I was thinking that the main differences between negotiation and subterfuge are the targets, and the ulterior motive. The consequences of success are generally the same, I’m thinking, and I have Burn Notice to thank for showing me that. When you contact a local ruler to advise him to build a road or establish an outpost, the obvious goal is to build a road or establish an outpost.

Negotiation or Subterfuge is the why of it. Do you have the local ruler build a road in one direction to prevent them from building it another way? Maybe you convince them to establish an outpost somewhere so they’re forced to build more roads before they can expand further. Maybe you trick them into trading away valuable resources.

The what is the same either way. Build a road, establish an outpost. Trade resources. You might even use different Skills in the process (Bluff instead of Diplomacy), but the what remains the same. Build a road, establish an outpost. Now, I’m thinking that the consequences for failure should also be different. Not death, maybe a burn?

Here, I was thinking the Ostracism condition might be appropriate again. Let’s say that each failure during a Subterfuge Challenge exposes the “spying” characters to Ostracism, in addition to any normal threats? Maybe the same should be true of Negotiation Challenges, for similar reasons? They are social maladies, after all.

Actually, while thinking about this, I came up with a really easy way to recover from Ostracism and also encourage camping out: Ostracism and Isolation serve as direct opposites of one another. Resting in town “heals” Isolation while exposing you to Ostracism, while resting in the wild “heals” Ostracism, and exposes you to Isolation.

I’m sure there are some actions that might be exclusive to Negotiation, and some actions that might be exclusive to Subterfuge, but the main points of each are the same. Build roads, establish outposts. Trade resources. I’m thinking at this point players should be unable to directly influence the destruction of locations.

Let’s say, that instead of making things “easy” and enabling players to direct raids of one side against another, they must instead manipulate the political climate so that when the inevitable invasion comes, the sides they prefer are spared, while the sides they prefer not survive are washed away in the tide of violence.

Then it’s a matter of choosing sides, is it not? Make sure your side is stronger, and line things up so that when the invasion comes, your side is still standing.