The questions and reasoning on few unobvious mechanics

Hello everyone!

Ricently I’ve bought the Dune: Adventures in the Imperium corebook and play some with my friends. After playing there is a few questions left and I’ve been looking for an answers through this forum but feel not compleatly satisfied with what I found and especially with what I didn’t. That is why I decided to create this topic and I’m hoping to find the answers with the help of wise people here.

Herebelow is the short list of the topics of questions I have for the community and game designers. More details, extended questions and my opinion is presented later.

  1. Test and momentum point spending for creating a trait or an asset.

  2. Additional actions for Determination points alongside with ‘Keeping the Initiative’ during conflict.

  3. Drive statements problem.

First and second topics are more likely pure mechanic ones and caused by my personal misunderstanding or not precisions enough description in the corebook. Third one is more about decisions within players groups I guess and have a lot to discuss. I will describe the questions completely in the numbered lists below and after every item put some of my ponders regarding the question. Let me start.

  1. While reading corebook I’ve found two ways of adding trait/asset to the game: spending momentum points and making a difficulty 2 test during conflict. My first thought was that player can create trait/asset for the momentum points after the successful test while he/she is not in conflict and player have to make a special test (performing an action) while in conflict. Then I got confused by the example in the corebook which states that: Kara’s player spends Momentum and makes a test to create a new intangible asset of ‘security access’ while rules states that: If you wish to create a trait, describe the sort of effect you want, and how you wish to create it. Then, attempt a skill test with a Difficulty of 2. If you pass, then you’ve managed to create the desired trait., which means that only thing you have to do is to make a test. While searching for clarification on this queston I found this topic where Andy says that indeed player in conflict have to spend momentum and make a test in order to create trait/asset. Okay then, but I do require some clarification: while in conflict, does that test generate momentum as any other test? And if it does, can player use this new generated momentum for the porpuses of creating trait/asset? Can player do so if before making a test there was not enough momentum points but he/she hopes to generate missed ones? My point is to understand is player able to attempt to create trait/asset with no momentum availible or not. And one more: if player have two points of momentum in pool, than taking action to create a trait, make a difficulty 2 test, rolls 4 successes, therefore generates two more points of momentum, can he/she create a trait for that two new points? In more general case: can player create trait/asset after successful tests during combat or it is restricted due to pressure of combat under which player’s character are?

I think that is important due to how much careful players should be with their resourses especially if creating trait/asset requiers momentum points everytime. Next lines is my discussions on gameplay taken into account that creating trait/asset during conflict requiers momentum poitns. I understand that this game is about the resources managment, but we did play last time such that players didn’t spent momentum points to create trait during conflict and the result was really interesting, tug of war in somesort. Situation was as follows:

Three players interrogate three technichiant to find out whether a spy among them and who if is. They were creating different traits such as ‘Calm environment’ on order to be able to spot the nervous spy and so one. The spy (which was of course among that three technichiant) on his turns was trying to create such traits that cover him and makes players suspect other guy. After a few rounds players make sure that they have an advantage and attempting an ‘attak’ to reveal the spy. That was an extended task with the requirement of discipline of the spy.

Now I’m thinking about what would be if players had to spend momentum to ctreate traits. From one hand, I see how free players were when they hadn’t spend momentum, that allows them not to limit they imagination. From the other hand, I now see that it could become infinite tug of war of creating traits from either side. Moreover, lacking of momentum points pushes players to make other actions which can help them build the momentum pool (as it described in this example of using dueling rules but still there is no specification on does player or GM spend momentum/threat to create trait/asset). From that point of view I rather agree with Andy and apply mandatory spending of momentum points to my games. By the way: shoud the players spend momentum to remove trait as action in conflict? I suppouse they should, as well as GM should spend threat, if points are spended to create traits, right?

  1. This one is short. I didn’t find any topic about that, if it is exist - I’m sorry. Let’s start with this: corebook states that one of the possibility to spend determination point is In a conflict, immediately take an additional action after this one, even if you have already kept the initiative.. At the same time in the conflict chapter corebook states: If they Keep the Initiative, then that character may take an extra action immediately, adding +1 Difficulty to any test they attempt.... The question is: if player kept initiative first (+1 difficulty applyes for all his/her tests) and then use determination point to make an additional action, will that +1 difficulty penalty be applyed for his/her tests during this additional action?

While our play, when player use determination point for an additional action after he kept an initiative, I allowed him to make tests without that penalty (for the tests in action for Keeping the Initiative I did apply penalty). My point was that determination point is like character’s ultimative ability, one of the thing that makes them heroes of the story and, therefore, benefits from spending determination should also be ultimative, espesially taken into account how limited determination ponts are (well, it could be not with combination of luck and Driven talent though. One of my players regained determination point for 3 times during one session, lol)

  1. Well, this one is difficult since the drive problem is the most abstract in the whole game as to me. First of all, let me put it next way: drive’s statement could agree, disagree or be neutral towards player’s character action. Let me denote agreement as ‘+’, disagreement as ‘-’ and neutrality as ‘0’.
    What I want to make clear: should I allow players use the drive with the statement if latter is ‘0’ to the action? The point is that: should drives with the statements be used only if statements ‘+’ or ‘-’ towards the action (in latter case the player must choose whether to comply or to challange the drive)? Here, actually, we came to the more global question/problem regarding drive’s statements: how to determine whether statement ‘+’, ‘-’ or ‘0’ to the action? I found this topic regarding question, where Andy also advised to use ‘default’ drives in the adventures, which can help, probably, but do not fully solve the problem.

I understand that the question is general in the same way as it depends on circumstances. It states in the corebook that players would probably trying to always use the drive with the highest value and I understand that. From the other hand, me, as GM, shouldn’t restrict them much in choosing the drives, I suppose. Biggest trouble was when the statements are so general, that player can always state that statement is ‘+’ or at least ‘0’ to the action. For example, one of my players have the Duty’s statement as ‘I serve for the good of my noble house’. Well, when this statement can be ‘-’ to the action? I would say, that only if character trying do something that harms his house. In every other situation statement will be at least ‘0’ and, if I should allow using drives with ‘0’ statements, player will almost always be able to use Duty as his/her drive.
At the end of the our last session I’ve manage to convince player that his Duty drive statement is ‘-’ to the action with the following argument: ‘As it is surprise battle for your character, your first motive is to survive. You have no time to think that you are valuable asset of your house and your survivng means something for your duke.’ (why it doesn’t mean that statement is ‘0’ to action? I don’t really know already). Don’t get me wrong, I am not struggling with my players, we all saw that problem with statements and was trying to find a solution. My players even says that they wish to change thier statements already and player in the example above decided to challenge drive in order to change statements or even drives.
Speking of the solution. In the example with the Duty statement one can say that I, as GM, should put player in the situation when he need to choose whether to harm House or left without some profit for himself or even get himself harmed. I would agree with that, I even prepare new adventure when the Guild trying to use player’s character as he is Guild Agent creating the possibility of conflict. Anyway I don’t think that it is the only solution. I think that creating statements should also be considered. Maybe statements should be more like moral restrictions of the character. For example, if Duty statement ‘I serve for the good of my noble house’ change to something like ‘I would never allow to harm my noble house’, that probably can make easer to justify is it ‘+’ to the action (dealing with direct threat to the house, its resourses or people) or not. As to me, in this example difference between ‘+’ and ‘0’ become more clear that allows better uderstanding of possibility of using determination points. Anyway there is is still a big field for different interpretations.

This last flow of my thoughts can be not structured, I’m sorry. As I say, that is big topic as to me. I hope the reader understand my problem with the drive statements in Dune: Adventures in the Imperium.

That is all, fellows. Rereading this I understand that it is more like discussion than simple questions and hope that you will understand my concerns and join the discussion.

P.S. I do apologise for typos (if any) and my english as I’m not native to the language.

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Some thughts about your questions : the extra action can be added even if the player keeps the initative, potientially giving him three actions in row befor the ennemi acts (though at a penalty)

On hte ‘i always do what’s good for the house’, i’d put it as a negative even when pretending to go against his House - like any good fanatic devotee, even pretending to go against the House is something he’s not comfortabel with. It can also hamper him when the opposition shades their manoeuvers as being for the good of the House - though th second he figures out he’s being played that reverses

Hopefully I can help you out on those -

1 - There are two schools of thought on that one. I tend to allow every roll to generate momentum as every roll might potentially have momentum spent on it. But it is reasonable for the GM to declare rolls that are to gain something are their own reward, and only tests to perform actions should generate momentum.
As to the second point, yes and no. You can use generated momentum to create new assets. After all its up to you what you spend it on no matter what you do.
But, I’d also rule that creating an asset is the action you take that round, so you would have to wait for the next round to gain another asset. There is leeway here as the GM may allow you to create an asset and then use it in a test (‘I pick up a knife from the floor and lunge at him’) But I’d certainly assume no one has time to create two in the same round.

2 - If you keep the initiative you have to pass it over on the next round. So you’d never spend the Determination or momentum to keep it twice in a row. If the GM does allow it (and its ok to rule that) then the penalty would occur when that method is used to keep the initiative and remain until the end of the action sequence. Using Determination wouldn’t add to that as it gains no further penalty. But it also shouldn’t negate that. So best to use Determination first to get a non-penalized bonus and then use other methods.

3 - To help this one I should explain the thinking behind drives and statements.
Your characters has three big ‘values/ideas’ that drive most of their actions. These are the statements, which happen to apply to three particular drives. The other drives are not that important, just ‘everything else’ that might drive the character, and arn’t really very important.
Statements really detail how you can use determination as only for actions you truly believe it can you push yourself to your best. So when a drive statement fits an action you are running on all cylinders.
If none of the three statements really fit, you don’t really care enough to use anything but your lower drives.
In all cases it is up to the player to rationalise how the drives are driving their actions based on the actions they choose to do and the statements they have picked. So when they say ‘why would my character think that?’ the answer is ‘You tell me, you picked those drives/statements’.

To make things easier (and I run it this way in demos for simplicity) the player can pick any drive for any action to explain what is motivating them. Then if the statement applies they can spend a determination on the roll if they like.

Remember that you can come at drives from two directions, depending on what the player is more comfortable with. Some like to look at statements to figure out the right drive, others like to look at the actual drives first and see if the statement fits. Either is fine.

If during play the player discovers their statements don’t work or don’t suit how they want to play their character, then they can challenge them and change them to something more suitable.

Otherwise the answer to your + - 0 question should be found in the choosing drives sidebar on p 147


Thank you for your answer!

The Dune 2d20 system seems to be very flexible, I used to D&D mostly, where it’s all about the numbers, maybe that’s why Dune is hard for me.

Anyway, I’ll try to experiment with momentum generation and trait/asset creation during conflict.

Applying penalty at additional action for spending determination point after keeping the initiative seems to be reasonable, thanks.

Well, when you saying that:

does this mean that to use drives with statements only possible when action strongly agrees (to spend determination) or disagrees (to gain determination) with statement, is an option to play? I think, answer to that question applies to any direction one can come at drives. And yea, page 147 can help, though.

In any case, the reason I want to make this question clear is that I really like the idea of drives as gameplay mechanic. It’s brings moral choice and character’s personality development from purly narrative plane to the gameplay one, mixing that two planes together.

Thank you again for the answer.

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Thank you!

Good example you have there, even inspires for an adventure with undercover work theme!

And it’s probably about that player and GM should only consider the direct action while deciding on it’s agreement with the statement. What I mean is the following: if character performs an action A, wich would lead to the consequense B, which would lead to the consequence C… and so on, which in the end leads to the benefit of his house, players should consider only action A when deciding on agreement with the statement, no matter any consequenses B, C, … . Is that something you mean?

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The statements should be broad enough to allow some leeway. So generally if the player thinks its roughly appropriate and no one thinks it is actually disagreeing with the statement, you can use it. If nothing really applies at all, use one of the two lower ones.

But, if its proving confusing, I’d suggest just picking any drive as you feel is appropriate to the situation and attitude. Then look and see if it has a statement, and if that statement is appropriate to allow a Determination spend.

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Great thanks! We’ll try this way.

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