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Old 11-16-2017, 09:35 PM   #1
WaterAndWindSpirit
 
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Default How to implement Loyalty Missions in tabletop RPG?

Hello everyone!

So an idea I have absolutely loved in several computer RPGs are loyalty missions/companion side quests. You get to delve into the backstory of a friendly NPC and then learn about their personality some more and help them come to terms with... Whatever their problems are, and you get a nice in-game perk to represent their newfound focus/the growing bond between the two of you.

So I wanted to find a way to get that dynamic into tables I would GM for.

Imagining NPCs for me would be the easiest part. Now comes the hard part.

So, how do I make NPCs eligible for such quests and notify the players that they can undertake them? Also, how do I incite them to undertake such missions?

What types of perks are we looking at to make it worthwhile but not too overpowered?

I love GM'ing GURPS, but I'm open to more general ideas. :)

Thanks!
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Old 11-16-2017, 09:52 PM   #2
sir_pudding
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Default Re: How to implement Loyalty Missions in tabletop RPG?

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Originally Posted by WaterAndWindSpirit View Post
So, how do I make NPCs eligible for such quests
Make them be people with problems that the PCs can help solve and give them a sense of gratitude.
Quote:
and notify the players that they can undertake them?
"Oh its nothing. Well, if you must know, my father is in prison but that isn't important right now. About that book you are looking for.. "

"Yessir, that takes me back, twenty odd years ago, this was the fastest racing sloop in the Belt. I guess she'n'I both 'av seen better days. She could race again, though if I only 'ad the parts, ya'see... Well, son, what can I do ya fer?"

Quote:
Also, how do I incite them to undertake such missions?
I find that players will pick up the hooks that intersest them without much prodding, but disadvantages like Greed, Charitable, Lecherous, are pretty good sticks if you need them.
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What types of perks are we looking at to make it worthwhile but not too overpowered?
Ally, Contact or Patron, (possibly with Favor) seem like the obvious ones.
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Old 11-16-2017, 10:06 PM   #3
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Default Re: How to implement Loyalty Missions in tabletop RPG?

My experience with NPCs has been that I can't necessarily predict in advance which ones the PCs will adopt in that way. But from time to time they do adopt NPCs. So instead I try to take advantage of the adoption, by bringing up problems for the PCs to address. This is more of an improv approach, but it doesn't depend on my being able to program the players to do what I want, which is a case of "That trick never works!"
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Old 11-17-2017, 11:59 AM   #4
Anthony
 
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Default Re: How to implement Loyalty Missions in tabletop RPG?

In general 'loyalty' missions are just normal roleplaying in a tabletop game -- an ally, friend, or potential friend has a problem, you help them because that's the friendly thing to do, and they are then more positively disposed towards you (or more able to help, because they are no longer busy with that other thing).
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Old 11-17-2017, 02:53 PM   #5
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Default Re: How to implement Loyalty Missions in tabletop RPG?

What makes loyalty missions work best is that it features a character that you already know well and is part of your party. I would suggest that a classic loyalty mission is not given by an NPC, but by a PC: a member of the party.

If you just want to have NPC's stick around after the PC's complete a mission, that's another effect. And I don't think it makes things over powered unless the NPC starts dominating the game.
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Old 11-18-2017, 09:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: How to implement Loyalty Missions in tabletop RPG?

The question bumps into the question of what systems need mechanics in RPGs. The classic RPG has pages and pages of details for tactical combat, and blows off social interaction and conflict as "just roleplaying". Other designs try to have "social combat" systems where there are stats and mechanics controlling the resolution of those conflicts, and tracking the results. Say, when you burn up that NPCs Loyalty Points by inflicting Loyalty Damage via demands, you run some Loyalty Missions to heal the Loyalty Damage back so the NPC remains loyal. Some games even try to use the same mechanics for all sorts of conflict -- physical, mental, social, etc.

There's a lot of gray area when it comes to things like morale checks in physical combat (is it just roleplaying and player agency to decide to run away, or is that an adverse combat result that can be mechanically forced upon you, like dying or losing a hand?), or horror / fright checks (is fear and despair just roleplaying, like positive emotions?), or reaction rolls and bonuses for them.

Having a Loyalty stat that gets adjusted by the outcomes of Loyalty Missions, and presumably affects whether the NPC would be cooperative in other contexts, tends toward the mechanical end of the scale. GURPS tends toward the "just roleplay it" end of the scale.
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Old 11-18-2017, 10:11 AM   #7
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Default Re: How to implement Loyalty Missions in tabletop RPG?

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Having a Loyalty stat that gets adjusted by the outcomes of Loyalty Missions, and presumably affects whether the NPC would be cooperative in other contexts, tends toward the mechanical end of the scale. GURPS tends toward the "just roleplay it" end of the scale.
Actually, GURPS has game mechanics for much of that; I wrote a lot of it for GURPS Social Engineering. The key point of difference is that it doesn't have a formal concept of "loyalty missions." I'm not sure if this is something W&WS came up with, or if it comes from some other sort of gaming, but in either case I find it odd as a designated category.
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Old 11-18-2017, 11:27 AM   #8
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Default Re: How to implement Loyalty Missions in tabletop RPG?

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Actually, GURPS has game mechanics for much of that; I wrote a lot of it for GURPS Social Engineering. The key point of difference is that it doesn't have a formal concept of "loyalty missions." I'm not sure if this is something W&WS came up with, or if it comes from some other sort of gaming, but in either case I find it odd as a designated category.
"Loyalty Missions" are from videogame RPGs - the Fallout and Mass Effect series are most famous (infamous?) for this. In Fallout 4, for instance, you can take one Companion with you at a time, gathered from a number of places (Codsworth was your household robot back before the War, you meet Dogmeat on the way to Concord, you rescue Garvey from the museum in Concord, etc). With the exception of Dogmeat and his literal doglike loyalty, each companion has an Affinity stat that says how much they like and trust you. It starts off at or near zero; you can increase it by doing things they like, and decrease it by doing things they dislike. If you get their Affinity low enough, they'll leave you. On the other hand, get it high enough, and many of them will give you a Loyalty Mission. Once that's completed, you get a special perk.

For instance, Nick Valentine was a pre-War detective, whose mind was recorded as part of an experiment. Two hundred years later, the Institute tried to use the recording to animate their latest attempt at a human-like synth; it failed to meet their expectations, and the new Nick was literally discarded. When he trusts you enough, he'll tell you about Eddie Winter, the pre-War crime lord who managed to turn himself in an immortal irradiated Ghoul on purpose; Nick needs your help to track down the recordings scattered around the Commonwealth with a code to Eddie's location, so Nick can track Eddie down and get revenge for the gang's killing of his fiance, Jennifer Lands, just before the War. Completion gets you the Close to Metal perk, which means you never get locked out of computer terminals while trying to guess passwords.

Cait is a drug-addled pit fighter, who expects everyone to eventually betray and mistreat her. Gain her trust, and she'll ask for your help kicking all of her various addictions; there's a machine in a Vault that can clean her up, but she's going to need your help to get in there and then to operate the machine. (I don't remember the perk reward, but you can then pursue a Romance storyline with her if you like, and she's pretty easy on the eyes...)

Other companions (Codsworth, Garvey, Strong the supermutant, others) will gain Affinity simply by traveling with you and seeing you do things they approve of. (Codsworth likes helping people, wants to see you in charge, and approves of the Brotherhood of Steel. Garvey wants to make the Commonwealth safe. Strong values displays of strength, and disapproves of helping the "weak".) Like the questing companions, though, they do give you a perk when their Affinity hits the peak. Fortunately, once you've gotten the perk, you don't lose it, even if the Affinity drops again.
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Old 11-18-2017, 02:54 PM   #9
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Default Re: How to implement Loyalty Missions in tabletop RPG?

Part of the disconnect is that most tabletop games aren't single player with a bunch of NPC companions.
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Old 11-18-2017, 03:00 PM   #10
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Default Re: How to implement Loyalty Missions in tabletop RPG?

I'm going to say that normally, what you would acquire from helping someone out wouldn't be a Perk, but a Favor: A one-time use of an NPC relationship advantage (such as Allies, Contact, or Patron) at 1/5 cost.
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