtly test and possibly losing the opportunity to attack first, which looking at the scene definitely feels right. The PC jumps from cover and gets the first attack on the surprised bandits.

Conversely, if the boldly/subtly was forced with Move, there is a chance for Momentum gain if they pass, and either a reduced Keep the Initiative or the ability to move one of their assets. But looking at what could happen on a failure, its not worth that risk for the small gain. Furthermore by having that three way choice: Move normally, extend the Move, or go for broke with Boldly/Subtly, the player has more agency.

Thus my gut tells me that the RAW’s intent is that there is a “normal” Move option.

And with all of that, I could still be wrong and made a dozen mistakes in this analysis. :slight_smile:

Map credit: Heroic Maps. Find them on https://www.wargamevault.com

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OK…

Early in design, the intent was that all attempts to move an asset required a choice to move boldly or move subtly. But during early concept testing, it became apparent that this wasn’t working quite as intended: there were situations where neither option really fit.

Thus, the structure of moving was changed so that basic movement didn’t require a test, but characters could choose to take a risk with a ploy of being subtle or bold to gain an additional, valuable benefit at the risk of stalling your own progress (you can’t spent Momentum to move further, and you can’t keep the initiative) and giving an opportunity to the enemy. Indeed, the penalty for failing one of these ploys was made more severe here as part of this restructure.

These ploys have a base difficulty of 2 because that was the right break point for the risk and reward available: a base difficulty of 1 was too easy that the risk became too trivial, while a difficulty of 3 or higher made the reward too costly to reach.

However, as with all test difficulties in the game, it can be modified by circumstances, and these circumstances are typically represented by Traits (which include Assets, as Assets are essentially a sub-category of Trait).

The same also applies to the basic move: a trait that makes things more difficult could reasonably be applied to make an action require a test when it normally wouldn’t, or to prevent you from attempting some actions at all. In a skirmish, an obstacle or area of difficult terrain might be applied this way, making movement more difficult as you move along a particular route.

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Thanks a bunch @Modiphius-Nathan !!!

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