Many skill uses are too intricate or significant to resolve with a single check, such as disarming a bomb, devising or cracking a code. Likewise, many opposed skill uses deserve the royal treatment, and this is where “Dramatic Conflicts” come into play.
A Dramatic Conflict is an intense contest between two or more individuals. It could be a test of wills (brainwashing, for instance, or an interrogation) or a physical competition (a chase), a game of instinct and wits (an infiltration or manhunt) or a battle of the mind (hacking). It could even be a matter of the heart (a seduction). In all cases, a Dramatic Conflict pits two or more sides against one another in a momentous struggle that unfolds like a great story, with exhilarating highs and lows, unexpected twists and turns, and eventually, a grand finale that reveals the ultimate victor.
A Dramatic Conflict looks a lot like a Complex Task, but operates quite differently. Challenges are replaced with Conflict rounds and Lead. During each Conflict round, one participant — the Predator — tries to reduce the Lead to 0, while his opponent — the Prey — tries to raise the Lead to 10 or more. Throughout, these participants choose Strategies, trying to outwit each other and seize the advantage. Strategies and Lead change over the course of every Dramatic Conflict.
Running a Dramatic ConflictEdit
The first thing to do in every Dramatic Conflict is determine Lead. This is handled differently for each type of Conflict, as noted in each description.
Conflict rounds commence thereafter, each taking an amount of time noted in the appropriate Conflict description and consisting of the following steps.
Step 1: Choose StrategiesEdit
Each participant secretly chooses 1 Strategy he wishes to attempt (but does not immediately reveal it). Most Strategies feature requirements that must be met before they can be chosen — usually a current Lead range or minimum Power Rating the participant must possess.
During this step, the GC should ask whether any participants want to use abilities or other character options (many options affect a Dramatic Conflict after Strategies are chosen but before they’re revealed).
Step 2: Opposed Skill CheckEdit
The participants reveal their Strategies simultaneously and make an opposed skill check as noted in the appropriate Conflict description. Most of the time, a character’s chosen Strategy applies a modifier to his skill check.
If an opposed check winner scores a critical success, the Lead shifts by 1 in his favor. By the same token, if an opposed check loser suffers a critical failure, the Lead shifts by 1 in his opponent’s favor.
During a Dramatic Conflict, critical successes and critical failures only affect Lead and modify Conflict conditions as noted in each Conflict description; the standard effects of these skill check results are ignored. Further, errors and threats have no effect during a Dramatic Conflict outside the modifications noted in each Conflict description.
Step 3: ResolutionEdit
The opposed skill check’s winner may choose 1 Advantage listed with his Strategy, plus 1 additional Advantage listed with his Strategy per 4 by which he wins the check. Each Advantage grants a benefit, usually one that becomes more impressive each time it’s chosen during the same Conflict round.
If the Lead is 0 or lower after the Advantage benefit is applied, the Predator wins. Conversely, if the Lead is 10 or higher after the Advantage benefit is applied, the Prey wins. The effects of each outcome are included in each Conflict description.
If the Lead is 1 to 9, the Conflict continues to Step 4, and thereafter, to a new conflict round.
Special Note: A participant may never “back out” after choosing a Strategy. He may concede, allowing his opponent to apply the Predator or Prey Victory result (but not both).
Step 4: Outside ActionsEdit
The participants and other nearby or involved characters may take 1 or more actions, as noted in the appropriate Conflict description. These actions represent brief opportunities during each Conflict round when drivers and passengers can attack opponents, interrogators can compare notes or consult reference materials, hackers can communicate with other members of their team, and so on.
Dramatic Conflict ListEdit
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