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Move an Asset and Guard Zones in Dueling question

@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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Yes I guess the advantage of no roll and another go over two successes and possible end is clear.

However if you can generate thread instead of momentum, why won’t any PvGM duel look like this:


  • move to opponent devensive zone - generate two threat - move to personal zone
  • generate two threat - use asset (attack)


  • move to opponent devensive zone - use two threat - move to personal zone
  • use two threat - use asset (attack)


  • use asset (attack)
  • generate two threat - use asset (attack)


  • use asset (attack)
  • use two threat - use asset (attack)

…until someone wins

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This is a big if. There is no guarantee that a player will be permitted to roll for a Difficulty 0 test - the GM is entirely within their rights to say “OK, you succeeded” for a Difficulty 0 task, and skip the roll entirely, and this is how the game should resolve more often than not. There are actions where the whole point of the roll is generating Momentum, and actions where knowing how well you succeed is valuable knowledge, but those are up to the GM to judge, and should be a relative minority.

Treating a ‘free move’ as D0 is a useful conceit because it means we can allow traits and assets to affect the difficulty of that free move, but that doesn’t mean you can assume that a free move is a free chance to generate Momentum. It’s a simple no-risk move, so why should you be rewarded for it?


You can only pay Threat instead of spending Momentum where the rules specifically allow it. So, buying bonus d20s and keeping the initiative, specifically allow Threat to be used instead. Other options do not allow such free exchange of Threat and Momentum.


@unferth That was basically my conclusion: there’s not much stopping an “all out attack” like you describe. Some subtlety might ensue, though, in that bold moves might be useful for moving the opponent’s knife out of your personal zone.

However, @Modiphius-Nathan’s point that you can’t pay threat for the extra move puts the kibosh on that “rush” strategy (which is good, because it could make for some repetitive duels).

@Modiphius-Nathan: thanks for pointing out how the D0 tasks work. What you say makes sense, otherwise automatic tasks are a great way to restore momentum, which (if I understand things correctly) is the purpose of the gaining information action in conflicts.

These two points (not being able to spend threat for all momentum uses and not always being able to roll automatic tasks) seem pretty key to how the conflict rules fit together.

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