Send comments and/or criticism to Simon E. Phipp
Created On 26 January 2003
Last Updated On 26 January 2003
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 2003

Someone said that HeroWars "roleplays the combat and rolls dice for the roleplaying" which is a little unfair, but I see what he meant. HeroWars has successfully quantified some aspects of roleplaying that were previously ignored in RuneQuest. One of these areas is that of Relationships. Usually these are roleplayed as a series of interactions between PCs and the relevant NPCs with the occasional roll of a skill such as Fast Talk, Bargain or Orate. This sometimes works really well, but puts a lot of pressure on GMs who have to decide the bonuses/penalties that are needed for these interactions. It also causes problems when decisions are disputed by players.

I can see a good case for introducing Relationships in a similar form to those in HeroWars, specifically to solve the problem of interacting with NPC groups or organizations. It is not meant to replace roleplaying but to give the GM a structure within which he can quantify interoganisational relationships.

There are different types of Relationships, but all can be used in the same way. The more common types are Friend of (), Member of (), Enemy of (), ()Friend, () Slayer, HeroQuest Ally of () and HeroQuest Enemy of (). So, Kalvar Cowtaker might have Relationships of  Member of Orlanth Adventurous Cult 60%, Friend of Mabor 60%, Friend of Trog 40%, Troll Friend 35%, Member of Elf Raider Gang 70%, Enemy of Tortan Greenbow 60%, Elf Slayer 55%, Member of Broken Wind Temple 25%, Member of Blueberry Clan 60%, Member of Rainbow Berry Tribe 50% and Enemy of Blackberry Clan 50%. Just by looking at his list of Relationships, one can get a good idea of how he will interact with NPCs.

Gaining Relationships

Relationships are gained when the character performs an act that would reasonably result in a Relationship Tie, or if another person performs an act that would reasonably result in a Relationship Tie with the character. If this seems vague then that's because it is meant to be. Relationships are flexible, not rigid rules to lock characters into certain modes of thought and action.

Typical ways to gain a Relationship are - joining a cult, belonging to a clan or tribe, joining a gang or band, joining a mercenary group or regiment, worshipping at a temple, being someone's friend, saving someone's life, attacking someone's clan or thwarting someone's plans.

Relationships are normally gained at 25%, but in exceptional circumstances they can be gained at a higher chance.

Increasing/Decreasing Relationships

Relationships can be increased or decreased in many different ways. Being a Member of an organisation and being promoted gives a +10 in Member of (Organisation), so Kalvar joined Orlanth Adventurous as a Lay Member as a child, gaining Member of Orlanth Adventurous Cult at 25%, he became an Initiate and Wind Lord to have Member of Orlanth Adventurous Cult 45%. He further increased his tie by performing HeroQuests.

Relationships can normally not be increased by training or by successfully using the Relationship as they are not skills as such, merely a game mechanic to model the effects of having relationships. Instead, performing certain acts may result in an Experience Tick that may then increase the Relationship by 1D6 if the normal rules on increasing skills by experience are followed.

HeroQuesting or performing services for the organisation can give an Experience Tick for the Relationship to the organisation, as does committing an atrocity against someone you are an Enemy of or Slayer of, saving the life of a Friend or of a Friend's family, continually foiling an Enemy's plans or killing an Enemy's family or friends.

Relationships can be easily reduced by performing actions against the spirit of the relationship. So, someone with Friend of Alan who hurts one of Alan's friends or family may well see his Friend of Alan relationship reduced by 1D6.

Changing and Losing Relationships

Relationships can be lost or changed. This happens through the actions of the character or through the actions of others. Sometimes when a Relationship is lost it is simply crossed off the character sheet. Sometimes it is changed to related Relationship at the same chance. Sometimes a new Relationship is gained at 25%.

As a general rule, someone who leaves an organisation on good terms can change Member of to Friend of and keeps the same chance. Someone who is thrown out of the organisation in disgrace just loses the Relationship. Someone who is thrown out of the organisation and then actively opposes the organisation gains Enemy of at the same chance as the original Member of tie. Becoming a temporary exile normally means the character can leave on good terms and return afterwards, whereas being outlawed means the loss of the Relationship.

For example, Kalvar steals one cow too many and is exiled from the Blueberry Clan for one year. Since he is still on good terms with the Clan he changes his Member of Blueberry Clan 60% to Friend of Blueberry Clan 60%. If he stayed away for a year and then came back, he could change Friend of Blueberry Clan 60% to Member of Blueberry Clan 60%. However, half way through his exile period, he returns and abducts the daughter of the Clan Chieftain, so his Friend of Blueberry Clan 60% becomes Enemy of Blueberry Clan 60%. He is still a Member of the Rainbow Berry Tribe until he is outlawed at the Tribal Council at the request of the Blueberry Clan Chieftain, so he loses his Relationship to the Rainbow Berry Tribe.

Using Relationships

Relationships are used when a character wants to interact with someone or against someone with whom he has a Relationship. Normally, this is when he wants something, but it is quite often used when the GM wants to know how people feel about the character.

The player must make a roll of the appropriate Relationship + Difficulty Rating + Relevant Skill Bonus +/- Relevant Relationship Bonuses/Penalties +/- Situation Bonuses/Penalties on 1D100. A table of results and interpretations follow.

Result of Roll Interpretation
Critical As special but character may get all the help he requires
Special As success but character gets some extra help or extra benefit without asking
Success Request has been approved, character is looked on favourably
Failure Request has been turned down, character is looked on unfavourably
Fumble Request has been turned down categorically and finally, character is looked on very unfavourably, Relationship may be adversely affected


Difficulty Rating

Some tasks are granted more easily than others, so each request is given a Difficulty Rating that acts as a bonus or penalty to the Relationship. Sample bonuses/penalties are given in the following table.
Task Bonus/Penalty
Room and Board + 40
New Clothing/Equipment + 20
Hiding From Enemies + 10
Protection From Enemies - 10
Fight Against Enemies - 20
Help From One Person + 10
Help From a Handful of People - 10
Help From Entire Clan - 40
Pass Through Clan Lands + 10
Settle in Clan Lands - 20


Relevant Skill Bonus

Sometimes the character might want to use a particular skill in order to increase his chances. As a rule of thumb, add + 5% for skills between 50-89% and + 10% for skills of 90% or more. Skills below 50% do not receive a Skill Bonus. Only one skill may be used to gain a skill bonus.

Relevant Relationship Bonuses/Penalties

Sometimes a character's other Relationships have an impact on what he wants to do. In this case the character gate s bonus/penalty of +/-5% for Relevant Relationships 0-49% and +/-10% for Relationships 51%+. More than one Relationship may give a bonus or penalty.

For instance, Kalvar is riding through the Greenberry Clan lands when he is stopped by the warriors of the Greenberry Clan. He uses his Fast Talk to explain how he has lost his way and only wants to travel through to the next Clan area. As the Greenberry Clan are enemies of the Blackberry Clan, he uses his Enemy of Blackberry Clan Relationship. However, the GM rules that he has a -10 penalty (Member of Elf Raider Gang) and -10 (Elf Slayer).

Situation Bonuses/Penalties

Some situations are better than others when asking for help or making an impact on others. This means the character gets a penalty or bonus depending on the situation. Some examples are found below.
Situation Bonus/Penalty
Passing Through Clan Territory - 10
Trespassing on Clan Territory - 20
Raiding Clan Territory - 40
Diplomatic Mission + 20
Friendly Visit + 10
Good Story + 5 to + 20
Bribe + 5 to + 20

So, Kalvar is riding through the Greenberry Clan lands when he is stopped by the warriors of the Greenberry Clan. He uses his Fast Talk to explain how he has lost his way and only wants to travel through to the Redberry Clan lands. As the Greenberry Clan are enemies of the Blackberry Clan, he uses his Enemy of Blackberry Clan Relationship. The Difficulty Rating is + 10. His Fast Talk is 80, giving him a Skill Bonus of + 10. The GM rules that he has a -10 penalty (Member of Elf Raider Gang) and -10 (Elf Slayer), his Situation Bonus is + 10 (-10 for Passing through Clan Territory, + 10 for a Good Story and + 10 for the bribe). His chance of success is 50 + 10 + 5 -20 + 10 = 55%. He rolls a 60 and fails, so the warriors take him to their Clan Chieftain who is a Friend of Mabar as well. When he explains his situation, Kalvar gets a 10% bonus as a Friend of Mabar which brings his chance to 65%, he rolls 63 and succeeds so he can pass through the Greenberry Clan lands without problems.

Later that day, Kalvar rides into a Redberry Clan village and stops for the night. The local women look at him to see what he is like. The Redberry Clan is an Enemy of the Blackberry Clan, so he can use Enemy of Blackberry Clan as his base chance. He is a member of the Orlanth Adventurous Cult (+10), Troll Friend (+5), Elf Slayer (+10), he is handsome (+10), is on a friendly visit (+10) and tells a good story to make them laugh (+10), giving him a 60 + 10 + 5 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 = 115%. He rolls a 6 - a critical and the ladies are very impressed with him, so he is guaranteed a pleasant place to sleep for the night.

Organizations as NPCs

As Relationships are included in character descriptions, this allows for descriptions of clans or other organizations to be written up with Relationships. This has several advantages to a GM and to players. First, it takes out the guesswork in how members of a clan will react to strangers. Second it allows the players to interact with clans more easily. Third, it allows GMs to run inter-clan activity without fudging things.

So, a Clan Description may include the clan Relationships as well as other characteristics of the Clan, including the protective spirit, headquarters and centres of power.

For instance, the above clans might be described as follows:

Blueberry Clan
Religion: Orlanth and Ernalda
Enemy of Blackberry Clan 70%
Member of Rainbowberry Tribe 40%
Member of Broken Wind Temple 25%

Blackberry Clan
Religion: Humakt
Member of Rainbowberry Tribe 30%
Troll Slayer 25%
Elf Slayer 25%
Enemy of Blueberry Clan 40%
Enemy of Greenberry Clan 35%
Enemy of Redberry Clan 35%

Greenberry Clan
Religion: Barntar and Ernalda/Aldrya
Member of Rainbowberry Tribe 60%
Elf Friend 30%
Enemy of Elf Raider Gang 40%
Enemy of Blackberry Clan 60%
Friend of Greenbow Defenders 30%

Redberry Clan
Religion: Orlanth and Ernalda
Member of Rainbowberry Tribe 50%
Troll Friend 30%
Enemy of Aldryami 40%
Enemy of Blackberry Clan 60%
Member of Broken Wind Temple 35%
HeroQuest Ally of Stem Breakers 55%
HeroQuest Foes of Tortan Greenbow 30%

These are merely sketch rules for the running of clan relationships. I intend at some point to come up with better rules for inter-clan interaction. These will include a sample clan character sheet to describe a clan's wealth, people, religions and relationships.