2d20 mod part 3, combat and meta currency

Differences between the version part 2, Combat, weapons and meta currencies

Combat is pretty similar in all versions. Roll to attack and defend. If the attacker wins, deal damage and spend momentum. 

The differences fall under the following areas:

  • Hit locations and Armor
  • Combat dice
  • Weapon ratings
  • Health
  • Momentum spends
  • Other meta currencies

Hit Locations, Armor and Health

VariantHit locationsArmourHealthDeath?
MC3Yes, 6By Hit locationStress in each location, wounds, serious wounds and Mental woundsMax wounds
InfinityYes, 6By Hit location, and Mental/Tech single armorPhysical, Mental and FirewallStress and Harms5 harms
ConanYes, 6By Hit locationPhysical and MentalStress and Harms5 harms
JCOMNoConfusion, Fear, Injury Stress and Harms5 harms
Star TrekNoArmor provides Resistance which soaks stress Stress boxes and Injuries2 Lethal Injuries
DishonoredNoYes, gives Protection that adds to stress trackStress BoxesAt Max stress
DuneNoYes, As an AssetNoneCan be Defeated
A!CNoYesStress boxes and Injury boxes3 injuries = defeated and can by dying

So as with characters, the original 3 games have commonality and then there are lots of changes. Infinity and conan did away with separate damage for each hit location and added the rules for stress and harms which continued into JCOM. Star Trek simplified this further, because it’s less combat focused and A!C seems to be closest to this. In all these versions armor works as a soak for damage. Dishonored has no injuries or harm and armor adds to stress, but weapons also deal less damage (see later). Dune works completely differently, and is much more narratively focused. 

Combat dice and weapon ratings

This is the first time we see a major difference between Infinity and Conan. In Infinity and MC3 the combat dice were marked [1][2][ ][ ][ ][effect], so only 1 effect and 3 blanks, from Conan all games that use combat dice have [1][2][ ][ ][effect][effect]. Weapon damages also changed. Infinity and MC3 tend to have fixed damage and dice, Conan onwards often just have dice as seen on the table below

VariantCombat diceSmall meleeKnifeLarger meleeSwordLight RangedBowPistolHeavy Ranged
Star TrekNew1cd2-3cd2-3cd4cd
DishonoredNo24Crossbow 3Pistol 4Rifle 5

MC3,Conan and Infinity also grant bonus damage based on high attributes. Personally I prefer the Infinity and MC3 numbers. Half the dice give nothing and effects are hard to come by but you always do some damage. In the new systems it is possible to roll no damage. On the flip side, the newer dice have more effects and effects are fun. It’s also easier to get hold of the newer dice. I have a tonne of MC3 dice i managed to buy in bulk but own no infinity dice. (I also have no conan dice, but got lots of JCOM dice to make up for it). Dune doesn’t even have damage due to it’s system and Dishonored has fixed damages, not using combat dice at all. 

Momentum Spends

Momentum is a key concept in 2d20 but doesn’t work entirely consistently. In MC3 I struggled to actually work out the basic momentum rules! The main use of momentum is to add to how many dice you roll. In Infinity, conanand JCOM this is a 1-1 spend. In some other versions; Star Trek, Dishonored, Dune and A!C this is a ramping cost; 1st dice costs 1, 2nd dice costs 2, 3rd dice costs 3. Some game make other mentions of momentum spends beyond combat and talents such as “create obstacle”, “Improve quality of success”, “Increase scope of success” and “Reduce Time required”. MC3, Infinity, Conan, JCOM x mention these. Conan, JCOM, Star Trek also adds “obtain information”. They are a bit vague in the rules but are referred to more in adventures where gaining momentum on a roll lets you improve the outcomes of conversations or hacking for example. Dishonored calls these “create truth” and “ask a question”. Truths are almost like aspects in Fate, or tags in other games, making dishonored more narrative. Dune has Traits and assets, which are similar. JCOM doesn’t have complex combat momentum spends, so added one combat use to the basic uses. A!C isn’t detailed on it’s rules as we only have the quickstart, but it uses the 1/2/3 cost spend, and also mentions truths which work as bonuses or complications. Most systems tend to stick to a group pool of six and momentum depletion at the end of scenes or combat rounds.

VariantExtra dice?Other non combat uses?Group pool?Pool depletion?Tags
Star Trek1/2/3yes6yes
Dune1/2/3yes6yesTraits, Assets

So we can see overtime the cost of spending momentum has shifted, making the game more difficult, and the game has become more narrative, adding “truths”.

In Combat most game will allow momentum to do extra damage and some allow further options. Infinity also has extra spends for its various other subsystems (infowar and psywar). MC3 and Infinity with their different damage dice allow momentum to increase damage, all the other variants add dice. Dishonoured and Dune do not use the dice so have a lot less combat spends.

VariantExtra DamageExtra actionAdditional targetNumber of other options
MC31 damageyesyes11
Infinity1 damageyesyes11
Conan1 diceyesyes10
JCOM1 dicenoCan dispatch minions 1-13
Star Trek1 DiceyesCost 27
Dishonorednonono1 – counter-attack
A!C1 DicenoCost 24

Other Meta-Currency

There are normally two other types of meta currency, good and bad. The bad meta currency; Doom, Threat, Heat; works as a mirror to momentum and allows GM to spend points on causing problems and generating more bad guys. The Good meta currency normally allows an extra die set to a 1 which will normally count as 2 successes (depending on the focus rules) and can also be used to avoid damage and death. Other uses of the “good point” involve re-rolls and changing scene details.

VariantGood nameAdd 1s?Extra action?Reduce damage / Heal/ avoid death?Other uses
MC3Chronicle pointsyesyesRecover wounds2
InfinityInfinity pointsyesyesRecover stress3
ConanFortuneyesyesRecover stress2
JCOMLuckyesyesRemove all stress2
Star TrekDeterminationyesyesno2
A!CFortuneyesyesAvoid defeat2
VariantBad nameUse as momentum to add diceGM spend as momentum?GM spend for hazardsGM spend for extra NPCsOther GM spends
MC3Dark symmetryyesnoyesyesYes, lots
Star TrekThreatyesyesyesyesyes
DishonoredChaosyesyesSort ofnoyes

Further Differences in combat

The main differences in combat come from the way momentum and combat dice work. In this 6 of the variants are pretty much the same, although Infinity has two extra types of combat and Conan has rules for “Displays of might and power”. JCOM is also generally more simple in how it is presented. Dishonoured however is incredibly simple, treating combat as an opposed roll that deals damage as successful with no real detail of actions or anything. Dune splits conflict into different areas; duels, skirmishes, intrigue and espionage. Each have their own sections for maneuvers, zones, actions and assets.

Thoughts on momentum

I would like to know why the momentum and threat spends for dice changed from 1-1 to the 1/2/3 cost. Possibly this is due to getting double successes being harder in Conan, Infinity and MC3, and easier in Star Trek onwards. But JCOM is really easy to get double successes and also has the 1-1 spend. I guess if NPCs spend threat the same way, it’s less of an issue.

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