Faction goals?

Are the goals assigned to each faction in the book their beginning goals they can immediately attempt or or end game goals they have to build up to?

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They’re meant to be goals the faction has at the start of play and can immediately attempt to advance.

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The Ashen Knives goal seems pretty big and not something they can try off the bat. They want to control all planetary crime but isn’t that pretty massive? Like I can’t get taking out some of the smaller factions the Drynik gang but the scarlet wolves exist and are higher tier. That doesn’t seem feasible for them. Am I missing something?

Well, it says “major” planetary crimes, but also: how large are the Ashen Knives? It says that they’re “known for their control of gambling and assassination in the sector” and that “the Ashen Knives’ power on Warren often eclipses that of House Malklaith”, so they’re a big deal! Tier 3 just means any specific group of them you encounter isn’t going to be Darth McCyber Assassin, but just well-off crimespeople.

Also IMO it’s a matter of perspective: it’s Star Wars rules, everything is smaller and more personal than might be realistic, and what’s seen on the screen is all that matters. If you get captured by the Hutt cartel, of COURSE it’s Jabba that did it, because they’re the named NPC.
If the Knives are in control of everything, that might not be literally true, but it’s what the players will experience.

And make sure you only advance clocks that are relevant to the players! (which includes yourself ofc)
If it won’t matter for the story we’re seeing, skip it. I tend to have 2-5 factions running depending on whether a plot has developed yet or not. I cut away the factions I don’t have time to show on screen because clearly they weren’t interesting enough. Maybe they’ll come back later.

well what about the Maelstrom? They want to seize a jumgate without incurring the wrath of the Hegomony. This seems really big? Like would take at least a few clocks.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s your game, and that these are suggestions to drive the action and get you out there playing. If you don’t like the goals, change them! You can break it into parts like you might do for a bigger undertaking: okay, first they need to get an untraceable ship, then they need to create a distraction, etc. It’s all up to you as the GM.

Keep in mind that you’re running all the factions, and that the players have the chance to mess with those actions as well. So if your band of scoundrels notices that the Maelstrom is trying to take over a gate, they could plan a job to blow up their untraceable ship, which might wreck all their progress and force them to start a new clock.

Really, the faction clocks are there to remind you to think about what the other factions are doing and to make sure the setting remains dynamic, so as long as you’re doing that you’re going fine. The rest is just details.