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2013-07-29 20:04

Defining the relationships and bonds between the player characters of a tabletop role-playing game

While I was watching the YouTube video Warhammer 40k Dark Heresy RollPlay, an introduction I heard them talking about defining bonds, or relationships, between the different player characters at the table. Since I thought it sounded really cool, I started to research this topic on the Internet and even a discussion in the #DnD channel in Freenode broke out. Apparently this is a game mechanism which is already used in a few RPGs out there, including the Monster of the Week and the Under World RPG.

Since I have just started to try and become a Game Master for the Pathfinder RPG, I wanted to try and incorporate this into my own group to create some inner-party chaotic relationship conflicts among the players ;-)

So, what I have done is tried to gather, summarize, rewritten and compile a list from my research, a list of different ways two characters could be bonded with each other.

I have actually created two lists:

  • How your character has influenced another character, and;
  • How another character has influenced your own character

Rolling on the relationships

Since I have two lists, I will ask each player to make four rolls - two rolls for each list. So for the first list, a player might roll; 1 and 2, and for the second list they might roll 3 and 4 (I just made up these rolls).

Afterwards I will tell them their options (1 and 2 from the first list) and that they have to pick one relationship where their character has influenced another character, and then a second relationship (3 and 4 from the second list) where another character has influenced their own character. The player cannot pick the same character for both relationships, meaning they have to pick two character - one character for each relationship.

I think it is also important that the players acknowledge and honor their newly created relationships, and keep it in mind during the games ahead!

But to be honest, these relationships can be distributed in any way, this is just how I am planning to do for my own group.

List 1: A relationship where your character has influenced another character

  1. You think _ is not the sharpest tool in the shed and working on enlightening them.
  2. You do not trust _ and for good reason. What is the reason?
  3. You have stolen something from _. Ask them was it was and how they felt about it.
  4. You think _ is woefully misinformed about the world and you have decided to teach them all you know.
  5. You believe that _ will play an important role in the future. What will they do?
  6. You helped _ at a critical point in their quest for revenge. How?
  7. You grew up with _. Where was this?
  8. You have a nickname for _. What is it?
  9. You and _ have a con running. What is the plan?
  10. For some reason _ often does what you say. How come?
  11. You betrayed _ once before and they still have unresolved emotions with you. What happened?
  12. You failed _ once before and they still have unresolved emotions with you. What happened?
  13. You think _ is misguided and you are working on converting them to your faith and views. What faith or views could that be?
  14. You know _'s secret and you are watching them. What is that secret?
  15. You have been rumors about _ and do not fully trust them. What rumors would that be?
  16. You saved _ from doing a huge mistake once. When was this and what mistake was it?
  17. You often make fun of _ in your jokes. How come?
  18. You saw _ absolutely lose it and go berserk once. What happened?
  19. _ owes you a favor, whether they admit it or not. Why?
  20. _ came to you for advice once. What advice was that?
  21. At some point, _ has sworn to protect you. Why and what happened?
  22. _ lost control one time and almost killed you. How did you stop them?
  23. _ owes you their life, whether they admit it or not. How come?
  24. _ knows incriminating details about you. What details are these?
  25. You and _ lost a mutual friend or relative. Who was it and what happened?
  26. _ stood between you and what you wanted. What was it and why did you do it?
  27. You think that _ is a liability and not an asset to the group. How come?
  28. You think _ is soft but you will make them hard as you. Why do you think they are soft?
  29. You respect _'s hard-earned knowledge, and often come to them for advice.
  30. You met _ in another adventure before. When was this?
  31. You saved _'s life in a tight spot once. What happened?
  32. _ and you fought together against the odds and prevailed. In what situation was that?
  33. You saw _ use their power for selfish or vindictive reasons. Who was the victim and what did they do?
  34. You and _ has shared the same vision. What vision was this?

List 2: A relationship where your character has been influenced by another character

  1. _ thinks you are not the sharpest tool in the shed and is working on enlightening you.
  2. _ does not trust you and for good reason. Ask them what the reason is.
  3. _ has stolen something from you. What was it and how does it make you feel?
  4. _ thinks you are woefully misinformed about the world and they have decided to teach them you all they know.
  5. _ believes you will play an important role in the future. Ask them what they think you will do?
  6. _ helped you at a critical point in your quest for revenge. Ask them how.
  7. _ grew up with you. Ask them where this was.
  8. _ has a nickname for you. Ask them what it is.
  9. _ and you have a con running. Ask them what the plan is.
  10. _ often tells you what to do. Ask them how come.
  11. _ has betrayed you once before and you still have unresolved emotions with them. Ask them what happened.
  12. _ has failed you once before and you still have unresolved emotions with them. Ask them what happened.
  13. _ thinks you are misguided and they are working on converting you to their faith or views. Ask them what faith or views they are.
  14. _ knows your secret and is watching you. Ask them what secret it is.
  15. _ has heard rumors about you and do not fully trust you. Ask them what rumors they were.
  16. _ saved you from doing a huge mistake once. Ask them when this was and what mistake was it?
  17. _ often makes jokes about you. Ask them why.
  18. _ saw you absolutely lose it and go berserk once. Ask them what happened.
  19. You owe _ a favor, whether you admit it or not. Ask them why.
  20. You went to _ for advice once. What you needed advice about?
  21. At some point, you have sworn to protect _. Ask them why and what happened?
  22. You lost control one time, and almost killed _. Ask them how did they stopped you.
  23. You owe _ your life, whether you admit it or not. Ask them why.
  24. You know incriminating details about _. Ask them what details these are.
  25. _ and you lost a mutual friend or relative. Ask them who it was and what happened?
  26. You stood between _ and what they needed. Ask them what it was and why they did it.
  27. _ thinks you are a liability and not an asset to the group. Ask them why.
  28. _ thinks you are soft and they want to make them hard as they. Ask them why they think you are soft.
  29. _ respects you for your hard-earned knowledge, and often come to you for advice.
  30. _ has met you in another adventure before. Ask them when this was.
  31. _ saved your life in a tight spot once. Ask them what happened.
  32. You fought together with _ against the odds and prevailed. Ask them in what situation that this was.
  33. _ saw you use your power for selfish or vindictive reasons. Ask them who the victim was and what you did.
  34. _ and you have shared the same vision. Ask them what vision was this.

If you have additional cool relationship suggestions, or have any additional comments, feel free to post a comment! :-)

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About Christoffer

Christoffer is a software and web developer, with more than 15 years experience of the Java language, now focusing on becoming a JavaScript and Dart Ninja.

Always interested in learning new and exciting new technologies and solutions within software- and web-development and the Internet, while suffering from the classic "I can't stop thinking" syndrome.

Currently working as a JavaScript Web Developer at QlikTech, while working on his own ideas and projects via his own software company during his spare time.

Please keep in mind that any opinions expressed here are Christoffer's own opinions and does not necessarily reflect those of his employer, or any other companies, organizations, groups or individuals.

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