Often in RPG’s the loyalty (or enmity) between characters and major NPC’s is overlooked. The impact of character friendships and rivalries often falls into the realm of how players role-play with each other but have no in game effect. The loyalty rules option can assist the GM in giving these relationships impact on the outcome of certain actions and events from a rules standpoint. This system is meant for GM’s to track and implement with the players not knowing their scores.
Each character starts with a base loyalty score of 0 towards each other and NPC’s. This loyalty is effected by several factors. Note that a characters loyalty to another can be very different than that characters loyalty towards them. GM’s may also apply these rules to NPC’s that are significant to their campaign.
For each part of a characters alignment that is the same as another characters, they receive a +1 to loyalty. For each step apart the characters are for both parts of character alignment they receive -1. In example, a pair of Lawful Good characters would both receive a +2 to loyalty due to the fact that are in tune as far as alignment, while a lawful good and a neutral good pair would start receive no bonus (+1 for good, -1 for the lawful / neutral difference.) Lawful good and chaotic evil, being opposite ends of the spectrum on both sides would both have a -4 loyalty (-2 for good / evil and -2 for lawful / chaotic.) This reflects the ease in which people of a similar outlook on life interact and the difficulties those of opposing views may face.
Characters of same class gain +1 loyalty as they recognize someone with similar skills. Comrades in arms (or magic) so to speak.
Character’s charisma score directly grants bonuses to the loyalty of the people they interact with. A character with a +2 charisma bonus would have the loyalty of other party members get a +2 to their loyalty to the character. Negatives to charisma decrease loyalty in the same manner. Let’s face it, attractive and / or personable people are easier to view in a positive manner.
Level achieved together
For every level a character gains while in an adventuring party with another character they receive a +1 to their loyalty to the other characters in the party. This bonus is not lost if a level is lost, but will not increase until the character progress past the last level this bonus was gained. The other characters do not have to be present when you level as long as they are considered part fo your adventuring party. Your party has helped you progress and your connection to them strengthens because of it.
Acts of loyalty/betrayal
In game actions may grant points of loyalty or take them away. These bonuses or negatives are to be determined by the GM by the severity of the act. Particularly heroic or evil actions could cause a characters loyalty to flip from positive to negative or vice versa even, but this should be only in extreme cases, (i.e. Bob the Paladin’s best friend and loyal companion attempts to sacrifice him to a demon.)
Sharing a religion provides +1 bonus to loyalty
Characters that work together to write a backstory may receive bonuses or negatives to their loyalty decided by the GM.
For the most part this system will grant average party members with positive loyalty scores to each other over the course of the game, as is appropriate with a group that travels and overcomes obstacles together will become more tight knit as time goes on. Actions that devious characters take behind the backs of other characters may make players seem to have better loyalty than is actually there. This is completely acceptable.
Effects of loyalty scores
Character loyalty will have 2 major in game effects and any number of small ones the GM may devise. The GM applies the bonuses or negatives after the characters report their rolls to him/her. The GM rules what actions the bonus or negative would apply to, not the players.
Bonuses/negatives to interactions
Characters with high loyalty towards each other are more likely to work well together while characters with negative loyalty will find it more difficult. For every +5 points of loyalty a character has with another character, they receive a +1 to d20 rolls when resolving actions directly related to assisting that character. This includes skill checks, assist rolls, attacks while flanking, and saving throws as appropriate (if a player with a high loyalty is charmed and commanded to attack another player, they receive an additional bonus to their save based on loyalty.) The inverse is true as well, for every -5 points of loyalty a character towards another they receive a -1 to d20 rolls when resolving actions directly related to assisting that character.
Character loyalties to each other affect how the death of other characters impact them. A character with a high loyalty to another character that dies will be greatly impacted by their death. For every +5 points of loyalty to the character that died, the character receives a +1 bonus to all die rolls when acting against the individual or direct group that caused the characters death. This effect remains until the character has avenged the character’s death, but does not extend to individuals beyond the encounter that caused the characters death (in other words, if it was a group of goblins that killed the character, the bonus would last against those goblins, not all goblins). Whether or not the character is avenged immediately, after the encounter in which the they die, the other character then suffers negatives due to the loss of a loyal companion. Other than acting directly to avenge the dead character, the other character suffers a -1 to all d20 rolls per +5 points of loyalty they had for the dead character for a number of days equal to the loyalty score they had for the dead character. The effects for this can be negated by a will save each day if the character chooses to attempt it. The saving throw is equal to the loyalty score character had for the dead character. Removes the penatly for 1 day, after which another save may be attempted. Failure means the penalty applies, and failure by more than 5 increases the penalty to -2 per +5 points of loyalty for the day as the character is overcome by emotion. This save is optional, the character can choose to suffer the penalty without attempting to save as well, but cannot change their mind if they have already rolled the save.
Characters with negative loyalty scores towards the character that died are much easier to resolve. These characters receive a +1 for every -5 loyalty to d20 rolls for a number of days equal their negative loyalty score (-5 equals 5 days) due to the happiness they are experiencing that the character has died.