Well, really the difference between someone who is significant to the situation and someone who is powerful and plays a large role is pretty subjective. You'd have a hard time graphing it. So, they're rough guidelines for the purposes of generating color.
If two players buy different relationships with the same NPC, I'd ask them to justify why it's appropriate first. Off the top of my head, it suggests that the they have different views of this NPC and he/she has figured in their lives differently, has had different impacts on their individual BITs.
The first step is justify it with fiction, but I'd err on the side of building an interesting and nuanced situation.
Last edited by noclue; 07-08-2011 at 07:19 PM.
Zelbinian, for what it's worth, I would interpret the rules as you did.
Funny thing, this whole debate came from the game I ran at Go Play NW but I was completely oblivious to the controversy as it all happened during character prep, online, without me!
I guess my house rules (should I ever need them) are "if you're picking an existing NPC, ask me what their importance level is. If you're picking an NPC that another player just created, you're stuck with the importance level they picked."
How about the context of the relationship?
Somebody might have a 5 point relationship with Peter Parker - maybe a coworker or friend or something.
Meanwhile, Mary Jane Parker has a 15 point relationship with Peter Parker/Spiderman.
The difference is what you can call on them for. Remember, when you have a Relationship, it's kind of like saying "yes" to a Circles test to find that person. You can just access them. So now, the question becomes what you can access, when you can access it, and where you need to be to do that.
So someone might have a 5 point relationship with their uncle, Savo the wizard. Someone else might have a 10 point relationship with Savo the Unmaker, the Scourge of [Proper Noun]. Same person, but one player knows more than the other does and can access different favors.
-Peter. Or Pete. Or Hey Asshole. Whatever works.
But there's no difference in those Relationships, even though they describe different relationships. So they cost the same.
You can't buy a Relationship that's like "Savo the Unmaker returns my phone calls, plus he owes me crazy favors" or "Savo the Unmaker returns my phone calls but he really just wants me to go away." Buying a relationship is saying "Savo the Unmaker returns my phone calls," and that's it. Everything else is down to the fiction, and to other tests (persuasion, resources, whatever). When you buy a relationship, what you're buying is the right to bring Person X into play without testing Circles. If you want them to come into play owing you favors, buy a rep as "Drug Dealer to the Stars" and take "Sordid-History-wise" and Extortion.
You can also just say "Savo the Unmaker is dodging my phone calls because he owes me crazy favors." That's NOT a relationship (because you'd need to find him to call in those favors) but is equally legitimate in terms of what favors are owed. By which I mean "not legitimate at all," because whatever you say about your dude and his favor-bank is just you talking. Relationship or no relationship, you aren't actually owed any favors that didn't come out of dice hitting the table.
It costs more to have the President return your calls than it does to have a dentist return your calls. Being the President's forbidden lover makes it cheaper, because it puts into the fiction some problems that now you have.
I didn't expound on the Peter Parker example, but I will now to demonstrate my point:But there's no difference in those Relationships, even though they describe different relationships. So they cost the same.
The Minor relationship with Peter Parker means that you know that person as Peter Parker, photographer and all-around nice guy. In the game fiction, he's not much of anything. You can call on him for stuff related to how you know him, but you can't call on him for big things. "Hey, I know a guy who's great at taking pictures. His name is Peter, and he's a nice guy all-around."
The Major relationship is what Mary Jane has. She knows everything about Peter Parker and his role as Spiderman, and the double life that he leads. She can invoke him to save her bacon pretty much at will - it happens all the time in the comics. Mary Jane can actually make Spiderman appear and have him do ridiculous Spiderman things.
The way you define the context of the relationship effectively makes him a different person. It's easiest with a superhero that has an alter-ego; you can take a relationship with the superhero (who is extremely important to the setting) or you can take a relationship with the alter-ego (who is of varying importance to the setting, but usually less than the superhero).
Think of it like this: your significant other and your coworkers both have relationships with you. You treat those two groups of people differently. You'll extend yourself to your significant other more than you will your coworkers. You probably don't talk to your coworkers the same way you talk to your SO.
For all intents and purposes, you are a different person to your coworkers than you are to your SO. How many times have you seen someone outside of work and said, "Wow, they're totally different outside of the office." That's how relationships with other humans work; we categorize each other and limit our interactions based on the context of our relationships and what we want from those relationships.
This is perfectly reflected in the mechanics. Taking a Minor relationship with a character that someone else has a Major relationship with means you know them as a different person. They think about you differently and are willing to do different things for the different relationships.
-Peter. Or Pete. Or Hey Asshole. Whatever works.
For the record. I think this discussion is very interesting.
I don't have an opinion either way.
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If I take a minor relationship with Peter Parker, I can use that relationship to bring him into play and then bust out a Persuasion test with the intent of telling him about some heinous situation so that he will go all Spiderman and save my bacon. I can do this even if my character doesn't know he's Spiderman. (I'd need some reason to be telling Peter about said heinous situation, but he's a journalist and might want to know for that reason, plus he's a friend of mine so I could be complaining just to get it off my chest). Nothing mechanical prevents this from happening.
If you take a major relationship with Spiderman, you can invoke that relationship and the GM can shut you down with "Sorry dude, Spidey's busy." You can invoke that relationship and have Peter screen your calls, and when you finally track him down he tells you it's just not working, he doesn't feel like your friend so much as your bodyguard.
Major and minor relationships are mechanically identical in play. The only mechanical advantage a relationship gives you is the right to skip a Circles test to find your NPC. The complete list of mechanical differences between major and minor relationships is as follows: 1. Major relationships cost more points. 2. Minor relationships cost less points.
Now, with that said, actual real secret identities are a poor example because they might need special rules. It might be legit to say "You can take Peter Parker as a minor relationship, or Spiderman as a major, or if you know them both that's a major as well."
Okay, but the fact that you bought me as a relationship doesn't have anything to do with how I treat you or whether I'll do you a favor. I can buy a relationship with a dude who just totally hates me. That's absolutely appropriate if he's someone I can bring into play. The question you need to be asking to find out if we have a relationship, in the BW sense, is "Can I get ahold of this guy when I need him?" and not "Will he help?"Think of it like this: your significant other and your coworkers both have relationships with you. You treat those two groups of people differently. You'll extend yourself to your significant other more than you will your coworkers. You probably don't talk to your coworkers the same way you talk to your SO.
There are people I know I could count on to get rid of a body for me. There are a few people I know I could count on to get rid of a body for me if they happened to be around at the time. In spite of the great love we bear for each other, those people are not BW relationships. And there are some folks that really, I'm not that fond of, but we run in the same circles and I know I could get in touch if I needed (but we ain't really friends so I rarely do). Those people are BW relationships.
You are pointing at some important differences in small-r relationships. They just aren't reflected in big-R Relationship mechanics. Likewise, there's an important difference between someone who learned Rule of Law in law school by studying, and someone who learned it by getting arrested a lot. They'll have different traits, different wises, and so on. But the obstacles for the Rule of Law skill itself remain the same for both of them.
This is it exactly. How close are you to your Relationship? What's it like? Do you two get together every weekend or just on holidays? This is not what the RP's is about. This is what you narrate in the fiction and support with BITs and other mechanical paraphernalia. What you're paying with RP's is how important is this NPC to the setting. This certainly has implication for how you roleplay it which you can modify via the Relationship modification rules at the end of the section in the character burner, but your initial buy in reference to the NPC's "rating" is in relation to the setting. The fact that the NPC is officially a Relationship with you automagically indicates that the NPC is always within reach; you two are on a first name basis.Originally Posted by zabieru
For instance, I happen to be on a first name basis with the mayor of Seattle. If the setting was in Seattle, the GM would rightly charge me 15 rp's for that Relationship. And if I really wanted to, I could get in touch with the mayor at any given time I wanted, and he would respond. That part is covered mechanically by BW Relationships. How would he respond? And to what requests? That is not governed mechanically. That's governed by the fiction you create at the table (but potentially arbitrated by dice rolls).