Deep Connections

Those more used to games that service party building through mechanical reward or for which association comes through engineering selection, assigning members of the group as having prior contact, may appreciate something similar in Symbaroum. In truth, such association would not seem incompatible with the tenets of the setting, as the population of Ambria exists mainly in cramped urban locations or in colonies further afield where fewer folk rely heavily on the expertise and good will of one another.

Connections and Bonds

Making connections is something that can take place immediately during character generation, or it could have a more relaxed approach – akin to tales around the fireside (we’re back at The Promised Land again!). A character generated with three connections, of which the player only chose one at the outset, can uncover the deep dependencies of their existence through the course of play, exploring those associations when they matter most. Indeed, I would be tempted to consider spending a few moments in flashback, putting a little more meat on the bone – as such recollections can not only serve as a mechanical benefit, but also rich pickings for the GM.

The tables below can be used entirely at random, in which case each player rolls 2d6, of different colours, as many times as the number in the party minus 2. In a small party – with only three players – each character should have a single association with either one other character.

It’s important anything rolled on these tables slot within the ideas and concepts formed by the player, and also into the overarching campaign and setting background for the GM. No one should allow the dice to twist or break the background of the game; player and GM should collaborate to find a way to interpret the result of the roll, rather than seeking wisdom from the pull of a tarot card from the deck.

Feelings and History

Mechanically, Connection represents the association you have with an individual as a modifier to activity within the game. Narratively, a Connection can be good or bad and should represent something that has impacted you for which the target character has responsibility.

When you do something involving one of your listed connections, modify the roll by your Connection modifier.

For example, Xianthe got me blacklisted from the Mother Mehira’s [-1] means any interaction with Xianthe is soured by her behaviour and the way you never seem to get any jobs in Thistle Hold anymore.

At the end of each adventure (when the Experience gets handed out), assign a +1 and a -1 to associations experienced in the adventure. It would probably be a good idea to keep a note as you go along. The connections needs to be with someone living and influential – not just some nameless shopkeeper. You can adjust an existing modifier, but never higher or lower than a modifier of 3 (beyond that it becomes a lot more like rolling two dice and taking the best or worse result).

For example, your companion Kavorak stood up for you and defended your owner with the local elders, something that has not only improved people’s opinion of you but shown you the value of your friendship, so at the end of the adventure you increase the current connection of +2 to +3.

The modifier from a connection does not stack with other like modifiers (+ and +, or – and -). If you have a modifier for a roll and the Connection is less, use the original modifier. If you have a Connection bonus that is higher than the modifier for a roll, use the Connection. If you and a connection Flank an opponent, you get +2 on the roll or your Connection if it’s +3; you don’t get a +5 for flanking with a valued and dependable connection.

Connection modifiers only apply when you’re doing something collaboratively with or in clear act of assistance to the connection. If the connection isn’t around, they won’t affect your performance, for good or ill – unless something in the Scene has a strong association with them. For example, trying to get work at Mother Mehira’s could still be a problem even when Xianthe isn’t propping up the bar or hanging around the notice board.

Optional

To be clear, this is absolutely optional – and you should not use the modifiers if you feel they’ll unbalance the game. You can, however, still use the general notion of connections as a way to build bonds in your group of characters. You might choose to allow the connection to apply only outside combat; or perhaps you can only use the modifier once per Scene, maximum, providing other factors also apply (like the presence of the connection).

In addition, you as GM get final call on when a connection applies a Connection modifier. You should be clear and consistent, but the final call comes to you every time and you should not seek to allow players sway in setting that decision. By all means listen to their proposal for why a connection might matter, but do not feel compelled to agree if you genuinely sense no value or presence of that association in the scene or encounter.

And yes, I reserve the right to adjust this concept at any time once I’ve had the opportunity to test it.

1. Companion

1. _______________ traveled with me on an expedition.
2. _______________ knows more about _______________ than they let on, and it matters.
3. _______________ shares a spiritual bond with me because of _______________ .
4. I value few opinions in this world, and _______________ is one of them.
5. _______________ witnessed what I did and didn’t judge me.
6. _______________ could learn from me, as I could learn something from them.

2. Conflict

1. _______________ and I are sole survivors of _______________ .
2. I fought _______________ during _______________ but that changed everything.
3. We faced swords and hardship together when we defended _______________ .
4. _______________ rescued me and I owe them for it.
5. _______________ found me dying in a ditch and nursed me back to health.
6. When I need someone at my back, _______________ was there to cover me.

3. Friend

1. In the face of terrible odds _______________ stood by me to the end.
2. _______________ gave me the alibi when my reputation was on the line.
3. _______________ listened to and supported me when I _______________ .
4. I ignored what _______________ had done when they explained their story to me.
5. _______________ restored my faith in my fellows in the darkest times.
6. We both saw it, but we would never share that experience with anyone else.

4. Relative

1. _______________ is my _______________ twice removed.
2. When my family threw me out _______________ gave me security and a place to stay.
3. _______________ has always understood me and shares a common interest in _______________ .
4. My family told me to stay away from _______________ .
5. What success I have achieved has owed so much to _______________ ,
6. _______________ protects me because no one else would.

5. Reputation

1. Both _______________ and I have spent time in captivity in _______________ .
2. _______________ witnessed a criminal act against my _______________ .
3. _______________ both fascinates and disgusts me, and I haven’t worked out why.
4. Both _______________ and I have strong feelings/love for _______________ .
5. _______________ has expertise or knowledge in _______________ of great value to me.
6. _______________ refused to take credit for _______________ from which I benefited.

6. Service

1. _______________ shares the same strong beliefs I do.
2. _______________ fascinates me with such unwavering faith in the Old Ways.
3. _______________ helped me find my lost _______________ .
4. We served in peace time and conflict under the flag of _______________ .
5. Both _______________ and I worked for the same master in _______________ .
6. We both lost out on the deal when the scheme collapsed, but we had each other.

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