Hmm, I don't see pass/fail as a fall back at all, so we probably have different interpretations of the intent of the system.
Sure, I see the advice "pick the resistance and justify it" as the main rule, and everything else stemming from that, but the whole cycle concept is advice on how to inform that choice. But then, I am the kind of cynic that reads the disclaimer at the beginning of the Assigning Resistances section and thinks to myself "sure most people think they have good creative instincts but how many actually do".
My only concern at this stage is to play by the specifically intended letter of the rules, and also to test drive the pass/fail cycle instead of relying purely on my own creative instincts (good or bad).
The advice on Extended Contests only refers to changing abilities, but as I am currently picking abilities (or at least current situation modified abilities) as informed by the current pass/fail situation then it is not clear if reassigning a resistance based on the High/Moderate/Low/etc. scale in the middle of a contest is something that would be appropriate in this situation. It felt wrong to me when I did it but I don't want to ditch a possible intent of the rules at the first hurdle as that can often lead to problems down the line.
There seems to me to be two possible answers, either an extended contest is effectively a simple contest with multiple rolls and a chance for the player to change abilities in an attempt to gain favourable modifiers to the already established resistance, or it is a spread out sequence of conflicts which themselves can be informed by the pass fail cycle. I found myself drifting towards the latter but I suspect the former is more likely to be intended and may actually be more appropriate.
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