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Author Topic: Social connections in D&D  (Read 1638 times)

Vidgrip

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Re: Social connections in D&D
« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2021, 06:21:56 PM »
I'm currently prepping a D&D game using Adventures in Middle Earth. Although the setting has no mechanic for creating ties, they are a must-have for this sort of campaign. I have decided to proceed as follows:
1) I will tell players that during character creation, they must roll attributes in order. No rearranging.
2) If they don't like what they rolled, they may set that sheet aside, and try again. They may repeat this up to four times.
3) Every sheet they set aside is actually a sibling who also lives in the campaign area. The player has been rolling their family.

The homes of siblings become sanctuaries where the party can shelter and rest (an important mechanic in AiME since you can only take long rests in a sanctuary). During the campaign, certain towns and villages come under threat. Players may have family there to protect, a built-in reason to care about the advance of the Shadow. Siblings can also make quick, impromptu adventure hooks:
"Your brother with a Constitution of 4 has fallen ill again and needs healing herbs from the Withered Heath."
"Your sister with a 6 Wisdom has pledged herself to rotten scoundrel who may be an agent of the Enemy. Perhaps you should investigate."

Players could also bring a sibling along as a helper during an adventure, if they want to take the risk. A sibling might have significant skills that cover some area in which the party is lacking. I'm not sure how it will play out, but I'll give it a try.
Running: Crypts & Things,   Playing: John Carter of Mars

caldrail

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Re: Social connections in D&D
« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2021, 06:29:30 PM »
Excellent idea.

jhkim

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Re: Social connections in D&D
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2021, 08:55:31 PM »
I've always just left it to player preference. Within reason, you can be any social class you want and have the connections you want, as long as you still have the standard starting gear. Some of the 5e D&D Backgrounds like Acolyte do include 'social support' elements, the Noble background even includes retainers.

I'm fine with this and it works, but it does seem very limited compared to other games that I've played. For example, in one GURPS Fantasy campaign, I made an heir of a wealthy merchant family. That made a major material difference for him. First of all, he was rich and had top-notch equipment especially because his family were arms merchants. Further, he could call in favors with his or related families. (Status and Wealth advantages.)

The D&D approach is definitely designed for D&D!

I'm generally not keen on 'buying' social status, or military/professional rank - it results in having the top people be less competent than the bottom people, which tends not to be true IRL. I'd rather social status be free within whatever limits the campaign sets, and rank be derived partly from competency, not bought as an Advantage.  Usually it's easiest if either every PC is of similar social status, or else it's a setting (like standard D&D, or cinematic Old West) where social status does not matter much.

Overall, I'm trying for a game that is distinctly D&D, but is different than standard. It's should be a game where society and culture are important, not like cinematic wild-west where class doesn't matter. So I want to strike some sort of balance between how I've done things in other fantasy games and standard D&D. In the campaign, all the PCs do have similar status because they will all be recruited by royal authority for their work. So they will all be high status, but some may be slightly higher or slightly lower. Also, they'll have different connections because they're potentially from widely divergent backgrounds - since the empire is so vast. A respected chief from the southern desert will be treated differently than a scion of a noble family in the capital.

As for how to balance things:

1) I've also seen the problem of less competent leaders, so I'd like the "buying" to be things unrelated to general competence. This being D&D, all of the PCs would have roughly balanced attributes and personal abilities. But the extra options might include things like secret patrons, special items, helpful spirits, and the like.

2) On reflection, I might just have a unique set of Backgrounds for the setting - but where here the choices aren't just like standard choices. They'll have major advantages associated with them.

S'mon

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Re: Social connections in D&D
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2021, 11:02:21 PM »
1) I've also seen the problem of less competent leaders, so I'd like the "buying" to be things unrelated to general competence. This being D&D, all of the PCs would have roughly balanced attributes and personal abilities. But the extra options might include things like secret patrons, special items, helpful spirits, and the like.

2) On reflection, I might just have a unique set of Backgrounds for the setting - but where here the choices aren't just like standard choices. They'll have major advantages associated with them.

Sounds like a good approach to me. I like how flexible the 5e Backgrounds system is, & you can easily create a unique set tailored to your campaign, with built in social connections, and more impressive benefits than the default backgrounds. They can also be used to ensure that PCs start with campaign-important skill Proficiencies, eg in a campaign with lots of social interaction you can include Persuasion proficiency on most or all of the Backgrounds.