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So in our Polaris games we have two recurring problem with conflict statements. This is one of them. Sometimes people want to make statements that are really long and their opponent feels that such a lengthy statement is unfair because it imposes multiple conditions on them. For example:

Heart: Arcturus dashes between the impending blade and his love, and with a cry of defiance shatters the demon's weapon with his own.

Mistaken: But only if the shards fall around him like a dark rain, and in the myriad reflected shadows the true face of the woman behind him is revealed-- her mouth eternally open in a scream of agony and the wretched flesh of your lover draped around her demonically beautiful form.

With this statement the Mistaken is establishing not only that Arcturus has been deceived, but also that his lover is (hopefully) dead and that the true identity of his current companion is Eztlitotec the Princess of Spring. Most of the players I've played with are fine with that, as long as the phrasing is cool, but some of the players object to it on the grounds that the statement is too long/contains multiple clauses/involves multiple changes to the story.

How long are open-ended conflict statements (But only if and And furthermore) allowed to be? How many clauses are they allowed to contain?

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They can be as long and convoluted as people want. The game has built-in controls for overreaching with BUT ONLY IF… and AND FURTHERMORE:

  • If you have an appropriate Theme to burn, you can respond with YOU ASK TOO MUCH, and they must revise their statement to be of smaller or different scope (confirmed by the Moons).

  • If you are willing to risk going to the dice (which, it notes, is riskier earlier and better later in the story) and be bound by the result, you can respond IT SHALL NOT COME TO PASS. Then you go to the dice to find out whether the statement stands or is negated.

  • Finally, you can respond to an unacceptable BUT ONLY IF… with IT WAS NOT MEANT TO BE. The result is that the last two preceding statements (one of theirs and one of yours) are negated and the conflict ends however the remaining statements established.

Remember that conflict in Polaris is a formalised negotiation. If you don't like the terms offered, reject them! If people are not willing to push back on unacceptable statements, then that sets the bar: these convoluted statements are kosher. They are only going to be recognised as risky statements to offer if people who don't like them start rejecting them, since otherwise they are signalling acceptance.

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SevenSidedDie is basically correct, but, one other point: if all the other players roll their eyes at the statement, then you should retract it and do another one. This goes both for asking for lengthy or convoluted things, like you posted, and also for things that are tone breaking or patently ridiculous (but only if you do the hokey pokey and shake it all about.)

So, basically, it's a group style thing.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Ben, the comments I left on your other answer apply here too - this should be a comprehensive answer to the question. This is because we're a Q&A site, rather than any kind of discussion forum (I see from your informed badge you've seen our tour, so thanks), so inter-post discussion doesn't really exist. We need answers to genuinely be comprehensive answers. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 17 '15 at 1:57

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