Relationships and Bonds

Relationships and Bonds #

This subsystem defines ways in which characters’ relations to other characters, concepts, and factions and how they’re created, molded, and destroyed.

Relationship Types #

Games that use this subsystem can consider a few different kinds of relationships. A relationship is the broad definition that there’s a link between a character and another character, a group, or a concept. This can be positive or negative, or both, depending on the game and the situation.

Relationships with People #

The relationship between one character and another.


Examples #

Valiant Horizon #

These are the primary kinds of relationships: they’re typically between PCs and the friends and allies they meet along the way, as well as between PCs.

Machinations of Court and Frame #

This is used for both friends and enemies that you might see on the battlefield: basically any time you and someone else feel strongly about each other.

Relationships with Groups #

The relationship between a character and an overarching faction or group of people. (This frequently ties in with Factions.)


Examples #

Machinations of Court and Frame #

Faction relationships are used in conjunction with personal relationships to create tension between obligations and loyalty to power vs. other people in your position.

Relationships with Concepts #

The relations between a character and an ideology, concept, or code. (This frequently ties in with Reputation and Perception.)


Examples #

Machinations of Court and Frame #

Characters who are more motivated by an idea than allegiances engage with this rather than (or in addition to) with Faction relationships.

Bonds #

Bonds are the specific linkages that make up a Relationship. Typically, the number of Bonds on a Relationship determine its strength. They’re created when something meaningful has occurred to strengthen a relationship. A Bond is usually tied to a specific event or experience, either during the game or in the past. The number of Bonds is the main thing that

  • Bonds between a PC and another character could be the result of events like growing up together or having been friends or enemies during pivotal moments. If these bonds are established in game, they’re likely the result of the PC doing something meaningful for or to that character.
  • Bonds between a PC and a Faction are usually the result of exemplary service (or presence in something that damaged them greatly) or a recommendation/warning by someone the Faction trusts.
  • Bonds between a PC and a concept are usually times when that PC reinforced their devotion to the concept.

You can have up to 6 Bonds in a relationship. Instead of creating a Bond, if the relationship already has 6 Bonds, you can instead replace an older one with one that’s more meaningful. If a player and the GM agree that a situation is meaningful enough to create a bond, simply create one and add it to the relationship. If there’s some disagreement, roll a die and compare it to the current number of Bonds. If it’s higher, add the Bond to the relationship.

Examples #

Valiant Horizon #

A character’s sibling is an NPC. The player decides they have two Bonds: one from a time when they were small children, and another a time from when they were older.

Machinations of Court and Frame #

A pilot has three Relationships. One is to their best friend, another pilot from another House who went to the same academy (two Bonds: one for the first time they met, another for a time when the best friend stood up for them). Another Relationship concerns their House: they have one Bond concerning their loyalties.) The third Relationship is with the concept of Victory - the pilot is obsessed with a need to always win, and risked a friend’s life for it once.

The nature of the Relationship as a whole is defined by those Bonds, for better or for worse.

Using Relationships and Bonds #

Depending on the game, you can use these in a few ways.

Leveraging a Relationship #

When a PC wants to leverage a Relationship to influence the other party in the relationship, the PC should roll and use a die determined by the GM (typically Low for something that’s not much of an ask or that they would normally do anyway to High for something they wouldn’t do normally). Depending on the roll, determine how it goes:

  • If it’s lower than your number of Bonds, the result the PC would prefer happens.
  • If it’s equal, the result the PC would prefer happens, but with a twist or consequence.
  • If it’s higher and you have 2 or less Bonds, nothing happens.
  • If it’s higher and you have 3 or more Bonds, something happens, but it isn’t what the PC wants.

If the other party is another PC and the roll goes lower than the number of Bonds, the other PC has a few options:

  • Go along with the broad strokes of it to gain a bonus. If there’s a consequence or twist, the implementation is up to the influenced player.
  • Refuse entirely and take a penalty. If there’s a consequence or twist, the influenced player may choose to instead make it look like they’re going along with it.

Examples #

Machinations of Court and Frame #

When asking for aid from a Faction, or when trying to influence someone’s actions, you roll against your number of Bonds after the appropriate amount of time has passed to find out their answer. (Or the GM/other player rolls secretly, depending on your preference.)

When influencing another PC, if they go along with it, the bonus is +1 Escalation when carrying it out, or -1 Escalation if they refuse.

Prerequisites #

Having a certain number of Bonds with someone (or something) can also be a prerequisite to gaining certain capabilities.


Examples #

Valiant Horizon #

Relationships with NPCs and other PCs are how you gain other classes’ abilities.

Machinations of Court and Frame #

At 3 Bonds into a relationship with a Faction, you can use their mech models. At 5 Bonds with them, you can use their equipment in your custom models. (As noted, this is a quicker progression if your characters are part of that Faction.)

Leverage Other Subsystems #

Sometimes, it makes sense for Relationships to do other things as well, especially with regards to other subsystems.

Depending on your game, you could use the Relationship as if it were an Asset. (Recommended is 4-6 Bonds, or less if there’s a caveat involved.) You could also leverage Relationships in the various kinds of combat.

In situations like that in which the Faction subsystem is in play, players are sometimes subordinates of Factions, though it’s not strictly needed to use the system. Treat this as a Relationship, but a few things are different: First, PC members should gain some extra benefits from gaining Bonds in that relationship. This can be as simple as treating the Relationship as if it had a higher number of Bonds, or as complicated as gaining unique privileges. However, being a member of that Faction has downsides. They will usually expect something from you for your membership! (If not, then it’s not much of a Faction as such.)

Examples #

Valiant Horizon #

At 2 Bonds, you can use your Relationship like an Asset when doing something that would directly help or impact the other character. At 4 Bonds, you can use it like an Asset all the time. At 6 Bonds, one ally will fight by your side whenever you ask, no matter how physically far they should be: narratively, you and the GM can come up with a reason they’re there.

Machinations of Court and Frame #

At 3 Bonds, you can leverage your Relationship as an Asset when having the appropriate relationship with that person, faction, or ideology would make a difference, for better or worse.

At 2, 4, and 6 Bonds, you gain a Tell with an opponent you have a Relationship with. At 2 the Tell is their mech’s primary power, but at 4 and 6 it can be any Power, Standard, or non-Power Action they have. You can communicate these Tells to other characters, but depending on the circumstance, that may be cheating, or you might need to roll against your number of Bonds.

PCs who are members of a Faction (in this case, a noble House) treat their Bonds as double for the purposes of unlocking Asset use and mech access. (As such, they will effectively have full privileges at 3 Bonds.) However, PCs beholden to a House are required to work in that House’s interest. They’ll have to perform tasks as directed, recuse themselves from anything that would cause harm to that House, and answer for anything that causes harm indirectly. (Most missions are joint operations, so there’s some leeway on that front.)