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All Rules in Social Conflicts

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Event Consequences

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 170
Whether you’re running a discovery or a challenge event, you should strive to make the consequences of both success and failure dependent on how the PCs solved the challenge. While some challenge events or straightforward discovery events may have direct and obvious consequences, more complex challenge can result in degrees of success or failure.

If the PCs overcome a challenge, they may experience either a success or a critical success. Winning the verbal duel that is the focus of a challenge event might be a success, but you can also add contingencies to define what constitutes a critical success. If the PC who engaged in the duel won, and her allies were able to seed all the biases in her favor, that might be a critical success. For instance, if a PC verbally duels one of the politicians fighting against halfling suffrage in a public debate, a critical success might mean the politician not only throws in with the halflings’ cause, but also changes public opinion of the debate in a crucial way, which could lower the DC of challenges made against those the PCs attempt to sway in the future.

On the other hand, failure might mean a temporary setback when it comes to attaining the stakes, whereas a critical failure would signify a dramatic loss that could be a detriment to the PCs well into the future. Taking the same example as above, if the PCs fail to sway the politician and the crowd in a verbal duel about halfling suffrage, that could simply mean heroes must sway another politician to champion the halfling cause. But if the politician soundly defeats the debating PC, that could mean she automatically sways another politician or two away from the PCs’ side, causing the PCs to take a penalty on checks involving other politicians,. This would be a critical failure for the PCs.

Finessing Event Consequences

While most of this section offers tools and suggestions to help GMs create their own social conflict events, the PCs might be able to take an event in a completely unexpected direction, unlike in combat encounters where the actions and consequences are more rigorously determined. Interesting uses of skills, feats, spells, and magic items, not to mention inspired roleplaying, can often create circumstances you never imagined. When this happens, it’s better to reward players for their ingenuity instead of discouraging it.