Relationship Score?


Jade Regent


I just bought a Pathfinder AP volume (part 1 of Jade Reagent) in order to learn how these things are structured, and in the section that details the NPCs, it mentions Relationship Scores

What exactly are these and how to they work?

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The free Player's Guide for that AP, found here. Basically, a mechanics system for NPC romances, if you want one, otherwise you just, you know, roleplay that, as a part of this roleplaying game.


I'm toying with the idea of introducing a system like that, or just keeping it ruleless and roleplayed.


Wayyy too anime for me.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Troubleshooter wrote:
Wayyy too anime for me.

Romantic Relationships?

I don't see that as Anime exclusive, or a standard of Anime.


As a GM my party is almost half way through Frozen Shadows. I never used the relationship scores or the caravan rules and I am glad we didn't. My recommendation, use your judgement as a GM the game has enough rules as it is.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Your Fantasy game owes a lot to romance..


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The system basically takes the worst aspect of the relationship system of recent BioWare games ( give enoughpresents to NPCs who are diametrically opposed to your own personality and they suddenly will love you, no matter how badly yout treat them as a person ), without providing any of the character plot which actually was the interesting part of BioWare NPCs. Fail.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
magnuskn wrote:
The system basically takes the worst aspect of the relationship system of recent BioWare games ( give enoughpresents to NPCs who are diametrically opposed to your own personality and they suddenly will love you, no matter how badly yout treat them as a person ), without providing any of the character plot which actually was the interesting part of BioWare NPCs. Fail.

Basically my problem with it in a nutshell.


Or you know, you can use it as a guideline to see how the NPCs react to a PC chasing them at a certain point, without making yourself too much a slave of that system.

Liberty's Edge

We tried using it, and my players began obsessing over wringing out every possible plus for every possible NPC. It just got to be too monotonous, them describing to me every gift, every level, for every NPC.

I'm also nearly positive that more than one player took a peek at the NPC write-ups to know exactly what gifts and insults to bring to bear; the specificity of the knowledge (and the attempted subtlety in presenting it) was just too high.

Anyway, the roleplaying wasn't the problem ... they really did that, and continue to do it. But the minutiae just wasn't worth it, so I chucked it a couple of sessions ago. (My PCs are about to hit 7th level.)

I think a similar, leaner, less fiddly relationship system could work to encourage NPC interaction in an NPC-heavy adventure, especially for players who are reluctant to emerge from the shell otherwise, but this one, IMO, was a Fail.

(As an aside, I also redesigned the caravan combat system, which in JR3 is broken, broken, broken. JR3 is one of the worst-edited and playtested Paizo products I've seen, despite being a pretty decent adventure at its core.)


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magnuskn wrote:
The system basically takes the worst aspect of the relationship system of recent BioWare games ( give enoughpresents to NPCs who are diametrically opposed to your own personality and they suddenly will love you, no matter how badly yout treat them as a person ), without providing any of the character plot which actually was the interesting part of BioWare NPCs. Fail.

Uhm.. no. It doesn't work like that.

Yes, it is based on BioWare, especially as seen in the Dragon Age line.
Yes, you can gain from giving presents (see below)
No, you can't "buy" the friendship of someone opposed to you with "enough presents".
No, you can't treat them like dirt and expect them to stay your friend.
Yes, there are points in the AP where what you do can affect how the NPC reacts to you.

Relationships

  • You choose whether you want to have a relationship with the NPC.
  • You choose whether that relationship is a friendship, or a rivalry.
  • You can change the nature later, if you wish, though it will be less 'intense' at that point.. strong rivalry can become weak friendship, and vice-versa.
  • You can have multiple Relationships at once.
  • Relationships build over time (levels). You can add 1 to ONE Relationship each time you gain a level.
  • Events in the Adventure Path can affect your Relationship(s) (turn a friend into an enemy, turn an enemy into a friend, increase the intensity of your Relationship)

Presents

  • You may give a present ONCE per character level.
  • They only affect characters with whom you already have a Friendly/Romance type of relationship.
  • It must be the right kind of present (each NPC has a different set of three types that works for them); others won't make a difference.
  • It is not guaranteed to work; the higher your existing score, the more difficult it is to improve it more by giving a gift (the current score acts as the DC on a check). A very expensive present of the wrong type does nothing, while something inexpensive of the right type could have an effect.
  • If it does work, it improves by 1, perhaps 2 if you did really well.. on a scale that allows for "31 or more"
  • Your actions can cost you; if you say or do something opposed to the NPC's values, you can lose points. (Insults, like presents, require a check - Intimidation this time).
  • The GM can apply a modifier (bonus or penalty) to the check based on how well you role-play the gift-giving.

It is a reasonable system for GMs who may want a framework to use, or as Quatar suggested, guidelines. For GMs who are comfortable deciding such things with total role-play, it is optional -- go for it and have fun your way. It is, however, by no means as crass and simplistic as Magnuskn makes it sound.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

And Quantum and Jeff Wilder. So just that it is clear that I am not the only one highly dissatisfied with it.

And, sorry, but putting a "price" at the end for getting the NPC to love/hate you was the clincher in making me dislike the system. The reward should not be some bonus, which will make the power gaming player salivate, but rather the roleplaying aspect.

Fail system.

Shadow Lodge

Since my players don't know there's a mechanical benefit, even the power gamer is focusing on his one relationship for the fun of it. Having a gift every level or so works to keep the relationships in mind, and it's especially nice to hear players say things like, "that's really nice sake, I think Sandru would like it, so I'll take it as part of my share of the loot," when it's already been established that this character and Sandru have a nightly nightcap, sampling different alcohols from different regions or countries.

The thing that the relationship system does nicely, I think, is provide me as GM a quantifiable level for the relationship. I'd be tempted to jump too quickly to intimate friendship, so the system has slowed me down, and forced the relationships to build over time. As a result, the speeches that the NPCs gave on the Ritual of Stardust could be focused specifically towards the PCs they were closest to, deliberately snubbing the PCs that they had bad relationships with (for example). Sure, I could have done all that on my own, but the system made it much, much easier to quantify. Koya and L. are friends, almost fellows, so she'll talk about how L has become like a daughter to her, while K is only barely a friend, so Koya will talk about their "growing friendship."

In a system where Charisma is measured in numbers, regardless of how you role-play it, it is actually useful to have a mechanic to track the progress of a relationship.

Is it perfect? Nope. Have I made some changes? Sure, but they've been minor. I know there has been a lot of criticism of the system, and of the caravan system, but I'd recommend that anyone playing JR give both systems a try, for the first couple of books. If they're not working, you can adapt them and/or chuck them, but they do a lot to make the adventure path feel different, and to integrate two potentially peripheral elements (the NPCs and the caravan), which has made it feel, at least for my group, like a more immersive experience (because they have to actually think about their travel arrangements, and they think about the NPCs even when they're not around).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

And I would advise every GM to chuck the combat aspect of the caravan system at the very least. I'm working on a way to get the security check and morale check system translated to normal Pathfinder rules and then the only remaining aspect of the original system will be how many wagons are needed to provide sufficient provisions for the caravan to survive extended travel without civilization to rely upon.

The relationship system is also bad, for the reasons enumerated above. And to point out how what Doram is mentioning about "not advancing the romance too fast" can work against a good story, relying on the system can also easily turn into "not advancing the romance/relationship when it naturally should advance", so handle with care.

Liberty's Edge

Urath DM wrote:
You may give a present ONCE per character level.

While the wording for the Gifts/Insults entry is ambiguous when considered alone -- "You can give a gift or an insult to an NPC once per character level" -- when compared to other language in the section on improving relationships, this is not saying what you think it's saying.

You can give a gift (or insult) per level to each NPC.

The language in every other section is careful to spell out when it applies to one (and only one) NPC. E.g., "You gain a one-time +4 bonus to your Relationship Score with the NPC associated with your Campaign Trait" and "Every time you gain an experience level, you may increase your Relationship Score with one significant NPC."


Jeff Wilder wrote:
Urath DM wrote:
You may give a present ONCE per character level.

While the wording for the Gifts/Insults entry is ambiguous when considered alone -- "You can give a gift or an insult to an NPC once per character level" -- when compared to other language in the section on improving relationships, this is not saying what you think it's saying.

You can give a gift (or insult) per level to each NPC.

The language in every other section is careful to spell out when it applies to one (and only one) NPC. E.g., "You gain a one-time +4 bonus to your Relationship Score with the NPC associated with your Campaign Trait" and "Every time you gain an experience level, you may increase your Relationship Score with one significant NPC."

Yes, I understand that, and should have been clearer in my description. My point, however, remains that it is not as simple as just heap presents on the NPCs until they are forced to like you.

Liberty's Edge

Urath DM wrote:
My point, however, remains that it is not as simple as just heap presents on the NPCs until they are forced to like you.

Fair enough. For my part, though, it's not the "forcing them to like you" part -- if it were true -- that bothers me ... I wouldn't (and won't) mind when they and the NPCs are inseparable friends and/or lovers. Although I can see where magnuskn is coming from, not even the game mechanical rewards bother me.

It's the "heaping gifts on" part. My PCs are not power-gamers, generally speaking, but for whatever reason, they glommed onto the Relationship system and decided they must have every possible point, and that meant trying for every possible point, and that meant 24 gifts per level for them to describe shopping for, making, finding, presenting, rolling for, and blah blah blah.

I knew early on it's wasn't worth it for me, but they liked it so I continued until it became clear that they had peeked at the entries for the NPCs to make sure that their gift attempts weren't "wasted." That's when I pulled the plug.

If it's not un-fun for other GMs, I say use the Relationship system with my blessing. I honestly wish it weren't unfun for me.

(On the other hand, the brokenness of the caravan combat rules -- in JR3, because in JR2 they seemed fine -- is pretty much objective fact. Technically, I suppose, what's actually broken are the caravan encounters in JR3. The caravan combat rules in the Player's Guide aren't fantastic, and I honestly think I improved them with minimal effort, but they're usable.)


That sounds a bit like the concerns some GMs had with the Kingdom Building rules in Kingmaker -- that their PCs would exploit the loose nature of some of it and build abusive combinations that satisfied the letter of requirements while being completely inappropriate otherwise. In those threads, the advice given was along the lines of "as GM, you decide how much of the mechanics to share with the players.. tell them less if you think they will abuse the system". That's not the best advice if the rules are published in a free download (as much of the detail of the Kingdom Building rules were).

In both, it is way the players approach the system that is more of an issue. These light-weight sub-systems seem to expect a "reasonable buy-in" from the players .. a willingness not to abuse them. That's not always there, and the GM needs to adjust.

On the other hand, yes, the Caravan Combat rules just don't work "as-is". One suggestion that seemed to work for some was to make the Caravan's damage 1d6 per level. Simple, but effective for some. Others, and I think Magnuskn was one of them, got more satisfaction from simply running the Caravan Encounters as normal encounters.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That is correct. :)


Kvantum wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
The system basically takes the worst aspect of the relationship system of recent BioWare games ( give enoughpresents to NPCs who are diametrically opposed to your own personality and they suddenly will love you, no matter how badly yout treat them as a person ), without providing any of the character plot which actually was the interesting part of BioWare NPCs. Fail.
Basically my problem with it in a nutshell.

Add to that the problem that this system leads to high charisma = more XP gain. Why: With a high cha you start at a higher relationship score and it's easier for you to increase that score. Raising the score nets XP. With that we're back in early D&D where rogues got XP for gaining treasure.


That sounds like an interesting mechanic, to say the least.


Umbranus wrote:
Kvantum wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
The system basically takes the worst aspect of the relationship system of recent BioWare games ( give enoughpresents to NPCs who are diametrically opposed to your own personality and they suddenly will love you, no matter how badly yout treat them as a person ), without providing any of the character plot which actually was the interesting part of BioWare NPCs. Fail.
Basically my problem with it in a nutshell.
Add to that the problem that this system leads to high charisma = more XP gain. Why: With a high cha you start at a higher relationship score and it's easier for you to increase that score. Raising the score nets XP. With that we're back in early D&D where rogues got XP for gaining treasure.

It may get you there faster, but it is not like you continue to earn more xp every time you improve the relationship. There are three breakpoints, and when you reach that breakpoint, you gain XP. If you put the effort into improving a lot of relationships, you can get 600 XP per NPC + 600 XP (there's a bonus for the first time you reach each of the 3 breakpoints). At low levels, the first few may be significant, but over time, the value fades.

Having the higher Charisma will get you to the breakpoint faster, but you still only get credit once for each per NPC, and one bonus for each first.

I don't have a problem with giving XP if someone is willing to put in enough work on the relationships. Too many players think the only way to get XP is to kill things; I am all for rewarding OTHER actions.


Umbranus wrote:


Add to that the problem that this system leads to high charisma = more XP gain. Why: With a high cha you start at a higher relationship score and it's easier for you to increase that score. Raising the score nets XP. With that we're back in early D&D where rogues got XP for gaining treasure.

Except that isn't true. It has been clarified, by James Jacobs if I remember correctly, that the XP gain isn't for a single character but for the whole group.

So the only effect a high Charisma character has, is that the group as a whole will gain more XP.


Kijika wrote:
Umbranus wrote:


Add to that the problem that this system leads to high charisma = more XP gain. Why: With a high cha you start at a higher relationship score and it's easier for you to increase that score. Raising the score nets XP. With that we're back in early D&D where rogues got XP for gaining treasure.

Except that isn't true. It has been clarified, by James Jacobs if I remember correctly, that the XP gain isn't for a single character but for the whole group.

So the only effect a high Charisma character has, is that the group as a whole will gain more XP.

That Info should be in the Player's guide. Because there it very much reads as if it was personal XP.

Liberty's Edge

Umbranus wrote:
That Info should be in the Player's guide. Because there it very much reads as if it was personal XP.

It does, yeah. I think the developer said that, by default, as with anything in the rules, XP earned is for the group unless explicitly called out otherwise.

But I also assumed it was personal XP (which may have contributed to the problems I mention elsewhere with the system). The good news is that even awarding it as personal XP, it didn't unbalance things. My players progressed pretty evenly, with at most a one- or two-session gap in level-advancement. Doing it individually may contribute to the "grade grubbing," but it doesn't actually break anything mechanically.

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