Who Do You Know?

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Last week at D&D in a Castle I got some big inspiration, and some of it was acquired before I ever even sat down to play. Cameron Rout, a writer and one of the event’s founders, Konstantinos Martinos, founder of Archvillain Games, and I had a conversation the day upon my arrival about traveling and meeting with friends and family who live in distant locations. That got us talking about the module I am going to present in this post. You can use this module to build each player character’s personal relationships and backstory with your world as you play. The module is system and setting agnostic.

Relationship and History Tables

Whenever the characters come to a new settlement, you can choose or roll on the NPC Personal Relationships and NPC Relationship Statuses tables for each character to determine if that character has any old friends, foes, or family settled or passing through the area.

The NPC you introduce could be from the character’s backstory, a previously encountered NPC, or it could be someone entirely new that the player of the character helps you create. Be collaborative in this process with your players.

For instance, the GM rolls on the table and determines Bluffo McFlumph the cleric has an NPC cousin who lives in town that owes Bluffo money. The GM reveals these results to Cindy, Bluffo’s player. Cindy tells the GM that Bluffo’s cousin is named Miranth and owes Bluffo money after the cleric bailed her out of a gambling debt. Now the GM has to decide if Miranth has the money for Bluffo, or if she has even deeper gambling debts that have gotten her in more trouble.

You could also roll on the table and keep the results hidden from the player until their character encounters the NPC. Make sure your players are comfortable with improvisation on the spot before trying this approach. For instance, when the characters arrive at a new space station, the GM rolls on the table and determines Kixaras Laserface the space marine has an ex-lover who has an item Kixaras desires. The GM waits until the marine is having dinner at a bar and the lover walks in to reveal the results and asks Jenny, Kixaras’s player, who the marine’s ex is and what item the person has that Kixaras wants. Jenny decides the lover is Tal, a pirate the characters met in a previous adventure, and that she has a map to a treasure Kixaras desires.

NPC Personal Relationships

d100Relationship
1 – 20Friend
21Parent
22Grandparent
23Great-grandparent
24 – 25Sibling
26 – 30Cousin
31 – 50Distant cousin
51 – 53Nibling (such as a niece or nephew)
54 – 56Pibling (such as an aunt or uncle)
57 – 59Great-pibling
60Offspring (a child of the character)
61Ex-lover
62 – 70Ex-friend
71 – 75Rival
76 – 80Former business associate
81 – 85Current business associate
86 – 90Someone the character idolizes
91 – 95Someone who idolizes the character
96 – 100Friend of another relation (roll again on this table to determine)

NPC Relationship Statuses

d20Status
1The NPC owes the character money.
2The character owes the NPC money.
3The NPC is in dire danger and needs the character’s help.
4The NPC has information that could help the character.
5The NPC has an item that could help the character.
6The last time the NPC and character saw each other, they had a terrible argument.
7The NPC knows a dark secret about the character.
8The character knows a dark secret about the NPC.
9The NPC previously bullied the character.
10The NPC loves the character unconditionally.
11The NPC secretly desires to publicly embarass the character.
12The NPC and character used to be close but have grown apart.
13The NPC likes the character but has a close friend or lover that cannot stand the character.
14The character’s enemies are forcing the NPC to betray or trap the character in some way.
15The NPC wants to share gossip about a common relation with the character.
16The NPC has a scheme to make money using the character’s skills.
17The NPC competes with the character as often as possible.
18The NPC has bad news to deliver to the character.
19The NPC is keeping an item safe for the character.
20Roll twice on this table and use both results, ignoring this result if it comes up a second time.

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