No villain ever seems to understand that when he threatens a hero’s family, things go south for him. After all, nothing gives the beleaguered champion one last surge of strength like the sight of a loved one in peril. Relationships are the cornerstone of all that heroes are and can be.
This section helps you create dynamic and important relationships for player characters. Building a relationship between a PC and a key NPC can eventually grant that PC unique advantages and boons—whether the relationship is amiable or adversarial.
When your PC first meets a significant NPC (assuming the NPC isn’t already part of your character’s backstory), the GM may inform you that your PC can build a relationship with that NPC. If you are interested in doing so, record the NPC’s name on your character sheet, the current Relationship Score you have with that NPC, and whether the relationship is friendly or competitive. Normally, your Relationship Score for a new contact is equal to your Charisma modifier, but the GM may decide that a relationship with a character tied to your backstory starts with a higher Relationship Score.
A relationship with an NPC can be either friendly or competitive—you get to choose which kind to pursue. Various in-game events can spontaneously change a relationship from one type to the other.
Your Relationship Level with an NPC is based on your Relationship Score, which can increase in play (see Growing Relationships). You gain new benefits when an NPC’s relationship with you progresses to a new level.
|Relationship Score||Relationship Level|
|5 or lower||Association|
|31 or higher||Devotion/Enmity|
You and the NPC know each other, but not well enough to have a significant bond.
You are a good friend or known competitor of the NPC. Whenever you gain this Relationship Level with an NPC for the first time, your party gains 200 XP. The first time you gain this benefit in a campaign, your party gains an additional 200 XP. Most existing relationships from a backstory start at this level, and such a relationship does not grant you XP, as it predates the start of play.
You have strong ties to the NPC, either through deep mutual respect and admiration or through a strong sense of competition and conflict. As long as the other NPC is alive and active in the campaign, you gain a +1 morale bonus on all Charisma-based skill checks. Whenever you gain this Relationship Level with an NPC for the first time, your party gains 600 XP. The first time you gain this benefit in a campaign, your party gains an additional 600 XP.
You and the NPC are devoted to each other or actively opposed to one another. Whenever you gain this Relationship Level with an NPC for the first time, your party gains 1,600 XP. The first time you gain this benefit in a campaign, your party gains an additional 1,600 XP.
You can change your Relationship Score with an NPC in the following ways.
If you have a campaign trait associated with a specific NPC, your Relationship Score with that NPC gains a one-time increase of 4 points.
Since your base Relationship Score with any NPC is equal to your Charisma modifier, when your Charisma score changes permanently (such as from Charisma drain or a headband of alluring Charisma), your Relationship Scores with NPCs change with it. Temporary changes, such as from ability damage or bonuses from spells like eagle’s splendor, do not alter Relationship Scores.
Every time you gain a character level, you may increase your Relationship Score with one NPC still active in the campaign by 1 point.
In addition, for every month you spend in close interaction (e.g. meeting twice a week, travelling companions, business partners), you may increase your Relationship Score with that NPC still active in the campaign by 1 point.
Gifts and Insults:
A special gift can increase a friendly Relationship Score with an NPC, and a perfectly crafted insult can increase a competitive Relationship Score. Gifts and insults can’t be just anything—each NPC reacts strongly to different things. When you establish a relationship, the GM should suggest one kind of gift or insult appropriate to the NPC. You can learn other relevant gifts or insults by observing the NPC in play.
Every time you gain a character level, you may give one special gift to or craft one perfect insult for each NPC with whom you have a relationship. The gift can be an item you found, built, or purchased. In most cases, the cost of the item is irrelevant as long as it’s an honest gift.
When you think you have the right kind of gift or the right insult, inform the GM of your intent, then make a Diplomacy check (for a gift) or an Intimidate check (for an insult). If you roleplay the gift or insult’s delivery particularly well, the GM might award up to a +4 bonus on this check. If you roleplay the interaction poorly, or if you time things badly enough (attempting to give a gift in the middle of combat, for example), the GM might give up to a –4 penalty on the check. The DC for this check is equal to your current Relationship Score with the NPC. If you succeed, your Relationship Score with that NPC increases by 1 point. If you exceed the DC by 10 or more, it increases by 2 points instead. Failure means there’s no change.
Certain events in a campaign can alter your Relationship Score with an NPC, such as saving a friend from execution or humiliating a competitor in public. The GM should inform you of these adjustments if and when they occur. These events generally increase your Relationship Score with that NPC by 1 to 5, but a particularly dramatic event can increase it by up to 10.