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adding relationship dice

 
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azrianni
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 8:52 am    Post subject: adding relationship dice Reply with quote

This idea is partially inspired by Smallville, a pretty cool game in its own right.

Player characters and major Wildcard NPCs can also have relationships which are rated in dice like everything else. A relationship potentially applies to a roll if you're trying to directly help or hurt the related person. So if you have a relationship with your enemy and are in a duel with her, yes. If you're trying to pick a lock to get your boyfriend out of prison, yes. If you're trying to pick a pocket to get some money which you might use to take your boyfriend on a date, no.

If the relationship applies, you can spend a benny to roll your relationship die along with the trait die and the wild die. As usual, best single die counts, but
* any 1 rolled indicates some kind of complication or glitch (assuming the GM can come up with something appropriate); this doesn't negate success, just makes the character's life more interesting
* any pair of 1s rolled is a critical failure, regardless of the third die's result
* a triple 1 is a catastrophic failure: basically, the GM can hose you without limit, as long as your character is still alive at the end

Naturally you can still use additional bennies to reroll all three dice, and the player gets to pick which roll is "best" if it's not obvious (such as getting a raise but a complication versus a success with no complication).

For the record, when I run this, the "any 1 is a potential complication" will apply to all rolls, not just those with relationships involved.

My thought is to allow everybody d4 relationships with the other PCs for free, along with a couple of d4 relationships for NPCs to start. Take 2 levels of advancement during character creation, or use skill points from hindrances if you want more. You can set the dice levels without specifying the relationship if you want, waiting until play to see who you want to attach that d8 relationship to.

My questions:
* Whaddya think, sirs?
* I assume the benny to activate is reasonable (yes?), however
* Should it be one benny per use, or once a relationship is brought in, should I allow it to continue to be used for that whole combat or chase or mass battle sequence?
* Does that initial distribution of relationships seem reasonable? A d4 relationship isn't that valuable: you've got a better chance of getting a complication than of the d4 being your best die, and it costs a benny to use it. (I even thought about saying that you can add a d4 relationship for free any time, maybe with just a limit on the total number of relationships you can have.)
* How much can you improve relationships with an advance? 1 level? 2 levels?

Thanks for all your thoughts.
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Snate56
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Makes things more complicated, but it sounds like a fun complication!

If I instigated this, I don't know if I would charge a Benny or not. After all, opting out of the task itself is the player's choice and being forced to use the dice, whether they like it or not, would reflect a real conflict of interest.
It's why cops are pulled off a case because a family member was killed.

Of course, this all might be too much, when you can just add an Adventure Card or two.

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Rachan
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are three reasons I think this is a terrible idea.



On a character level:

This is what "roleplaying" is supposed to be about. Relationships between characters are not something you can categorize or quantify; they're entirely dependent on what the PLAYERS think, and that can change on a whim.

So the party leader's ex-girlfriend draws more ire than the criminal mastermind they're after because he spent dice on her at character creation, and has no dice left for the villain? Making it a rule actually RULES OUT brotherhood, loyalty, betrayal, falling in love, etc. It strictures you into playing one narrow set of emotions, and emotions don't work like that, even for fictional characters. What if someone changes their mind about their "relationship?" Girlfriend betrays you, villain turns out to be simply misunderstood, or two characters just grow apart? What happens to the dice?


On a story level:

Why should a character have a better chance of success on something just because they really, REALLY want to? You're not more "able" to pull your girlfriend up over a ledge than you are anyone else of the same size. You might WANT it more, and might TRY harder, but that's what bennies are for -- trying harder.

Not only that, but you're completely ruining dramatic tension. A scene is tense and exciting BECAUSE the task is difficult and BECAUSE the character really wants to succeed. If you take one of these away, it's just another boring dice roll, and giving out "girlfriend" bonuses does exactly that. You've just turned your main villain into another two-shot mook. Whoop-ti-do.



On a Real Life level:

This is the part that genuinely ticks me off. The whole idea of catagorizing and quantifying relationships, even in a roleplaying game, is really indicative of people's attitudes toward other people in general. It's objectifying.

People are not objects, and neither are your relationships with them. These days everyone seems to treat friends like Pokemon cards -- you gotta catch 'em all, every last one, but if someone ticks you off, you chuck that card in the garbage ... you'll probably get another one in the next booster pack anyway. But I challenge anyone here to find even 10% of the people on your Facebook "friends" lists who you would actually enjoy spending time with one-on-one, or could call for help if you got in trouble.

The way a person games speaks volumes about how they see the world, particularly when talking about rules or setting design. Don't treat people like objects. Threat them like people. It's more fun.
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Lee_Szczepanik
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll echo Rachan's above post.
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Rachan
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nothing personal, Azrianni. I've never played Smallville, and I've had plenty of bad ideas myself. Everyone does. Just giving my opinion, that's all.
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azrianni
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:40 pm    Post subject: relationship dice Reply with quote

I don't mind the thoughts. It helps me to hear what people think. But I've seen relationship dice work in Dogs in the Vineyard, and while I haven't played Smallville yet, I think they'd work great there too.

But I think the system I've proposed handles your objections better than you think. If somebody was really worried about the dice not being able to flex enough, you can just let players switch the way the dice are assigned after each session.

But the idea here is that the dice reflect someone's investment in a relationship. If the villain turns out to be misunderstood, great. Now you have a friend or friendly rival that you're invested in. You can get the die bonus for saving him, or showing him up in a friendly contest, or whatever.

In my experience, especially with DITV, this certainly takes nothing away from roleplaying. What it does, instead, is gives you some story oomph from your relationships. When I try to save my girlfriend from the dragon, I've got a bonus d10 to roll to reflect that I CARE about the outcome.
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Max Schreck
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lee_Szczepanik wrote:
I'll echo Rachan's above post.

Really? Including the last paragraph about real life?

People can feel however they want about the mechanical implications of the OP's idea, but deducing from that how the OP feels about friendships and relationships in real life is a tad self-righteous, especially combined with the almost arrogant parting unwanted "advice" about how the OP should treat his friends, and that people's gaming habits reflect their real life mores.

I for one have more issues with the condescending tone in Rachan's post that I could ever have with the OP's "relationship-objectifying game mechanics." This is compounded by the fact that Rachan recently also injected his expert opinion on how we were ruining Savage Worlds by listing house rules; rules, I might add, that are not official and that no one is forced to use in their own game.

This is just a game. How people play it is nobody's business but their own, and it certainly does not give anyone carte blanche to advise them how to live their life, which is completely separate from the game.

As for the OP: I wouldn't be using the rules that you propose, partly because I don't think they would mesh thematically with the kind of campaigns that I run, but most importantly because I feel that they add needless complication to the rules. I'll refrain from speculating how these rules reflect you as a person.

Cheers,

Max
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Rachan
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:55 pm    Post subject: Re: relationship dice Reply with quote

azrianni wrote:
... this certainly takes nothing away from roleplaying. What it does, instead, is gives you some story oomph from your relationships. When I try to save my girlfriend from the dragon, I've got a bonus d10 to roll to reflect that I CARE about the outcome.


But that's the thing, story oomph should come from the story, not from the dice. Getting a +2 on a Persuasion roll against a mob boss in a little Italian spaghetti shop is a MECHANIC. Failing that Persuasion against the boss, but unknowingly convincing one of his mooks to slide you some secret information as you leave, that's STORY. Now you've involved another character, another big plot twist, and graduated an Extra to the status of Important Wild Card.

And I still say if you CARE about slaying the dragon, spend your bennies. That's what they're designed for. Just because I CARE about graduating college, it doesn't make me smarter, and it doesn't mean I'm going to ace all my tests. I have to make the decision to put in the effort -- metaphorically, I have to spend a benny.



P.S. @ Max Schrek >>

My third paragraph was speaking to the greater trend of social decay, not the OP's personal morals. I'm sorry if that wasn't clear. And I understand that things may be very different in Copenhagen, Denmark than they are in Alberta, Canada, where I'm from. But here, in my part of the world, people are zombies, and social networking is to blame. Everyone has a MILLION best friends, and nobody actually gives a crap about anyone.

Yes, this is hyperbole, but it's still representative.

And I never once claimed that "we were ruining Savage Worlds by listing house rules," or that I was an expert on the situation. I merely entered an opinion.
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The GIT!
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rachan wrote:
The way a person games speaks volumes about how they see the world, particularly when talking about rules or setting design. Don't treat people like objects. Threat them like people. It's more fun.

I respect everybody's right to express their opinion but I would like to say that, on a personal level, I really disagree with this statement. Whilst it may be true on occasions I have had, over the thirty years that I've been gaming, the good fortune and privilege to play with some fantastic role-players. These people, and I, have taken many opportunities to play characters that are dramatically different from ourselves both psychologically and morally; that is, afterall, one of the "fun" aspects of role-playing.

I sympathise with Rachan if he is in the unfortunate circumstance where such a statement is true but, please, don't make a generalisation about ALL gamers because of personal experience. It's like saying all gamers have forgotten what soap is Wink
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Rachan
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many of the gamers I know HAVE forgotten what soap is. That's why it's so hard to start a group here, because no non-gamers want to be associated with THOSE guys. But I digress …

The GIT! wrote:
… I have had, over the thirty years that I've been gaming, the good fortune and privilege to play with some fantastic role-players. These people, and I, have taken many opportunities to play characters that are dramatically different from ourselves both psychologically and morally; that is, afterall, one of the "fun" aspects of role-playing.


Likewise. But "fantastic roleplayers" are the exception, not the rule. For the vast majority of gamers, the "fun" aspect lies in bashing monsters and acting out antisocial fantasies.

To be fair, Savage Worlds tends to draw a more mature, roleplaying-oriented type of gamer than other, more popular systems. And also to be fair, the truly "antisocial gamer" is even rarer than the truly fantastic one—most gamers are actually normal people when they're not gaming, even if they do like to rape, pillage and murder in-game.

That said, it's the definition of "normal" I'm calling into question. Is it normal to publicly trash talk someone you barely remember from high school because they deleted you from their Facebook? It is normal, or even healthy, to speed down an icy road, not even paying attention to traffic because your text message convo simply CAN'T wait for the next red light? I could call the cops twice a day to report a texting driver—usually with a baby in the backseat—who cut someone off and almost caused an accident.

This is every day crap around here. I worked at a prominent tech retailer, selling consumer gadgets, and I can tell you from "the inside" that all this gadgetry is slowly but surely making "normal" people very object oriented. And with social networking, people are seeing other people as objects to be collected—more Facebook friends or Myspace hits somehow means you're a cooler/better person—and then discarded when they are no longer immediately useful.

And this proposed mechanic not only points in the direction of this type of social decay … but as RPGs are intended to imitate reality to a greater or lesser extent, it legitimizes this decay, implying that relationships should be mechanically objectified in the game because that's how it works in Real Life, too. Whether the OP is him/herself a victim of this decay, or is simply flexing his/her game-designer muscles, experimenting with ideas, as all of us do, is irrelevant. I've made no attack against his/her personal moral fiber, I've simply stated what I think the mechanic looks like. And that's the MECHANIC, not the OP.

One of the reasons people put ideas on forums is to see if other people interpret them in some way they never intended. Well? Here you go. I'm sure this was never Azrianni's intent, but it's definitely out there. And now he knows, so it's up to him to decide how big a deal it is at his table. I just don't think it's cool to objectify people, even if they are imaginary.
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Rachan
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And besides, a d10 BONUS is just horribly broken, no matter where it comes from.

If you must use this mechanic, I would say make your relationship roll like any other. On a success you get a +1 to the actual check you're making, on a raise you get a +2. A +4 is basically an auto-success on most rolls, so I would cap it at +2. You still can't "win" just because you "care."

Or even better than rolls, which require having an actual trait … D&D 4e has these special feats in one of the later books that let two or more characters with the same feat get a "teamwork bonus" on some particular task. It supposed to reflect characters who, say, had similar training in set-ups and combos in their thieves' guild or fighting academy.

Let characters take an edge that grants them an Attribute roll when interacting with other characters with that edge. Your character and his girlfriend both have the "Madly In Love" edge, so they get a Spirit roll to gain a "rescue me" bonus as described above in this post. Or two characters have the "Swift Strike of the Wrathful Leopard Ninja Assassin Training" edge, so they both make Agility rolls to bonus each other's Fighting rolls and Trick attempts if they work together (but ONLY these two characters can take the edge, it reflects their personal involvement with each other, not a monster-killing tactical thingy.)

Something like that. I would require spending a Benny to use the edge, but that's just me. I'm stingy with bonuses. But if you tie it to an Attribute roll, everybody already has those, so there's no need to spend skill points on a bunch of contrived "relationship" skills you'll hardly ever use. It's economical.

Come to think of it, I somehow don't feel that making it an Edge-and-Attribute-Roll combo WOULD be objectifying the characters. It seems like this way would go the opposite direction, building a MORE personal relationship between them, instead of reducing it to statistics and dice rolls. I actually may use this in my games … IF two characters's backstories suggest it.

Bah … I'm done now.
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Clint
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gang, stay on topic and remember the forum rules on treating everyone respectfully. I'm not calling anyone out as I expect this has run its course. Please don't prove me wrong.

As to the topic, if that kind of mechanic appeals, why not simply make the Wild Die into the Relationship die? Or perhaps more specifically...

Relationship
Requirement: Novice, Wild Card

You have an emotional connection with another Wild Card (positive or negative). When performing an action that directly affects them, you have a d8 Wild Die instead of a d6. This Edge may be taken more than once to apply to different characters.

Strong Relationship
Requirements: Novice, Wild Card, Connection

Your emotional connection to another Wild Card is even more powerful. You have a d10 Wild Die when performing an action that directly affects them instead of a d8. This Edge may be taken more than once to apply to different characters.

And if you want such an element to be an integral part of a setting, then as a Setting Rule, players might get Relationship as a free Edge at Novice, and choose Relationship or Strong Relationship as a free Edge every Rank. Or maybe characters get a number of those Edges free equal to half their Spirit die type (remember to give it to NPC Wild Cards too).
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SavageGamerGirl
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another way to handle this without adding an Edge or tweaking the core rules in a houseruley way would be to make it a Hindrance. Some other superhero games do it like this as well. Because of the points you get back from taking Hindrances, you're better overall than you would be if you didn't have the Hindrance.

Of course, the biggest drawback to making it a Hindrance is that there's no way to apply it to relationships started after character creation, since Hindrances gained later have no mechanical benefit.

I guess an Edge would work best.

In that regard, instead of an Edge that alters our Wild Die, how about an Edge that gives you an extra Benny (or two) to spend *only* when your actions directly benefit your relationship? The improved version would give you another extra Benny.
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Raskolnik
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Though it's more limited in scope, perhaps you could make an Edge around the hysterical strength phenomenon. Drawback could be that it's limited to situations involving a character where the player has an emotional bond with, maybe costing a bennie to activate.

Adrenaline Surge
Novice, bond to x, bennie to trigger
In times of utmost distress a deep, primal energy rush infuses you with inexplicable strength and resolve. Your next action affecting x has a Wild Die of d8 instead of d6; additionally add a +2 bonus to the result of the roll.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SavageGamerGirl wrote:
Of course, the biggest drawback to making it a Hindrance is that there's no way to apply it to relationships started after character creation, since Hindrances gained later have no mechanical benefit.

Other than the increased chance of Benny acquisition.

"And your snooty reporter girlfriend is held hostage. Again. Have a Benny."
"That's the fourth time this session. Best. Hindrance. Ever."
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Rachan
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Noooooo … I think you guys (and gals) are on to something with the Hindrance idea.

The whole point is it's supposed to represent how much you CARE about someone, right? Well, a plain, old adrenaline surge can happen in ANY time of stress (like that little old lady who flipped a car over to save the kid trapped underneath … true story), so I STILL can't see why you'd get a bonus for this. And giving out bennies for this Edge is STILL hurting dramatic tension, and rewarding the player because, basically, he's sad and he wants a cookie.

But …

Let's say, whenever you're snooty reporter girlfriend is taken hostage (again), the Hindrance gives you a -1 PENALTY to rolls that aren't somehow involved in rescuing her. This is because, when you CARE, you WORRY, and when you worry, it's harder to focus on anything else.

You may gain an extra Benny for convincing the group to help you go after her, even when the obvious tactical decision is to stop the villain's evil doomsday weapon. Your party member with the Loyal Hindrance may even get one for deciding to go with you, when the rest of the group won't. And HIS girlfriend might get one for sticking with HIM, because she's his girlfriend and yours is missing and that's where she knows she needs to be.

But these are all bennies given for roleplaying your Hindrances, not for a mechanical rule that arbitrarily hands them out as the story unfolds. So it's not just "giving you" bennies, it's giving the whole group more opportunities to roleplay so you can EARN them. And a -1 penalty isn't enough to really set you back much, but it's enough to make you want to get on with the rescuing—it motivates without being too harsh.

If you want to get really crunchy, you could say the penalty is -1d4 instead of -1. Then the character might be keeping his cool one day, but completely losing it the next. Stress will do that. Or you could give him a Spirit roll to negate the penalty on any given roll, but failure means he takes the difference as his NEW penalty (rolled a 2, penalty of -1 already in place, TN 4; so 2-1=1 for your actual roll, 4-1=3, new penalty is -3). But personally I think it's too much math, and it takes away from FFF. If there was some way to make negating the penalty look like breaking Shaken without making it TOO easy, that'd be better. That's a mechanic everyone is already familiar with. Or just tell him, "Hindrances are supposed to suck. That's why they're called 'Hindrances.' No negating your penalty."
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77IM
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the original idea but I'm not sure about some of the mechanics.

First, if a player spends a benny to activate, and then they pick the "best" roll, they are NEVER going to pick the triple-1s total-hose result. So you can just leave that part out.

Likewise, unless the initial roll was a crit fail, nobody's going to pick that result either (and if they have a benny left they might roll again), so it also might not be worth worrying about. It seems redundant with the idea of gaining a relationship complication on a 1. Plus, if roll 1, 1, 27, and that counts as a crit fail rather than smashing success, I'd feel totally ripped off. Especially if I spent a benny. The only thing less fun than spending a benny and still failing, is spending a benny and actually making things worse!

So I might do as Snate56 suggests and skip the benny cost. Make the risk of rolling a 1 the real cost.

I wouldn't require advances, edges, or skills to affect the relationship dice. I'd just give each player a bunch at the beginning of the campaign -- say, 10 relationship points, that they can distribute just like attribute points (minimum d4, max d12, so you start with at most 5 relationships). Then I'd just adjust them through role-playing. Hate the enemy even more? Increase a die size! Girlfriend dump you? Decrease a die size! (Or maybe increase if you are obsessed.) Because this mechanic is meant to help drive the story (it encourages you to do things involving your relationships because you are more likely to succeed) I think it should stem from the story also.

One thing you could do, as Clint suggests, is use the relationship die as the wild die. You could use d4 to represent "no relationship," so when your character is doing something that isn't really relevant to them, you are actually penalized with a smaller wild die. Under this system, I'd make it really easy to get d6 relationships and relatively harder to get d8+ relationships.

-- 77IM
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have strengthened relationships in our product lines with the use of the Obligations hindrance and how it interacts with Connections.

The Common Bond edge could be expanded to work with any NPCs the character has relationships with. I know some folks have expanded out the use of Leadership edges to work on other WC. Why not those characters with whom you have a relationship?

We've been working on some Social Ties variants for Echo of Dead Leaves, and there is a lot to be said for just tweaking what is already present.

Regards,

Sean
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