Each Lead that you play exists in a rich and intense setting full of other interesting and unique characters. Leads don’t exist in a bubble—their lives are touched by the Features and Extras they interact with. Rather than simply noting that your Lead has connections with other nonplayer characters and leaving it at that, Dramatic Roleplaying uses these connections as part of the system as well as the stories.
These connections are called Relationships, and they’re a Trait you use whenever you’re rolling your dice. Relationships are so important that they’re core to every roll you make. Every passionate, daring, or powerful action your Lead takes in the stories you tell is in part motivated by the people your Lead loves, hates, admires, or cannot forget.
During character creation, you’ll be asked to create Relationships with Features, Extras, and other Leads. As part of the character creation process, these Relationships will have step dice assigned to them just like Values. The Leads in your game will have different numbers of Relationships depending on how you each progress through character creation.
Also like Values, each Relationship needs a statement that goes along with it. Your Relationship statements help you remember how you feel about the Feature or Extra, as well as giving you another thing to challenge as the story progresses.
Relationship statements should be intense, like Value statements, and reflect a character’s feelings for another. Features have Relationship statements about each other and about the Leads as well. (Example: I’d cut the stars out of the sky for SALLY.)
Like Value statements, Relationship statements should not be absolute or generic, as they are things that can and will change along with the story. (Good Example: LUCY is my pet project this summer vacation. Bad Example: PHIL’s my brother.)
Relationship statements don’t have to be positive. Hate and other strong negative emotions can be every bit as empowering as positive Relationships. (Example: What I do, I do to spite my STEPFATHER.)
Not all Relationships are with individual people—you may have a similar Relationship with a group of people or an organization, which can be represented as a Faction. If you needed to have a Relationship with every member of the POLICE DEPARTMENT or with the SECRET SOCIETY, you’d have a lot of redundant Relationships rated with very low dice. Instead, you can have a Relationship with a Faction, which you roll any time you’re interacting with the interchangeable members of the group or organization.
If one member becomes differentiated in some way, you can use that to challenge your Relationship with the group, and you may want to add a new Relationship if this character starts to become important to your Lead.
Factions can also be used as Resources. Maybe the SMUGGLING NETWORK is a great source of information for you. Groups of people acting as a Resource are treated exactly like any other Resource. You give them two specialties and recognize that they’re a limited resource. When you use up their dice, as with any other Resource, it means you’ve exhausted your connection with them for a while.
Whenever you’re in a situation where the statement for one of your particular Relationships is inappropriate, in doubt, or flat out wrong, you can choose to challenge that statement. You decide that this situation may change your character’s views, so you’re calling into question the statement that defines your Lead’s Relationship.
For example, if you have a Relationship called JASON would never let me down D8, and someone gives you evidence that Jason has betrayed you, you could challenge that Relationship.
Challenging a statement gives you triple the die value of that Trait in that Contest or Test. So, in the above two examples, you’d get 3d8 or 3d6 respectively to roll as part of your dice pool. You also get to add an extra point to your Reflection pool.
Regardless of what else happens, at the end of that scene, you step back the Relationship by one step for the rest of the session. Your convictions have been challenged, so you can’t get your usual benefit from that Trait while your character remains uncertain. You can challenge a Relationship multiple times during an episode, reducing the Traits by one step each time. If the Trait would be reduced below a d4, you take the Trait off the table and cannot use it until the next session.
Keep a tally of how many times you challange your Relationships because at the end of the session you’ll get those step back. At the end of a session you can increase any Relationship, challenged or not. If the Relationship was Challenged you admit that you were wrong and re-write your Statement. If the Relationship was not Challenged you are assured in your Statement and don’t re-write it.
To Challenge a Relationship, you:
- Declare the challenge.
- Add a point to your Reflection pool.
- Roll triple the die rating you currently have in this Relationship.
- Step the challenged Relationship back one die for the remainder of the episode.
When you wish to take an action that’s aligned with your Relationship statement for that Lead or Feature, you can enforce your Relationship and mark down a point in your Reflection pool. This moment has to be one of absolute truth for the statement.
To Enforce a Relationship, you:
- Declare the enforcement.
- Add a point to your Reflection pool.