Aug 31, 2017

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Character Bonds – a great RP mechanic from Dungeon World

Today I’d like to write one of the coolest mechanics in the Apokalypse Engine, which is the base rule set for games like Dungeon World, Monster of the Week and others.

They introduce a fun mechanic that allows you to connect your characters from the first session.

Each character has, depending on the class, a couple of relations to other characters. During character creation, each player takes one of these bonds, picks a player and asks him, if it is ok to use this Bond. They then figure out some rough details.

You don’t have to take a bond, and if the player you choose to bond with has to agree. Here are a few examples (taken from the Dungeon World setting):

Bard

  • This is not my first adventure with ____
  • _____ is often the butt of my jokes
  • _____ does not trust me, and with good reason
Cleric

  • _____ is in constant danger, I will keep them safe
  • I am working on converting ____ to my faith
Druid

  • ____ smells more like prey than a hunter
  • The spirits talked a bout a great danger that follows ____
  • ____ has tasted my blood, and I theirs. We are bound by it
Paladin

  • ____ is a brave soul, I have much to learn from them
  • ____’s misguided behavior endangers their very soul!
Thief

  • I stole something from ____
  • ____ and I have a con running
  • ____ knows incriminating details about be
Wizard

  • ____ is keeping an important secret from me.
  • ____ will play an important role in the events to come. I have foreseen it!

Players can also create their own bonds, if they want to.

You assign the bonds after character creation, when you present your PC to the party. The player will all introduce their Characters, and then you start rounds of choosing bonds. Joe the Bard could declare that he writes an epic ballad about Gundarr the Barbarian for example. If Gundarr agrees, Joe’s player would write this down on his character sheet. And then the next player chooses, and so on. Esp. with the more shady bonds, this alone will lead to fun interactions.

Once you think that a certain bond does no longer fit, you resolve it and can choose a new one (if you like).  This can also lead to some very interesting options. Let’s say there is a bond that Gundarr wants to protect Janine the Wizard. When Janine becomes a very powerful spellcaster, there are a couple of options: You can resolve the bond: Gundarr realises that Janine does not need protection anymore. Or he chooses to so, even if it’s not needed. Janine could take a new bond “I will prove to Gandarr, that I can solve my problems alone” or something similar.

In the Apokalypse Engine, playing your bonds gives you a bonus to your rolls when you enact them, and resolving them gives you experience at the end of a session.

I think they work well as just a roleplaying hook.

Dungeon World has become my system of choice for fantasy one-shots. If you’re looking for a rules-light system that is more like series like Supernatural or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, check out Monster of the Week, which uses the same rule system, but is set in the modern day and has character options that mimic those from your favorite TV series.

If you want to know more about Dungeon World, check out http://www.dungeon-world.com/

Monster of the week can be found at https://www.evilhat.com/home/monster-of-the-week/

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