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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
|1 – 20||Friend|
|24 – 25||Sibling|
|26 – 30||Cousin|
|31 – 50||Distant cousin|
|51 – 53||Nibling (such as a niece or nephew)|
|54 – 56||Pibling (such as an aunt or uncle)|
|57 – 59||Great-pibling|
|60||Offspring (a child of the character)|
|62 – 70||Ex-friend|
|71 – 75||Rival|
|76 – 80||Former business associate|
|81 – 85||Current business associate|
|86 – 90||Someone the character idolizes|
|91 – 95||Someone who idolizes the character|
|96 – 100||Friend of another relation (roll again on this table to determine)|
NPC Relationship Statuses
|1||The NPC owes the character money.|
|2||The character owes the NPC money.|
|3||The NPC is in dire danger and needs the character’s help.|
|4||The NPC has information that could help the character.|
|5||The NPC has an item that could help the character.|
|6||The last time the NPC and character saw each other, they had a terrible argument.|
|7||The NPC knows a dark secret about the character.|
|8||The character knows a dark secret about the NPC.|
|9||The NPC previously bullied the character.|
|10||The NPC loves the character unconditionally.|
|11||The NPC secretly desires to publicly embarass the character.|
|12||The NPC and character used to be close but have grown apart.|
|13||The NPC likes the character but has a close friend or lover that cannot stand the character.|
|14||The character’s enemies are forcing the NPC to betray or trap the character in some way.|
|15||The NPC wants to share gossip about a common relation with the character.|
|16||The NPC has a scheme to make money using the character’s skills.|
|17||The NPC competes with the character as often as possible.|
|18||The NPC has bad news to deliver to the character.|
|19||The NPC is keeping an item safe for the character.|
|20||Roll twice on this table and use both results, ignoring this result if it comes up a second time.|
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