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Dreeghul

Applying Obligation

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Hello!

I've run about two campaigns with my regular group. Both campaigns, the group tries to keep the obligation down as low as they can. They have no use for it despite my efforts to try and incorporate it into the story. They would rather be poor or find other methods of obtaining what they seek than use Obligation as a resource to pay for things. They want to be those do-good criminals, which is fine. As long as they are happy, I'm happy.

I'm starting a new group, new players. Some of them have never played before and I'm about to introduce to them the mechanics of the system which includes Obligation. My Session: 0 will go over Obligation and give them a chance to tie in their Obligations or not. For this campaign, I do intend on showing them how Obligation is used and I'm more than certain that one or more of them may use it as a resource. I've always been curious though, since my time as a player has always been rare and I have no examples of how other Game Masters use Obligation, has anybody ever applied or "inflicted" Obligation on their players?

For example, say the characters have successfully concluded an adventure. Unfortunately they didn't defeat or bring the crime lord they had to deal with during the course of the adventure to justice. I determine that the crime lord could be a recurring villain later on down the road and his anger towards the players has him take out a bounty on each of their heads so each player takes 5 Bounty Obligation. The players now have an enemy that pops up every now and then getting in the way until they deal with it one way or another. Subsequently, would just applying 10 Bounty Obligation to the group as whole if 5 per player seems like too much?

I don't want to drown them in Obligation or make them feel like it is more of a burden than a storytelling tool so I intend on using it sparingly. The book doesn't mention it used this way, unless it is in another part of the book that isn't titled "Obligation" and I missed it, so I'm curious if anybody has used it like this and what were the results?

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I've done this. It works very well for Obligations like Criminal, Bounty, and Betrayal. Depending on the group, I have sometimes not even informed the PCs that this new Obligation is in play until it naturally comes up due to the roll. After all, if the PCs wouldn't know, it makes for a more interesting session when they find out. Naturally this depends on the group, and with players I haven't played with much, I wouldn't recommend it. 

Other Obligations, like Favor and Duty-bound are excellent choices when the PCs are establishing relationships with friendly PCs. Obligation doesn't have to mean they've done something wrong, it's more there to model their relationship with the rest of the setting. As above, I might add a 5 point Favor when some friendly NPCs get the PCs out of a jam. When it comes up, the PCs get to decide if they help the NPCs or not, and how that plays out. If they blow them off, the obligation might go away and they'll get some setback the next time they deal with those NPCs. If they do this more than once, I might shift the Obligation to Betrayal and have a new adversary who wouldn't mind seeing the PCs suffer.

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