D&D has always been a game played among friends, or with strangers who often become friends. Friendship is a type of love, and I thought that for our last article for “Love Month,” I’d try to do a mechanical representation of the bonds of trust and love that form between adventurers within the game world.
Night’s Black Agents uses “trust points,” which can be used a simple mechanical boost as well as a roleplaying tool. I made something similar below with a more D&D feel to it, and I also decided to go a little deeper and create some new feats for 5th edition that both capture the bond between adventurers and gives players a new kind of power to play with – the power of friendship.
New character system – Bonds of Trust
At character creation, after selecting class and backgrounds, the players decide how long their characters have known each other and how close they are, and establish their relationships with one another. Each character should have a bond with another character, whether it is “We’ve known each other since childhood,” “We’re in love,” or “We just met.” You should generally update the bonds between characters whenever they evolve during play.
At the start of a campaign, the players assign a strength to each bond by distributing trust dice, which are d6’s. A character must have a strongest and a weakest bond; the strongest bond receives 2 dice, and the weakest receives 0 dice, all the others receive 1. These do not need to be mutual; characters may not always feel the same way about one another. Any time you use the “Help” action on another character in the party, you may spend one or more trust dice they gave you to add them to the end result of their roll.
Example: Helga is battling a werewolf, and her husband Roderick is out of spells so he decides to intervene physically, distracting the werewolf by pulling its tail. He has 3 trust dice from Helga, and he decides to use two of them and takes the Help action on his turn. When Helga rolls her next attack, she gets advantage (from the help action) and then adds an additional 2d6 to her highest d20 roll before applying other modifiers.
Trust dice replenish when you level up. The DM may also allow trust dice for a particular bond to be replenished by roleplaying the bond well outside of combat. You gain another trust die whenever your proficiency bonus increases, and you may redistribute your trust dice when you gain a new one. A bond can never have more than 3 trust dice or less than 0.
Partners in Crime
You have forged an effective team of n’er-do-wells that can pull of daring heists and cons because of your trust in one another.
Requirements: Two or more characters must select this feat simultaneously. All characters selecting this feat must be proficient in one of the following: Dexterity (Stealth), Charisma (Deception), thieve’s tools, or disguise kit.
-When making a Dexterity (Stealth) check or a check to create a disguise, if any allies with this feat make a check for the same action (sneaking up a passageway, or disguising yourselves as guards, for instance), all of you use the highest result from among all of your rolls for that check.
-If any of your allies who have this feat are not surprised in a surprise round, you are also not surprised and can act in the surprise round.
-You develop a code that allows you to convey messages. This functions as the Thieves’ Cant feature from the rogue class, but it can only be used to communicate with others who took this feat at the same time you did.
You have participated in a ritual that binds a spellcaster to his allies for greater battlefield effectiveness. Wizards and their bodyguards or cadres of battle-mages often take this feat.
Requirements: Two or more characters must select this feat simultaneously. At least one character selecting the feat must be able to cast 2nd-level spells.
-When you cast a spell that targets only yourself, you may choose to also target an ally within 5 feet of you who also has this feat.
-While within 5 feet of an ally who also has this feat, you have advantage on Constitution checks to concentrate on a spell, and you do not have disadvantage on ranged spell attack rolls due to hostile creatures being within 5 feet of you.
-If you are subjected to an effect of a spell cast by an ally with this feat that allows you to make a saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail.
Bound by the Gods
A prophecy from the gods binds you to your closest allies.
Requirements: Two or more characters must select this feat simultaneously. All characters selecting this feat must worship either the same god, or gods from the same pantheon who are not philosophically opposed.
-You gain proficiency in Intelligence (Religion) checks, and you add double your proficiency bonus to such checks regarding the god or gods involved in the prophecy that binds you and your allies.
-Whenever you roll a natural 20 on an attack roll or saving throw, allies with this feat that can see you gain advantage on all attack rolls and saving throws until the start of your next turn.
-Whenever an ally with this feat that you can see would drop to 0 HP as the result of an attack, you can choose to take half of the damage of that attack for them (possibly preventing them from dropping to 0 HP). You may not use this ability again until you complete a long rest.