Building Relationships

Building Relationships

Creating and improving relationships with characters, and quite possibly between personae, should be one of the central activities of personae in Kannagara. Given the design philosophy of the game, that means that we need rules for building a relationship.

I don’t want to introduce something completely new, so I will use the structure of the perspiration stage of the creation mechanics. For creation, the inspiration stage sets the target for the creation, and the effects of the completed work, but that is not necessary for building a relationship. The effect of the completed work is a 1 point improvement in the relationship, and the difficulty depends on the current state of the relationship.

The equivalent of an embodiment roll is a roll to actually do something for the character. Here, the number of dice rolled is determined by the skill necessary to perform the action. Even giving someone a gift requires adherence to the rules of etiquette, after all. The number of dice kept is determined by the nature of the action, and how effective it is likely to be. The action itself will normally be designed using the full creation rules, and other personae may help to design the action. In some cases, they may all be able to participate in carrying it out. In this case, the number of dice to be kept when performing the action to improve the relationship will be an important feature of the thing being created.

Going through this process once will generate progress towards improving the relationship, but it probably will not complete it in most cases. It normally takes more than one action to build a relationship with someone, unless you are aiming for a very weak and casual relationship. So, a level 1 relationship might be within the reach of a single roll, but that should not be expected for one at level 3.

The place of the revision rolls is taken by a roll to assess how the character has reacted to the action, which provides guidance on what the persona should do next. Here, the persona rolls something like empathy, a skill involved in assessing how people feel. The number of dice to be kept depends on how well-suited to the character the action was. This is not the same as the number of dice measuring how effective an action is likely to be in general. Something can be quite minor, but very well suited to someone, or a major undertaking, but not close to her interests.

Note that the actions performed to build the relationship do not need to succeed, although the rules do model the fact that things move more quickly if the actions go well. That is, the result of the roll to perform the action may not be high enough to count as success in the action, while still improving the relationship. This is because, in this context, it really is the thought that counts. Putting a lot of effort into doing something for someone does improve the relationship, even if you are not completely successful in your action. A dismal failure won’t help much, but that’s reflected by the lack of progress personae get if they roll badly.

If you are only aiming for a weak relationship, you do not need to understand the other person well, or adapt to them. This reflects reality. I don’t drink, but if someone buys me a bottle of wine as a gift, that will contribute to making me feel more positive towards her. On the other hand, if she is trying to build a deeper relationship, she needs to find out that I don’t drink. That is reflected in the rolls that take the place of revisions. If the action is well suited to the character, the total on the revision roll is likely to be high, allowing the personae to make fast progress towards a higher relationship target.

This suggests that there will be another stage, before the personae even design the actions they will perform. They will try to find out about the character, to respond to her likes and desires. That links in to the general rules for discovery, and so it is something I will come back to a bit later. First, I need to make the rules for building relationships a little more concrete.

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