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Timing and Focus

Source Pathfinder Unchained pg. 97
Nearly every adventure has the potential for moral conflicts, but you should be careful not to spring them on your players too often; otherwise you risk creating conflict fatigue or lessening the dramatic impact. While moral conflict can be a fun and thought-provoking part of a campaign, remember that some players like to focus on more concrete aspects of the game, and the best sessions often feature a diverse selection of moral, strategic, and tactical challenges. Moral challenges are often nuanced, and moral dilemmas can be frustrating with their “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” nature. Both can be just as stressful as a challenging battle, and can ramp up tensions at the table—for better or worse.

In addition, oversaturating a game with moral challenges and dilemmas may have the unwanted effect of cheapening them. Try to think of these conflicts as something akin to the classic “boss fight” in a combat-oriented game: a momentous occasion of great struggle, as opposed to the more common nuisance of a trap, which can be foiled quickly once the mechanism is understood. Consider limiting these types of challenges to once per character level, at most. Some groups may thirst for more, and you should give them what they want, but once per level is a good place to start.

While it may be fun to constantly challenge strongly aligned individuals, try to create moral challenges that the whole group can participate in. In these situations, characters will act as individuals and put forward many points of view and desired actions. This inter-character strife is often enough to create the framework for spin-off moral challenges, and give individuals the opportunity for alignment shifts and affirmations through interactions with other party members. Be ready to assimilate such spontaneous moral challenges and gauge them as appropriate. Even more so than the moral challenges you design into your campaign, these interactions can be visceral and fulfilling to players because they come from natural character interaction.