Fiasco-Style Relationships

by Mike Shea on 13 February 2012

There are few games more different from D&D than the story-focused RPG Fiasco. In Fiasco, a group of players determine backgrounds, relationships, actions, successes, and failures through cooperative storytelling and a few rolls of the dice.

The joining of characters through relationships is an easy component to steal from Fiasco that brings rich connections between D&D characters and the group in which they find themselves.

Establishing these relationships solves one of the most tiresome cliche's of our beloved game: the old "you all meet in a bar" character introduction. Using the chart we can build simple yet rich relationships among the members of the party that can lead to all new adventures, quests, and connections to the world.

How to use this list

During character creation, have each player roll 1d20. The result ties his or her PC to the PC of the player on his or her left. This repeats around the table until each PC has two relationships, one with the player on the left and one with the player on the right.

Let the players discuss the nature of this relationship, choosing a side when applicable and adding some details of their own. Record all of this and reinforce it by sending it in email and having players record it on their character sheets. If one doesn't make sense or is quite displeasing to one or both of the players, let them re-roll it.

Throughout your campaign, tie the plots and adventures to these relationships and backgrounds of the PCs.

The relationship chart

  1. Only two survivors of former adventuring company
  2. Former friends or lovers that fell out
  3. Mentor and apprentice
  4. Boss and hired hand
  5. Siblings
  6. Former prison cell-mates
  7. Former members of a town militia
  8. Former members of a mercenary company
  9. Former members of a thieves guild
  10. Former students of a beloved teacher
  11. Lord and serf
  12. Former veterans of the same war
  13. Ward and protector
  14. Bounty hunter and prisoner
  15. Former members of the same grifter crew
  16. Former members of the same street gang
  17. Former enemies that now work together
  18. Members of the same adopted family
  19. Former slave
  20. Business partners

Tailoring this list

When running a campaign in a specific game world such as Dark Sun, Neverwinter or Gloomwrought, tailor the list to tie characters to the game world you have selected. Replace or add details to the chart above based on specific houses, factions, or locations within your campaign.

Update: Logan Bonner's Dragon Slayers for Fiasco

When I originally wrote this article, I was unaware of Logan Bonner's Dragon Slayers accessory for Fiasco. It contains an excellent set of backgrounds and relationships (some of which appear, coincidently, in the list above). If you're looking for a more in-depth set of backgrounds and relationships, that is a great accessory to reference. Thanks to Logan Bonner for putting it out for free!

If you enjoyed this article, please take a look at Sly Flourish's Dungeon Master Tips or Running Epic Tier D&D Games. You might also take a look at the new Pathfinder Heroes miniatures at Troll and Toad, an official Sly Flourish sponsor.

Send feedback to @slyflourish on Twitter or email mike@mikeshea.net.