Opposed Melee checks

Hi, really looking forward to this as a big fan of cthulhu and Conan 2d20,hoping it might become our main 2d20 game.
Am a bit puzzled by opposed combat. If the difficulty is deducted from the checks before they are compared then surely the opposed defence will almost never do anything? Defence result of 1(the commonest outcome in most cases) will have zero affect unless the attacker misses outright.
We’re playing through the quickstart, and haven’t had much combat yet, but will see what happens.

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You don’t subtract anything. Both sides roll, default difficulty is 1 (but see also Reach and Guard) and if the Defender wins they can either inflict damage or move away.

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What happens between ‘difficulty is 1’ and 'if the defender wins? I think the rules say that comparison is based on momentum each side, I.e. Successes with difficulty subtracted.
Another way to ask- what difference does it make if a defender gets 1 success, or no successes (the most common results by far) vs difficulty 1?

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“Each success in excess of the difficulty
generates 1 point of Momentum (see Momentum, page 17).”

“Compare the total Momentum
generated on each character’s skill test. The character with the
higher Momentum wins and achieves their goal, but they lose
1 Momentum for each Momentum their opponent scored”

From page 13 and 4 of the quickstart.

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It’s a complicated way of saying “the side with more successes wins” but this comes with some caveats:

  • anyone who does not beat the difficulty cannot deal damage,
  • any Momentum lost during comparison cannot be used for combat Momentun spends.

Example: A tries to hit B, difficulty 1 for both.
A scores two successes, B scores three. Difficulty is one, so A comes out with a net of 1 while B has a net of 2. 2 is greater than 1 so B wins, scores a hit and can roll for damage. Yet, A’s one net success generated 1 Momentum that reduces B’s Momentum ba 1. So B can only spend 1 Momentum for extra damage etc.

If only one side beats the difficulty, this side wins. If no side beats the difficulty, noone wins and nothing happens. If both sides beat difficulty: see above.


It also makes any Talents that generate bonus Momentum really good in an opposed test.

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However getting 2 successes one side and 3 the other would be really rare.
Much more typically, the attacker gets 1 success. The defender gets 1 success, the attacked still hits with no spare momentum. Or the defender gets 0 successes, same outcome.
Or the attacker gets 2 success. The defender gets 1 success, has no impact on the outcome.
That’s my issue.

That’s what Momentum & Fortune and Brace are for.

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Perhaps, but my experience of the quickstart and extensive play in 3 other 2d20 systems is that the commonest result is 1 success.
I suppose defence is free, so no actual loss if it often does nothing even when it feels like it should. Will see how it goes before I start houseruling prematurely.

I’d say that 1 success as a norm indicates that the players aren’t using the available tools to gather more dice.


Do the players not spend Momentum, give the GM Threat or use Fortune/Determination?


If for some reason a player expects an adversary in Melee to their character to just generate the needed successes for their attack and not more, they may have their character Brace (QS p.22) as a reaction - thereby having the adversary likely fail.

Their character can then still counterattack in the same turn: then the adversary gets the slight disadvantage of being the defender in an (QS p.14, QS p.23) Opposed Melee Test.