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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells 2nd Edition - Reputation and Contacts


Reputation

Characters in most fantasy games begin as nobodies. They are usually common people without significant past deeds that would make them noticeable or famous. That’s an interesting and important feature. It sets the stage so that the really special events happen during the game. If the PCs are to become famous, gather a reputation, this will be due to things they do in their adventures.

Thus, as the characters go on adventures, acquire wealth, and become more and more powerful and influential, their reputation will grow. Their names will invoke images and change the way people see them. To help reflect this on the game I’ve come up with what I call a Level Test. It works like this: The player rolls a 2d6 and compare it to your character’s Level. If it’s equal to or below the number, the NPC recognizes you somehow. Their reaction will vary according to your deeds and fame.

The Referee can also impose a Negative or Positive Die depending on how familiar each region is to the culture of the character. Suppose a character famous for his deed in one kingdom traveled all the way across the ocean to another region, his chances of being recognized would be lower, so the Referee would roll an additional d6 and keep the two highest dice. In the same manner, if the character made efforts to become bonded to some specific culture, noble house or organization, NPCs linked to them (even enemies) could roll 3d6 and keep the two lowest dice when determining if they know the character.

Contacts

The player characters will inevitably meet and form bonds with a great number of individuals in their adventures. They will make friends, acquaintances and business contacts along the way and they will certainly try to make use of these contacts whenever they could prove useful in their endeavors.

In game terms, players can make a Luck Roll to determine if they know a contact related to their characters Concept. If they are an Ex-Gladiator from the Free Cities of the Bay of the Dragon, they could make a Luck Roll to determine if a contact related to gladiator arenas, gamblers, or people from the cities of that area are around. Far away from these circumstances these contacts could hardly be of any use though and the Referee might rule that they cannot make the Luck Roll.

If the character finds themself lucky, they know a certain someone that might be able to assist them, but not necessarily willing to help without receiving anything in return. The player and the Referee should create this individual together, possibly making use of the tables of Appendix N: NPCs Generator. These individuals should have distinctive features, personality and their own agenda. They might require some sort of payment for their services but more commonly will ask for favors, giving the Referee more opportunity to introduce adventure hooks in the campaign.

An unlucky character, however, either doesn't know anyone that could be of help nearby or the people they know are currently unavailable for now. The Referee should determine exactly the situation and move on.

Beyond the contacts the characters may know based on their Concept, they will eventually forge ties with other individuals. Players should make notes on the people they meet and can possibly call upon for assistance. To make use of them they still need to make a Luck Roll too, as circumstances can change and things are not so predictable.

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