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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    biggrin Fun with backstories - Homebrewing additional backstory ties for your players.

    Hey all, hope youīre well. Thought Iīd amuse you with a bit of story of my own.

    Starting a D&D 4E group - 5 players, ranging from level 5 to 10. Have a few weeks to prep a Nentir Vale Style game, so I am homebrewing a bit. Basically one of my ideas is to tie minor mechnical benefits and disadvantages to the backstory, since 4E is already quite mechanical. (This particular idea might help me solve player engagement with their characters and backstory. Usually my group never cares about those much)

    Thought itīd be fun to start of my players with additional background ties called "Fatebinds". They are basically something you implement and weave into your backstory. And this is how I imagined it working.

    1) I present the titles of those "Fatebinds" to them - basically a piece of paper with the bind on it, only the title is readable until they unfold it. They may pick exactly ONE of them, exclusively. They may reject that binding after reading it, or they may accept it, but they canīt pick another one.
    2) When they reject a binding and somebody else rejects theirs as well, they may swap their bindings and reject or accept.
    3) Fatebinding draw period is over. Anyone rejecting everything starts of with no Fatebinds. Which is fine. :)

    I also asked my players to name me three locations, occurences, factions, whatever you name it, to integrate into my campaing. That could be a city they were born in, a battle they fought in, or a deciding event whicht they partook in. I will integrate those into my map and expand it as they discover and explore.

    These are the fatebinds I came up with so far:

    My father is a villain

    Fatebound influence on the world:
    - 10 to hit vs. your father in combat, which reduces by -2 per encounter.
    Until that malus hasnīt reached 0:
    1) you cannot chose to not let your father escape, should the opportunity arise.
    2) Your father gains the encounter power:
    Switchero: Switch any two heroīs positions with each other. Shift all heroes by 5. Hold a dramatic conversation. End combat.

    Benefit: You own several estates, left behind by the ill gotten riches of your father. Those estates are managed by a couple of loyal acumenators and are staffed by servants. You determine the locations of those estates as you see fit, but they must be close to a major neutral or friendly settlement. You have minor influence over the employees and surrounding areas.

    Note the location of your estates on this card as you determine their location over time:

    My mother is a diplomat... sorta
    Fatebound influence on the world:
    The GM can:
    5 times impose a diplomatic penalty against your group as part of an information expose the opposing neotiating faction has about you and your mother. This can range from a simple malus to your diplomacy check to a total disruption of your relationship to another party until the "misapprehension" is cleared up.
    2 times "reveal" your position to an enemy faction due to your notority

    You can engage the information service of your local consulate as a "favour" to your mother, she wonīt mind using state resources for personal benefit. Also the state wonīt mind, since they owe her big time, however you are unclear about the exact nature of the favours in question.

    You can invite and host public delegations or private parties in relative security and comfort, without being extravagant.

    Innocent Soul
    Ha, fooled you! Itīs just a name for being in league with a devil, but the others wonīt know, since you are so "in, no, cent", haha.

    You struck a bargain with a major devil in return for personal power.


    Summon a minor Devil as an encounter power, your DM has the stats. The appearance of the devil is that of a black-leather clad stud or gal of your race, with a whip or sword. The Gal is ice cold, the stud hot headed and polyamourous. Both flaunt their physical beauty.

    Mark every round the Devil is summoned here on this card.

    Fatebound influence on the world:

    Your GM can for every round summoned randomly in fights do one of the following things:
    ON teleport powers: Delay arrival by one turn.
    On Second wind: Gain the same amount of hitpoints to an enemy of yours
    Make you play a minor trick on your allies as a sense of overabundant SCHABERNACK comes over you. Hey, Devils need amusement just as much as you do!
    On Shift, Push or pull powers: Reduce all those effects by one.

    Your GM may randomly void accrued rounds from this card if you roleplay the Devil pact well, in whatever way possible. Be it brooding or pragmatical in your interaction with the group or the party involving this topic.

    Twin Brother/Sister is a big goddamn hero
    Your sibling is a big goddamn hero and he or she has your looks.

    Fatebound influence on the world:
    1) The GM can, in minor and major settlements, have you mistaken for your sibling, since you have almost lifed your entire life in the shadows of his or her glory, bringing you into all sorts of trouble.

    2) Crippling anxiety in public appearances and fights: Incur a minor penalty to your public appearances or deny combat advantage due to selfdoubt, maximum once per fight or public appearance.

    Discard any and all negative impacts when you managed to forge a name for yourself. This should have you at least half of the time trying to take charge of party decisions and influence your party to your will. You may roleplay it as professional or as hotheaded brash, always trying to live up to the ideal of your sibling. The benfit stays though.

    Benefit: You can draw on the strength of that ideal or even try to imposter your sibling themself when rallying people or your group – this should be a desperate attempt and not simply a combat boost. Give a short speech and your allies gain temporary hitpoints equal to your level.

    Subtance abuser

    Itīs not bad, if I do it to help myself, is it? I mean, how harmful could a random unclassified subtance really be? Have you ever seen someone die from ingesting a broth of chicken and iguana blood? No? See, itīs safe! AND NEW!

    Fatebound influence on the world:
    1) Withdrawal: Whenever you spend your Action point, your DM may:
    Describe a minor flaw of your substance abuse, fur humoristic purpose
    2) Whenever you shop for goods introduce a shady merchant to you with the best intentions of satisfying his customers
    3) Crash: Once per encounter when youīre rolling a natural 1 impose additional penalties, such as:
    Dropped weapon, prone, shift 2,

    Benefit: Whenever using any consumable, potion, oil, whatever, you gain temporary hitpoints equal to your constitution modified

    You can stop whenever you want! Really! Really Really! Keep telling yourself that. Just believe in you! (Note to GM only, not on the card. He/she actually can discard this Fatebind at any time, losing the benfit as well.)

    All of the above are still pretty rough, obv. but I think I like the concept and got the vibe right.

    Feel free to make any comments youīd like. Itīs a free world after all. If you could imagine playing in this game of mine, however, as a player - what would your reactions to the ideas presented to you be, especially the Fatebinds?

    Thanks and game on. :)
    Last edited by Angelmaker; 2018-10-27 at 07:53 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
    Keledrath's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    GMT -5

    Default Re: Fun with backstories - Homebrewing additional backstory ties for your players.

    The idea is actually pretty cool. I like the idea of letting them see the name without knowing what it does, and importantly you gave the ability to opt out

    All in all, I think most of them are actually pretty good. My main objections come into play around The Innocent
    First, I object to the bait and switch. The name very intentionally seems to not line up with what's on the Fatebind, and I'm not a fan of that deception. It might work with your table, but for me it would leave a sour taste.
    Second, how exactly does this devil work? Is it an NPC ally, is it a summon, is it a PC controlled entity? What are its stats? Does it have its own actions? There's a lot of detail missing here, and this is potentially a very powerful benefit.
    Third, on the drawbacks, the teleport powers function is either crippling or irrelevant. Mostly based on if they have any teleport powers. If I'm reading that correctly, it means that if the player uses a teleport power, you can simply end their turn and remove them from play until their next turn. That's devastating and awful. Similarly i recommend against doing drop your weapon, I've played with a DM who used that and it was a complete nightmare.

    The only other concern i would have would be that I don't trust a lot of people to not be really awful with substance abuser, but ultimately that comes down to what's tonally appropriate at your table and how comfortable you are with your players.
    I follow a general rule: better to ask and be told no than not to ask at all.

    Kelon by nijashe

    Extended Sig

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Re: Fun with backstories - Homebrewing additional backstory ties for your players.

    Hey Keledrath.

    Thanks for your amazing Feedback. You are right on all of your critique and I guess I was just kinda trying TOO hard to make all of them mechanically unique. I will definitely rename the "innocent" to "summoner pact", so people get a better idea of the vibe. I will also rework the drawbacks.

    The Devil would be a token minion which can be summoned as a minor action. I plan on letting him deal round about Level of character damage with a sustain minor attached.

    Thanks again and have a good one.
    Last edited by Angelmaker; 2018-11-06 at 07:58 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Troll in the Playground
    Yakk's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2006

    Default Re: Fun with backstories - Homebrewing additional backstory ties for your players.

    Have you looked at Fate aspects?

    Start here:

    This is the mechanics:

    There is invoking, hostile invoke and compelling.

    Invoking uses a resource (fate point) to, well, do something like reroll or get a bonus.

    Hostile Invoke is when someone else invokes *your* aspect (and consumes the resource) to give themselves a bonus against you. In this case, you get the Fate point (resource) after the current scene.

    Compelling an Aspect is when you take an Aspect and propose a complication. Here, the person doing the compell proposes some complication to the scene. You (and the DM) negotiate the details. Once done, the player being compelled can either (a) accept the complication and gain a fate point, or (b) reject the complication and burn a fate point. If a player (not DM) proposes a complication for another player, they have to burn a fate point.


    Now, hooking this into 4e, you could have powers attached to aspects as well as Fate Points (which recharge on a per-adventure basis or something).

    Invoking an aspect lets you (a) use one of those powers, or (b) reroll another roll. It can also be used to recharge another power if appropriate. Naturally this costs fate points. The connection (between the aspect and the effect) must be described and acceptable.

    So bad guys can invoke "your father is a villian" if the DM can work out why that makes sense. This can be "the goblin is a secret assassin" and give the goblin an extra encounter attack or whatever as a hostile invoke.

    However, look at the earlier pages for improved ways to word your aspects that leave them more open.

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