Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekly 4e Homebrew: Interaction Gauge

Every Sunday, I'll have a completely homebrewed Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition element that you can use in your games. I do take requests so you can either post a comment here, email me at with the subject "Homebrew Request", or send me a tweet on Twitter (@brannonhutchins) with the hashtag #weekly4e.

Knowing how to interact with other PCs and NPCs in your Dungeons and Dragons game is important to create a realistic roleplaying experience. But how does one determine that? How do I know how to react to certain characters?

Over the years of gaming, I have noticed some people marking on their character sheets how much they hate or like certain PCs or NPCs in the game. I thought this was quite interesting, especially with those that used MATH to determine the appropriate amount of love or scorn to emulate while roleplaying.

Some of you might be thinking "Why don't you just act it out instead of making it into another mechanic?" My answer would be "Can you even remember the name of the innkeeper in your own hometown that your group spent the first year of sessions talking to? Didn't think so." Keeping notes can help in roleplaying, and having a numerical value placed on an NPC you forgot about can make getting into the proper mood a lot easier.

So, for those of you looking for a mechanical method of gauging your hatred or love for other characters, I present to you: the Interaction Gauge mechanic.

Interaction Gauge
Numerically gauging your interest or hatred in other people.

The Interaction Gauge ranges from -10 to +10, with most interactions with other characters starting with 0. When your character meets another PC or important NPC for the first time, note their name and some details to help you remember who they are in the game, and then place a 0 next to that. If your character has any prejudice against the character due to race, gender, nationality, etc., then add or subtract 1 or 2 points immediately. Maybe more.

When your character bears witness to a PC or NPC performing an act against or in accordance to your character's alignment or moral code, look to the following chart:

Starting Score 0
Character acts drastically in accordance to your alignment +3
Character acts in accordance to your alignment +2
Character acts slightly in accordance to your alignment +1
Character pranks a character you dislike +1
Character pranks a character you like -1
Character acts slightly against your alignment -1
Character acts against your alignment -2
Character acts drastically against your alignment -3

Use the chart as an example, not as a rule. If you feel like your character would add or subtract further points from the scale, feel free to do so.

Love (8 to 10)
While this does not necessarily represent a romantic love, you will do almost anything to help this character out.

Like (4 to 7)
A character you like can ask minor favors of you and you given the opportunity, you wouldn't mind helping out, given it isn't too far out of your way.

Neutral (-3 to 3)
Your character does not have any real opinion about a character they feel neutral to. The character might give you a good or bad feeling, but the feeling is not all that strong.

Dislike (-7 to -4)
Something about a character in this category makes your character uneasy to be around them. Your character tends to go out of their way to ignore or irritate them.

Loath (-10 to -8)
Your character cannot find anything of redeeming value in a character in this category, despising them so much that your character might even go out of their way to maim or kill this individual if properly provoked into it and if it is within your alignment to do so.

Designer Notes: This article is late due to LIFE, and no, I do not mean the board game (as far as you know).

You may have noticed that the Gauge is based on the Artifact Compliance mechanic. It was the largest mechanical influence as it already represented an entity's interest in a character.

The Interaction Gauge was created for Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition by Wizards of the Coast.

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