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Alternative Relationship/Allegiance System and Skill Decay


Baconjurer

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As an idea for my house rules, I'd like a rough mechanic of somekind to track relationships between individual NPCs and groups/guilds/etc. 

My rough idea so far is that every new relationship starts at 50% (neutral). "Any time you use a skill and score a special success working towards something that can reasonably be considered for that individual or group and/or are wearing an insignia or tabard clearly displaying your affiliation, those relationships increase by 1% and any faction or individual you are reasonably considered to be working against goes down by 1%." Relationships would have different levels, like skills (maybe <30% hated, 30-40% hostile, 40-60% neutral,  60-70% friendly, 70-80% honored, 80%+ revered) that would have different meanings and benefits/consequences.

This makes sense in my head because as you become more skillful, your chance of scoring criticals increases, so the more legendary your skills, the more quickly your reputation grows. Also criticals are supposed to represent some sort of memorable use of the skill, and memorable events in the name of some relationship or organization would impact your reputation with that person/organization, and with their enemies.

This would need to be used in tandem with some sort of skill decay. I would like to avoid the no stat atrophy trope, but also want something that's simple and doesn't require any more notes. So I'm thinking something like: "every month in game time every skill decreases by 1%" and "every year in game time your primary characteristics decrease by 1." At first I thought of something like "every skill that hasn't been used for x-time decreases", but that seemed very difficult to track. This way you simply always have to increase your skills by at least 1 point once a month in game time, and no tracking of when the last time you increased your skill would be necessary. Relationships would be a special case. Any relationship score over 50% decreases as normal 1% per month. Any relationship less than 50% increases 1% per month. This is because neutral feelings is 50%. 

I should also note that my current house rules allow multiple skill ups per session, not only at the end of the adventure. Thoughts? 

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The system would certainly work, but it would seem a bit too simplified for my taste, mainly because it does not consider the importance of a specific activity of the character for the group/guild in question. In my view it should make a significant difference whether the character, for example, rescues (or kills) the leader of the group/guild or helps (or hinders) that group/guild in a much more minor way. A flat 1% increase/decrease without regard for the importance of the activity just seems unrealistic to me.

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Good point @rust. Maybe the flat +1% increase from critical success occurs during quest/task or if you are acting in their name with a holy symbol, tabard, or insignia of some sort, while the actual completion of a task would grant some variable bonus based on it's importance to that party and his/her/their enemies. That of course would fall under referee fiat. That way you improve your relationships by accomplishing great deeds in that relationships honor and by actually helping them with something.

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Just some thoughts on the subject:

1) It probably makes sense to have the affiliation increase awarded for how well the character succeeded at the task, and how important the task is, not so much on a die roll. For instance, if the character had to defeat an enemy of the group in a duel, winning the duel, even if he wins by a series of marginal successes is more important to the group than if he gets in one good shot (a special), but loses the duel. 

Therefore I'd suggest basing the award on the task and treating the degree of success as a modifier. For instance if a task was worth a 3% (or 1D6%) increase, a special success might up the reward 1%. 

 

2) I think the relationship should probably start off much lower. Probably 0% for unknowns. I'd use a negative score to reflect a negative relationship with a group That would allow people who do something against someone to earn relationship points with a group by acting against someone who has a negative score.  I also think the relationship rating could be used to complement other social skill rolls involving that group (see below).. 

 

3) What you might want to do is track a score for Fame using your basic method, since if someone does something impressive, it will be impressive no matter who is is doing if for. So if someone slays a dragon, hits a coin from 200 paces with an arrow, etc. it will still generate fame. But the relationship score for an  would be based on what the character does for (or against) that group. This could mean tracking it as a separate skill, or, if you are familiar with Pendragon, as a directed trait. What that means is that the group score would act as a modifier to appropriate skills involving the group. A high score would make it easier to bargain with them, an negative score would make it harder, and so forth.

 

 

 

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Fire and Sword, which is available on this site had a tracking mechanism for allegiance to groups or cults. Each action which helps the group gets a few points. If you get 100 points the group or cult owes you a favour; you could also get a favour outright for completing important quests.

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17 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

3) What you might want to do is track a score for Fame using your basic method, since if someone does something impressive, it will be impressive no matter who is is doing if for.

I like that idea of Fame (or Infamy) as a somewhat quantifiable element. It's not inherently positive or negative... because it invites adoration but also acrimony. Like the idea of a famous gunfighter always being accosted by 'young-uns' out to prove themselves. It could be leveraged to dominate strangers during bargaining... to gain access to people and places... but it would also make it a bit harder to go unnoticed and benefit from anonymity when it's convenient.

Depending on the setting it should probably have some sort of fall-off over distance from initial deeds... but that could get complicated.

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31 minutes ago, Simlasa said:

I like that idea of Fame (or Infamy) as a somewhat quantifiable element. It's not inherently positive or negative... because it invites adoration but also acrimony.

I could see it being applied positively or negatively depending upon the situation and whom you are dealing with. For instance, someone who has gained a Fame score of 70 by slaying dragons might be a hero in the realm (positive score) but be considered an enemy of dragons (a negative score).

 

Frankly quite a bit of this could be extrapolated from the old Stormbringer Elan rules, Pendragon, and possibly even the old Thieves World boxed set. 

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1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

I could see it being applied positively or negatively depending upon the situation and whom you are dealing with.

Even within a faction you're trying to get in good graces with, who generally like you, being the rising star might put you on the shit-list of your competition (other initiates jockeying for attention).

I could see having a high Fame score meaning that, in towns, the GM would roll on a random event table that had stuff like 'attracts a crowd', 'offered free stuff', 'invited to join faction x'... as well as stuff like 'overcharged for services', 'assassination attempt', and 'followed by annoying children'.

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Yeah, and you'd be the first person people would think to go to when they had some sort of problem. And the first target for young toughs trying to prove how "bad" they are. But I could see how it could help even when dealing with those who aren't well disposed towards you. The bad guys might be more willing to negotiate if they are up against some hero with a 90 Fame score (and the skills that go with it).

 

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10 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

The bad guys might be more willing to negotiate if they are up against some hero with a 90 Fame score (and the skills that go with it).

IF the skills go with it... as opposed to a 'Brave Little Tailor' type of situation (because I think it would be fun if you can drive up your Fame in a variety of ways, including fraudulent claims or accidents of fortune... if you dare).
Otherwise you might have to bluff.
I'm guessing it would also come with more responsibilities... if you want to maintain the reputation. Like not ignoring (or shouting at) the urchin who comes to you hoping you'll help find its mother.
Your behavior will be under heightened scrutiny.

Sounds fun to me.

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@Atgxtg

1) Maybe I would make it combat only, and anytime you score a critical against some enemy, your relationship with them and their organization gets worse, and your relationship with their enemy gets better. But that might be a little to bean-county for combat...

I definitely want helping the person/organization out to improve relationship scores. I think what I'd like is that helping someone or some group out would increase your relationship with them by 1-3% where 1% is something a friend would do, and 3% is something a friend who is also a great hero would do.

2) I wanted relationships to start at 50% for neutral because I wanted the range to be from hated (0%) --> revered (100%). This would be variable. For example, if orcs are racist against the player for being human, then naturally the starting relationship between the orcs and the player would be lower, possibly 0%, depending on the setting. 

3) The Fame score is a cool idea, but I think I still would need to track reputation with individual organizations. In your example killing a dragon would make you less popular with dragons and more popular with humans, but perhaps you later went out and ended the sport of dragon hunting. Then your reputation might stay the same with humans or possibly go down depending on the means of ending the sport, but your reputation with the dragons would go up. So fame doesn't quite keep track of that.

Also I'm worried I might get weird situations where a player with a really high Fame score went to visit a tribe of lizardmen in an unexplored rainforest. That player would of course be totally unknown to them, and thus the Fame score meaningless. So I think tracking just individual relationship levels would cover Fame, as well as avoiding weirdness with combining them all.

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22 minutes ago, Baconjurer said:

Also I'm worried I might get weird situations where a player with a really high Fame score went to visit a tribe of lizardmen in an unexplored rainforest. That player would of course be totally unknown to them, and thus the Fame score meaningless. So I think tracking just individual relationship levels would cover Fame, as well as avoiding weirdness with combining them all.

Keeping track of relationship stats for multiple factions/individuals seems like it could pretty quickly get unwieldy. I remember Eclipse Phase having a lot of that... not sure how it worked in the long-run.

I'd assume Fame would be regional... so yeah, those lizardmen wouldn't know who you were... which doesn't seem weird to me... and not much different than starting off with a neutral relationship level for them.

It might be a bonus if somewhere else you were famous for killing some infamous lizardmen bandits.

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1 hour ago, Simlasa said:

Keeping track of relationship stats for multiple factions/individuals seems like it could pretty quickly get unwieldy. I remember Eclipse Phase having a lot of that... not sure how it worked in the long-run.

I'd assume Fame would be regional... so yeah, those lizardmen wouldn't know who you were... which doesn't seem weird to me... and not much different than starting off with a neutral relationship level for them.

It might be a bonus if somewhere else you were famous for killing some infamous lizardmen bandits.

I use both systems. In practice, each character only has to track their relationships with a few key organisations, such as cults and guilds, so it doesn't get too out of hand. I just use Allegiance points for cults.

As for fame, I award single Fame points for great deeds (usually completing adventures or other significant deeds). I list on each character sheet what the Fame point is for. When Fame is relevant I use a Fame x5 check to see if the character is known. I suppose if the character is very far from his or her known haunts or dealing with particularly ignorant monsters such as the lizardmen you could make the check Difficult.

Example: Yucta Axotylata, Kleshite master of herb-lore, doubter of the gods. He is quite a long-term character and the veteran of three or more campaigns.

Fame: 10

  1. for being marked by Zola Fel as a River Voice
  2. for defeating the Beastmen of Five Eyes Rise
  3. for defeating the Colossal Gorp at Harpoon
  4. for defeating the chaos menace to the Zola Fel river
  5. for journeying to the Moon in the Dreamlands and rescuing Feroza
  6. for rescuing Feroza again in Nehwon from the caverns below Black Mesa
  7. for traversing Horn Gate
  8. for battling the Icewyrm of Olathoe
  9. for killing the Icewyrm of Olathoe
  10. for rescuing the prisoners of Crag Don from the Wodemen

Using Fame in this way can also help with the relationship score. For example, an adventurer moves into a new city and decides to stay for a while. Their initial reputation in that city could start as CHA + Fame, and be improved by 'fitting in' socially or being seen to do notable deeds for the city.

 

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13 hours ago, Baconjurer said:

I definitely want helping the person/organization out to improve relationship scores. I think what I'd like is that helping someone or some group out would increase your relationship with them by 1-3% where 1% is something a friend would do, and 3% is something a friend who is also a great hero would do.

You might want to look over the old Elan rules in Stormbringer. While it was designed to handle standing with Gods, the basic mechanics could work out fairly well for handling groups. Basically, there was a list of things a character could do that would affect his standing with a certain deity. 

13 hours ago, Baconjurer said:

2) I wanted relationships to start at 50% for neutral because I wanted the range to be from hated (0%) --> revered (100%). This would be variable. For example, if orcs are racist against the player for being human, then naturally the starting relationship between the orcs and the player would be lower, possibly 0%, depending on the setting. 

I'm just not sure how that would actually work in play. If someone who was unfamiliar with the group has a 50% rating, could he call in favors and such using that 50% rating? 

13 hours ago, Baconjurer said:

3) The Fame score is a cool idea, but I think I still would need to track reputation with individual organizations. In your example killing a dragon would make you less popular with dragons and more popular with humans, but perhaps you later went out and ended the sport of dragon hunting. Then your reputation might stay the same with humans or possibly go down depending on the means of ending the sport, but your reputation with the dragons would go up. So fame doesn't quite keep track of that.

That's why I suggested Directed Traits from Pendragon. Basically what Directed Traits are are modifiers that apply to another trait under certain circumstances (i.e with certain groups). For example someone could have a +20 score against people from a particular area, but  a -30 score with dragons and so on. 

13 hours ago, Baconjurer said:

Also I'm worried I might get weird situations where a player with a really high Fame score went to visit a tribe of lizardmen in an unexplored rainforest. That player would of course be totally unknown to them, and thus the Fame score meaningless. So I think tracking just individual relationship levels would cover Fame, as well as avoiding weirdness with combining them all.

Well you could apply a multiplier to fame based on how far the character is from his usual turf. Maybe in his home town it would be an easy roll, in the next kingdom over it would be a hard roll, and in a location where he isn't know at all it would be at 0. The thing with tracking just relationships is that someone might be well known to a group, but not all that well know to the public, depending on just what he's done. 

 

Butm, hey it's your idea, I'm just tossing out some ways you could work with it. Or not. 

 

Oh, BTW, maybe instead of a fixed reward you could have some actions give an improvement check? That way the higher the character's standing with a group the more he will have to do in order to increase his standing. 

 

 

 

 

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I run a magic world / mythras mash up and I've been running organizations similar to how classic fantasy / mythras does it. It's a simple rank system. It doesn't decay over time as the connections you have in the organization will always remember what you've done for them - unless they get deposed, but that's another story.

 

To track fame / infamy I use the allegiance system in Magic World. It's not exactly infamy per say, but players are much more likely to be recognized for their alignment so to speak the higher it is. I keep a loose track of the organizations they are part of, the locations of the branches they've assisted and the higher the rank the more renown they are out from that location.

 

I know it's not a hard and fast ruleset, but it's a great yard stick so to speak. Create a local organization, have player ranks in them, and make those deeds known to those familiar with their organization. Use allegiance for more like a light fame / infamy / alignment system. Works well for me with little overhead above what I'd already be keeping track of.

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What about getting rid of in-game skill checks for relationships and simply make it all off-camera, using the training mechanics? What that would mean during "training" are spending time with the person/organization, learning about them, building connections, being a part of their life/the organizations ways. On top of that perhaps add in immediate bonuses for certain heroic deeds you accomplish for them.

On 3/28/2017 at 8:45 AM, Atgxtg said:

I'm just not sure how that would actually work in play. If someone who was unfamiliar with the group has a 50% rating, could he call in favors and such using that 50% rating?

Well I chose 50% mostly because I thought negative percentages would make things a bit wonky. Maybe it is simpler to set Neutral at 0% and have positive and negative. That way you can just directly add the relationship to any relevant skill checks. I'm not very sure which would be better in play though.

I was envisioning that a good relationship score would add bonuses, but it'd be over 50%, e.g. maybe a 60% score in the relationship would give you a 10% advantage if you were requesting something from them. Or 10% discount if you wanted them to train you or buying stuff off them. Higher relationships should give you access to secrets and powers. Relationships with certain deities would open up communications, perhaps giving you access to divine powers. On the opposite side, you are more dangerous to any opposing forces, giving penalties to requests from them. Very bad relationships would influence initial reactions in an encounter, perhaps even putting a price on your head and assassins on your tail.

 

What about skill/relationship atrophy? I've done some more research on what other systems do. I saw Mouse Guard just limits the number of skills your character can have. That makes sense to me because you only have so many hours in a month and logically could only focus on a certain number of skills. The exact limit could be calculated up front based on how many hours are in a month and how long it takes in training to improve skills. It should be very math light in play which I like. The downside of implementing that system is it's too simplified. It's not very logical that you simply can't take up another skill without totally forgetting one first. You can't be a jack of all trades, master of none type character. Any thoughts on skill decay? Does anyone think skill atrophy sounds fun or interesting, or is it just going to get in the way of more fun things?

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A couple of years ago I was still a fan of very detailed mechanics for almost every element of my roleplaying game settings, but nowadays I prefer a more narrative, non-mechanical approach to all elements which do not obviously require the use of mathematics. Therefore I tend to handle both relationships and skill decay narratively, without any defined mechanics. A character who does something for an organization earns some favor which I consider an interesting story element, and a character who does not use a skill for some time risks to lose the number of skill points I consider "just right" for the character's story. While I certainly admit that this way to handle it is arbitrary, I feel that it better helps to create an interesting story than a game mechanic could do. 

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19 hours ago, Baconjurer said:

What about getting rid of in-game skill checks for relationships and simply make it all off-camera, using the training mechanics? What that would mean during "training" are spending time with the person/organization, learning about them, building connections, being a part of their life/the organizations ways. On top of that perhaps add in immediate bonuses for certain heroic deeds you accomplish for them. 

Possibly. But if you do that you probably will need to give out awards/penetalies for when people do things that affect their relationships in play. 

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Well I chose 50% mostly because I thought negative percentages would make things a bit wonky. Maybe it is simpler to set Neutral at 0% and have positive and negative. That way you can just directly add the relationship to any relevant skill checks. I'm not very sure which would be better in play though.

That's what I think. In fact, if you are going to use it as a modifier, I suggest you keep in in increments of 5% or better yet 10%, and have it progress a bit slower. Another possibility might be to treat the relationship as a complentary skill (BRP page 50). which would keep the modifiers down a bit.  For enemies you can just substract the modfier insteead (so you don't really need a actual negative score).

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What about skill/relationship atrophy? I've done some more research on what other systems do. I saw Mouse Guard just limits the number of skills your character can have. That makes sense to me because you only have so many hours in a month and logically could only focus on a certain number of skills. The exact limit could be calculated up front based on how many hours are in a month and how long it takes in training to improve skills. It should be very math light in play which I like. The downside of implementing that system is it's too simplified. It's not very logical that you simply can't take up another skill without totally forgetting one first. You can't be a jack of all trades, master of none type character. Any thoughts on skill decay? Does anyone think skill atrophy sounds fun or interesting, or is it just going to get in the way of more fun things?

One of the best things I've seen along those lines was for the Flashing Blades RPG. Basically, you had to get a skill check in a skill over the year to keep it at the current level. Note you didn't have to improve you just needed to earn a check. That would be very easy to swipe. Oh, and enough training/pracice to warrent an imrpovement roll (or improvment) would could.You could have the loss be 1D6% or some other value.

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21 hours ago, rust said:

A couple of years ago I was still a fan of very detailed mechanics for almost every element of my roleplaying game settings, but nowadays I prefer a more narrative, non-mechanical approach to all elements which do not obviously require the use of mathematics. Therefore I tend to handle both relationships and skill decay narratively, without any defined mechanics. A character who does something for an organization earns some favor which I consider an interesting story element, and a character who does not use a skill for some time risks to lose the number of skill points I consider "just right" for the character's story. While I certainly admit that this way to handle it is arbitrary, I feel that it better helps to create an interesting story than a game mechanic could do. 

I'm firmly in the same boat as you. I like loose frameworks to follow, but come up with most hard rules through roleplay these days. My players call it "experience" but what they don't know is I'm just lazy.

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