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Move an Asset and Guard Zones in Dueling question

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?


@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



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.


Thanks a bunch @Modiphius-Nathan !!!


One follow up question for the wise folk here: what skill does one roll for the bold/cautious move? My feeling is that it would generally be:

  • Battle for duels (blades and dueling) and warfare (tactics and strategy).

  • Move for skirmishes (moving quickly) and espionage (stealth).

  • Communication for intrigues.

Does that sound right to people?

A very good question @Tupper. Here’s the rub in my mind: it all depends on the type of Conflict, the spend of the Action by the player and any Traits that are being applied. For brevities sake I’ll just write out my thoughts on moves in a Duel Conflict.

In a Duel a character can typically spend their Action to move themselves (disengage, gain the high ground etc.), use an asset or move an asset. I’m sure there are other creative ways to spend that Action players will think up. I’ll stick to these for simplicity.

If they are attempting to Attack using their kindjal (Asset) from their Right Guard Zone into the opponents Left Guard Zone to disarm them of their crysknife (Asset, opponent is a lefty), this to me is a use an asset spend and it is a test using the Battle skill and a contest (target Asset being wielded by the opponent). Note no Traits apply, this is a straight up attack.

If they are spending their action to shift the kindjal into their Left Guard Zone this is a move an asset spend and I’d still suggest Battle. It’s not a contest as it’s not a use an asset (or targeting an opponents Asset). Why Battle if they are just moving an asset? Because in my mind they are still engaged with the opponent and in the midst of a fight. A player may argue else wise.

Let’s say in the first example that the attacking character has an Advantage (Trait) that is knowledge that their opponent has an old injury that causes them to move their left arm slowly. So they want to apply this to the use an asset spend to have an increased chance of disarming the opponent. Now that this Trait comes into play (giving a boon of decreasing the difficulty target generated by the opponents roll), the player requests use of the Understand skill that better reflects them being able to maneuver their kindjal to strip the opponent of their crysknife (and because their Understand skill is higher than their Battle skill sneaky players!). In that example I’d go with the player’s idea and use Understand.

I am sure there are more combinations I haven’t thought of. I feel that GMs have to be really flexible when adjudicating what players want to do with skills. The RAW states the GM selects, but let us GMs be ready for counter-proposals from players on this like my last example. If the player comes up with a good reason to use another skill I feel I will let it happen for player agency sake… even if it’s a little bit of a stretch. No one likes when their creative ideas on skill use are overruled by an iron fisted GM after all!

Now on the Subtley and Bold aspects, I think that concept can be used on all of the above. Perhaps it doesn’t make as much narrative sense on the Understand use as much as the others but I can see where a player may want to apply Boldly and take the risk of failure penalties if there is another Asset in possession of the opponent that would benefit the attacker by moving it.

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@szaccardi Thanks for that. I guess the answer is: it depends. Sometimes the “default” skill (as described above in my post) would be the one to go with, but under some circumstances, another skill might be more appropriate.

Bit of thread necromancy here. I thought I had it clear (from Nathan’s comment) that you could move in a way that was neither subtle nor bold. This made sense, given the comment in Espionages that spies with low quality have to move subtly or boldly to get past defences, whereas high quality spies don’t have this constraint (page 178):

When you attempt to move a spy asset, compare the spy’s Quality with the highest-rated security measures of the zone they are moving to. If the security measures have a higher Quality, the spy cannot enter that zone without attempting to move subtly or boldly.

However, the new version of the book, under movement (page 166), reads:

When you move, you 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 proves a response.

By my read, that’s a pretty unambiguous statement that there isn’t a “neutral” move (that doesn’t require a roll) … contrary to Nathan’s comment above. Was this intentional? If so, how do we interpret the page 178 passage (i.e. what can a high quality spy do that a low quality spy can’t)?

My read on it is that there is a “standard” move. From the preceding paragraph on pg. 166:

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.

From there, Core introduces the concept of subtle and bold, which would be modifications to a Standard Move requiring a D2 skill test (subject to further modification by Traits and Assets).

That would be in keeping with your initial read, i.e. there is a Standard Move and Espionage would be a more specific rule and, therefore, supersede the general movement rules.


This one has turned out to be a GM decision.
I’d taken it to be that you could only make a bold or subtle move.
But Nathan has since said you can do a move without a test that does not gain any bonuses.

Generally I feel there should always be some sort of test to move an asset into a defensive zone or your opposition. But you might wave that test when moving between zones that are friendly.


To build on this point, that is entirely within the rules as written, per this quote from my previous post.

In essence, a normal move doesn’t require a skill test as standard, but the circumstances may require a skill test to make a normal move (in which case, assume it has a default difficulty of 0, and modify difficulty from there).


Thanks for the comments everyone. Good to hear the thoughts on all fronts.

@Andy-Modiphius I see the advantage of having a difficult-ish task for each move. It avoids the danger (potentially) of a lot of difficulty 1 tasks coming up, which mostly serve to buff up Momentum. It makes defensive assets very helpful, since they can make it very hard to move through zones. I think @Evocatus also raises a good point in the quote: you can still get “free” moves as a result of spending the 2 momentum to get a second move (or indeed someone on the opposition failing their move). So the rule I quoted in espionage would prohibit inept spies being moved around much that way (but good spies might find these “free moves” the best way to slip past heavy defences).

@Modiphius-Nathan I also see the merit in your approach. Without a “free” move, it’s going to be quite difficult for people who don’t have good skills to move at all. So weak participants could end up getting stuck outside the action in the conflict, spending most of their turns failing to move (and, indeed, allowing the other team to take free moves in response).

It’s a puzzler, that’s for sure! :slight_smile:

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Yeah. Sometimes the “no basic move” approach resulted in very much stretching the believability of scenes. Like, a skirmish taking place in and around an office building. Characters were just unable to exit the building due to failed tests, while it should have been a really straightforward thing to do. I kept coming up with various explanations (paniced staff running around, shots nearby forcing you to take cover inside the building), but after a while this sounds more like a farce then exciting battle.
Also, it can be a pretty disappointing thing when you sacrifice your turn just to move a zone, and even that plan fails.


@glowface Thanks for the insight. Sounds like the “maximum game fun” route might be to allow “free” moves, then…

I’ve been playing around with the rules a bit since this conversation (back in August) and am increasingly feeling that all moves should be either subtle or bold. The reason is that (as alluded to in this quote by @szaccardi), moving subtly is a dominated strategy in the presence of a free move.

If you want to move one zone and keep the initiative, you could do it two ways:

  1. Move “freely”, and spend 2 momentum (a D0 task).
  2. Move subtly, and spend 0 momentum (a D2 task).

Assuming you roll for the D0 task, several outcomes could occur:

  1. You roll 0 successes, can move normally, but will have to pay out of reserve momentum (or threat) to retain initiative.
  2. You roll 1 success, can move normally, and would have to pay 1 momentum (or threat) to keep initiative.
  3. You roll 2 successes, and can move normally, and keep the initiative.
  4. You roll 3+ successes, and can move normally, keep the initiative, and bank some momentum.

In contrast, if moving subtly:

  1. If you roll 0 or 1 successes, you don’t move, your opponent gets to move, and you can’t even pay to keep the initiative.
  2. If you roll 2 successes, you get to move and keep the initiative.
  3. If they roll 3+ successes, you get to move, keep the initiative, and bank momentum.

The outcomes for moving freely are strictly better than moving subtly, because you get the same outcomes with 2+ successes, and better outcomes with 0 or 1 success.

This argument carries over to cases where the difficulty is increased (due to traits/assets). In fact, the only cases where you’d want to move subtly (over moving freely) would be where you have a trait that makes moving easier (i.e. reducing the D2 for subtle movement to D1 or D0).

My feeling is that if subtle moves are to be useful in general conflicts, there must be no such thing as a free move. So … I guess I’m coming round to the @Andy-Modiphius view of the world.

So is it intentional that you can only use Momentum and not generate Threat in most conflict-specific actions?

@unferth I don’t think so. I think you can spend threat instead of momentum generally. Even if that’s the case, I still think the reasoning that a subtle move would be dominated by a free move would hold. The key point is that you’re having to make a roll that’s two difficulty levels higher, and getting a benefit that costs two momentum.

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