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Need better/indepth examples of

@Andy-Modiphius thanks for the reply.

So, given that Narrative Cohesion is the guiding principle here what justification is there for asking the Players to spend Momentum to find/use something that narratively should be in the scene anyway?

In the case of the Security Pass that the Guard has, why is there any need at all to use Momentum if the PCs want that Security Pass?

The GM doesn’t have to decide, in advance I assume you mean, the equipment list of every NPC; the GM just has to decide if it makes Narrative Sense for X or Y to be present in the scene when the PCs ask about it.

Now, if I wanted to - narratively - make getting the Security Pass a bit of a challenge, instead of it being in the Guard’s Pocket I might place it in a “Key Safe” in the Guard Post and make it a Difficulty 3 or 4 Roll (it makes narrative sense to have such items secured somehow); and the PCs might choose to spend Momentum to gain extra Dice for the Roll to break the key-code to open the Key Safe.

But I’d never require PCs to spend Momentum just to “find” something that narratively should be in the scene anyway.

I’m afraid you’re still missing the point here.
The keycard isn’t the only way through the door.
Its not a video game where you need to find X to do Y.
Its not even a game where the GM offers several options and clues in the scene to suggest how to deal with it (although they can).
It is all up to the players to figure it out.

The players are faced with a problem - in this case they need to get through a door.
Its not up to the GM to decide a method and then provide them with a key if they can find it.
It is up to the players to figure out how they can best use their equipment, talents and abilities to find away through.
They might try to use any asset they have, use violence, charm a guard or anything else they can conceive of to deal with the problem.
Assets will help that in some cases, either aiding their roll or allowing them a chance to do something they otherwise couldn’t.
If they have an asset that can help, they can use that one. If none of the assets they have make narrative sense to use, they might be able to ‘create’ (or rather find) one if they can make a convincing narrative case for it. They may even be able to attempt something without any assets, an asset isn’t always required.

The important thing is that the players decide what they want to do to solve the problem and that can potentially be anything, not limited to what the GM has prewritten or just what they have to hand.

This doesn’t mean everything is easy, they still have to roll and assets only help.
But what matters is that it is the players guideing the story and outcome rather than being told by the GM that they have to do X to pass the next bit of adventure.

So in the case of the keycard, it is very much Schrodinger’s keycard. Its not on the guard waiting for them to find it. Its not an item they must have and need to spend points to get to move ahead. Like any other potential thing you might find in a scene it might be on a guard and it might be helpful. You can put a keycard in a safe, you could even make it a roll to get it. But there isn’t much difference between making a roll and spending the results of previously good rolls (Momentum). If they don’t have any momentum they’ll have to either give the GM threat or think of something else. The GM might even just throw it into the scene if the players are having a hard time and the GM wants to help them out a bit.

While you can make finding a keycard a challenge, its not the actual challenge. Thats getting through the door.

So the GM doesn’t even need to decide if there is a keycard in the scene until the players say '“Damn, we need another option. I’ll spend momentum to create anew asset. Hey, how about a keycard, there could be one of the guard we just took down.” Only then does the GM have to decide if such an item might reasonably be found there, and if it makes narrative sense for it to help the test.


And nowhere at all did I say it was.
I was using it as an example.

So they are creating assets out of thin air, but you said they didn’t.
Which one is it?
You wrote the rules and don’t seem to understand them!

Now do you understand my confusion?

The players are creating assets, the characters are finding them in the scene.

As a GM do you list every single possible item and if it is not on your list then the players can never find it?
I assume not, you will adapt to player questions and if the players ask about the key card you will decide on the fly if one exists or not.

What the momentum spend is doing is effectively giving some of that power to adjust the scene to players. The GM has final say as always, but this way the players have the ability to influence the universe. (again, the players not the characters)

This is a core element of games such as Fate and as a mechanic has been around the Roleplay scene for years. It is not something that Modiphius has just magiced up for the 2d20 system.


Please, feel free to assume wrongly then.

I am currently using a Virtual Table Top - so EVERYTHING has to be pre-planned, and prepared.

And for the purposes of any meaningful discussion of this type of mechanics the Player and the Character is identical.

The Player creates an Assent specifically for the Character.
The Character is missing something, so the Player creates it for them.

OK. I stand corrected. Personal RP bias has blinkered me here.
I did not believe that a GM could only work with preplanned material. That they could predict everything their players might do. I certaintly can’t and don’t want to. Part of my enjoyment as a GM is seeing how my players adapt to my scenario and do things I don’t expect.

In which case I think there is a fundamental difference in roleplay styles as I view the player and character as separate entities.
The character can only work within the confines of the universe. They cannot create something from nothing.
The players sits outside that universe, with the momentum they can alter that universe. In the same manner as a GM.

This may be the key here. I am viewing my players as having a stake in powers that are normally the preserve of the GM. It is a difference from the games back in the 80s and 90s where the players generally didn’t have that power.


sigh If you avoid jibes and insults you will get a much better response.

Assets can be created by the players and appear in the scene, but only when narratively appropriate. I don’t consider that ‘created out of thin air’ as there has to be a reason for them to potentially be there. But until they are brought into the story they don’t exist.
So no, as I said before, they are not created ‘out of thin air’ as that implies you can just chuck in any old rubbish which is not the case.

My players have complete “narrative freedom” they can do anything they want.
I am a “consequentialist” do what you want, but it all has consequences.

Normally I wouldn’t have everything planned out and prepared; but using a VTT makes that less than ideal. In my VTT WFRP there are literally hundreds of items I could drag to the scene if I need them; but they first have to be created as an item - so when designing a scene I HAVE to be aware of all possibilities, and try and cover them in terms of VTT assets. That does mean that a typical 3-4 hour game session can need upto 5-6 hours preparation time - and usually 50%+ of it goes unused.

In my Foundry VTT WFRP I have a small town completely mapped out in 3d, with Journal Entries for every street and building, all linked so that you can click on a street on the “overview” map and be taken to a Street Level 3d view of that street, over 120 NPCs with full Character Sheets, backgrounds, and motivations, and close on 80 unique food and drink items so that every Inn / Tavern has a different Menu. Just mapping it out in Flowscape was 120+ hours work, with literally every single asset placed manually. All in all there’s probably 350 hours work in that Town. At some point I may package it up as a Module and stick it on DriveThruRPG and try and make a little money from it - but not yet, its not quite finished.

For me, the key to a believable, immersive Narrative is a detailed, living world.

But if they don’t exist until “paid for” by Momentum they are not Narratively necessary, and so have no place being there.

If something makes sense from a purely narrative point of view it should be there, regardless of whether or not the Players spend resources for it to be there.

What you are describing literally breaks narrative integrity.

We’ll just have to absolutely disagree on that point in that case.
Any narrative can cope with new things being added, thats the point of a developing story.
Created assets are necessary as they are created to serve a purpose, as defined by the current narrative. The characters need something new to do the job as what they have isn’t solving their problem.

What I do absolutely agree on is that detail is a vital part of narrative. But you could have saved yourself hundreds of hours of work by allowing the players to help define those details as you played, which is what happens in Dune. I would argue this would offer the players a far more immersive experience for having a creative part in the game setting.

I’d also add that an item only really becomes an asset if its going to prove useful as one. Just because you’ve not specified the details of every tankard asset in the pub it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any. It just means that if a character reaches for a weapon, they might turn one of these tankards into an asset to use in a fight.

Having said that, if you do want to play with a more defined set of options, you still can. There is nothing stopping you dropping the option for player created assets and listing out all the things you will allow as assets in any scene. I’d argue you are making a hell of a lot of extra work for yourself and cutting out the player’s creativity, but it would still work fine.

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Doesn’t this contradict what you just put later on? They can do anything they want as long as you have premade the asset for it.
So if they want to do something that you haven’t planned for and created an asset (I.e, we want to leave town and go to the airport) you have to stop them and say they can’t as you don’t have the assets for it.

I mean it sounds like an amazing amount of work and not something I would ever consider putting the immense amount of time and effort into. But you have restricted your players to only that town and the assets you have precreated.

The philosophy behind it assumes the GM has total control of the universe.
As I see the 2d20 system (and almost any game I run) the GM has partial control of the universe and it shared with the players.

I must add that when I have run online I have not used a VTT. My online games have been a lot more free form with maybe a simple map and some images I throw up if I want to illustrate a point.

If they really went so far off-piste that I had no way of immediately progressing I’d call a halt on that session and create all those assets in time for the next session - in fact I’ve had to do that with in-person gaming as well once.

As regards that town - the players love it - and plan to make it a long term base of operations; but even after having spent just 4-5 sessions there (so 15-20 hours game time) they are moving on to other narratively important “adventures”.

The moment I showed them the town they were all gobsmacked, and loved it - but I made it 100% clear that if “their story” led elsewhere that was 100% fine as well. Long term, they’ll be back - the Cleric wants to establish a shrine to his deity, the Watchman turned Bounty Hunter thinks he can end up as commander of the town-guard with some clever moves. They’ll be back for sure.

But like many GMs I guess part of the reason I create stuff is I love doing it. In 35 years of GMing I would guess that only 30-35% of all the stuff I have ever created has ever been used - especially the system specific stuff. General ideas are more transferable.

There is no reason not to merge the two styles.
Create as much as you like and allow the players to add more.
Thats what I do anyway.

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And here is the key difference in style I think.
I would start to make up the airport on the fly and keep the session running.
2d20 plays to this style. It allows the players to go off-piste a lot easier.

This isn’t to everyone’s taste obviously, it goes directly against how you run your games, with a more structured universe that can’t be altered on the fly with new assets and locations.

Neither method is better than the other. But the asset mechanic in 2d20 will not work in that style of game.

As Andy suggests if you want to use 2d20 then modify that aspect and say it can’t be used on the fly, but can be used between sessions.

After all modifying systems to fit with your group is part of what being a GM is about.
Unless playtesting I’ve never run a system ‘out of the box’. I’ve always tinkered with it to fit my table.

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I think that part of the issue here is that the RedneckRPGer isn’t familiar with the narrative conventions of play that 2d20 is based on. But only part of the issue. Because the way that the Duelling system is described, both in the book and in any responses here in the forum, really doesn’t make sense in any way that is playable at the table.

I have decades of experience with dozens of different RPG systems. I also love the 2d20 system. I own, and have run, several different incarnations of it (Conan, Star Trek, John Carter) in very successful games. So when I can’t get how the Duelling system is supposed to work then it’s not a case of the reader failing to grasp something obvious. You really have failed to properly express how that particular sub-system of the rules is supposed to play out.

While you seem to be verging on declaring “Troll, do not engage” here there’s one thing that I think that both fans and Modiphius staff need to accept. Modphius are really, really bad at laying out their rules in a way that’s easy for readers to understand. Creating a ruleset that works well and writing a document that explains it to people who’ve never played it are two different skillsets. The Modiphius team have the first in spades but utterly lack the second.

So my suggestion is, instead of just claiming that the corebook explains how it works (it doesn’t), maybe do what people have asked for a few times and post an extended round-by-round example of how a duel is supposed to work somewhere that people can refer to? Because while the rules might seem blindingly obvious to the people trying to answer here I can assure you that there’s people who feel otherwise.

There’s these Zones and you move your weapons around in them because… Why exactly? And how? And doesn’t this just make the combat a race to stab the other guy first? I apologise if some of this sounds angry or accusatory but I’m increasingly frustrated by my inability to get this and replies that claim it’s actually obvious.


@Andy-Modiphius @CountThalim

Thank you all for having this discussion. I love that we all can talk about how we all personally view narrative creation in RPGs and the discussion has helped me understand finally where my own confusion lies with 2D20.

When I read the book (this is my first 2D20 game) I resisted the mechanics because my background is in RPGs that allow
The players playing the characters free flow narrative creation with the mechanics in the background to naturally come in to support and change the narrative. PBTA is the best example.

However when I read the rule book for Dune my perception from the way the book is written is that the mechanics are FRONT loaded as tools that are used to create and shape
The narrative FIRST and then then after the mechanics are used then the narrative is described second. So my perception was that the players shape and create the narrative with the mechanics that the characters live in. whereas in PBTA the player IS
The character. Acts AS the character. Says what they want to DO as the character and the mechanics elegantly come from the back to support this free form expression.

Now you are saying that your personal view for RPGs is that a player plays TWO roles in a game. The Player standing outside the narrative making choices FOR the character the the Character that is INSIDE the narrative.

Like the difference between an author writing a novel in first person vs third person.

So are you all saying Dune is supposed to be played in THIRD person? Because if that’s the case than ALL my confusion about the rules then melts away and everything makes sense.

But here’s the thing…the way the rules examples are written it’s showing the application of the rules as if the player is playing AS the character not as the player acting outside the narrative marking choices on BEHALF of the character.

I see this most often when the creation of traits are described.

The design of this game is brilliant.

But……in my opinion designing a game and writing a rule book to teach a game are two completely different skill sets. I’m sorry but I have to agree with the other poster that Modiphius could greatly improve in that aspect. It seems like Modiphius and the professional wrecking crew know the game so we’ll they can’t see that writing a book to teach it has to be intended for an audience that has no clue what’s going on.

I’ve read the rule book twice now and I am now on these forums becuse I still don’t understand how to Apply rules like traits and do some of the conflicts. And believe me I really appreciate all the work and time from this community to help each other and Modiphius bending over backwards to help but If I have to come to a forum for that. If the rules as written are not enough to clearly teach the game then that’s a problem.

Some examples of master class in rule book writing are Torchbearer 2e by Buring Wheel and ANY book written by Chaosium. Like Runequest RP in Glorantha.

The game system is crunch and vast but the book is a MasterClass in writing. Everything is 100percemt crystal clear. The writing of a rule book to me can make or break a game despite the design of the game being brilliant.

So back to my question. Am I supposed to play Dune in third person? Acting as the player making choices on behalf of
The character and NOT playing AS the character?



Not a dev (or Andy and Thalim either) but here is my opinion on the question posed:

Dune and the 2d20 rulesets in general do introduce a level of abstraction - meta currencies and mechanical nuance (Traits and Assets in Dune) - that could “break immersion”, if you will, in the strictest sense, i.e. come between the 1:1 narrative flow of player and PC and remind you that this is a dice game.

Additionally, in Architect play, Dune introduces a further abstraction where PCs can act at a remove from the boots on the ground, moving Assets and engaging in conflicts that is a little like moving pieces on a chessboard (but, is thematically on-point, “wheels within wheels”). I can see where this could reinforce the impression that you’re in third person rather than first.

I’m not sure I see a strong distinction between first and third person in Dune (or, in RGPs generally). I understand the concept, but even in a narrative forward ruleset like PbTA, you’ll still need to pick-up dice or refer to your playbook, which to me seem immersion breaking and/or introduces a level of meta (positioning for modifiers, etc.) that pulls you out of the scene. These are games, after all.

Granted, I wouldn’t argue that there aren’t degrees - some games simply ARE more mechanics-heavy than others. There is a push-pull embedded in 2d20 that provides some mechanical heft and might not recede into the background but does hopefully serve to simulate genre conventions.

But, to answer your question directly - no, I do think a player is perfectly capable of making choices as the character, even with the meta mechanics. In my opinion, players can and should base their choices on the fiction, even when in Architect play.

Modiphius rulebooks are unfortunately riddled with ambiguous and clumsy phrasing that makes more than a few rules hard to interpret. They could really use a read-through by someone who doesn’t already know the system backward and forward to highlight these areas and rephrase statements for clarity. I’ve had to watch YouTube videos to clarify a lot of things. Great games, but the writing leaves something to be desired.


Apologies if the rules haven’t come across clearly, but we do playtest extensively and have people unfamiliar with it look over the books. The various translators have also been very helpful in that too.

I will look at doing some example play blogs to illustrate some of the points.
However, in general I’ve noticed that most people mainly get confused thinking the system is more complex than it actually is.

Conflict is basically ‘I move there and make an attack, success, its over’.

The idea of the system is to allow you to narrate a scene in pretty much any way, then use the rules to back up what you do with a clear call on whether the action fails or succeeds.
There is a lot of judgement call on the part of the GM though which may be the cause of some confusion. For instance, a trait applies if the GM agrees that it applies. For any roll at any time. There is no rule for when it should apply, except that its up to the GM. So quite often you may be looking for a rule to say ‘you do this here’ when actually the rule is ‘it happens if the GM decides or the player convinces them it should apply’.

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