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Gauging Success

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 171
While designing the challenges and goals of a social conflict, you’ll need to decide the means by which you’ll measure the PCs’ success. Listed below are three different ways to gauge success in social conflict events. Regardless of which means you use to gauge success, you will also need to determine how many successes the PCs must accumulate to achieve their overall goals.

Contest Against Competitors: Perhaps a rival faction opposes the PCs’ agenda in the social conflict. In this type of event, the PCs work to best these other factions. The PCs must either damage the reputations of their rivals in order to take them out of the running, or they must find some other way to keep those adversaries from being obstacles to their goals, such as by forming a coalition against an even more dangerous opposing faction. Contests against competitors can be highly satisfying because of the human element of the opposition, but they can also make the social conflict significantly more difficult to run, particularly if there are numerous factions. In such contests, you may need to determine the stakes and tenacity of multiple factions, and how many successes will drive each faction out of the running. These numbers should match the scope and pacing you chose for the social conflict. A fastpaced serialized conflict or one expected to last over a longer term calls for higher target numbers, as there are more opportunities to gain successes, while the reverse is true for slower, episodic pacing or shorter-term story arcs.

Goal Collection: In this type of event, overall success is assured as long as the PCs can achieve a benchmark number of goals. However, before that occurs, the characters must deal with adverse conditions that can be removed only by succeeding at the social conflict.

Race Against Time: In this type of event, the PCs must race to achieve as many goals as possible before a certain amount of time elapses. A time limit makes an event more exciting for the players. Make the reason for the time limit something interesting to the PCs and the developing story. The in-game reason for the time limit could be anything from an upcoming election, to an impending invasion, to the public’s waning interest in the issue at the heart of the PCs’ goals. When determining overall goals in a timesensitive conflict, you may wish to set multiple thresholds of victory, ordering possible outcomes from best to worst and listing a minimum number of successes for each successively better outcome.