Dungeons & Dragons’ latest offering is a crossover with Magic: The Gathering called Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos. While that particular mash-up might not get your heart racing, it’s very likely that the new relationship mechanics found inside will do the trick. The canonical rules of the game now include hooks for love triangles, break-ups, and more.
The action starts in chapter 3, titled “School Is In Session,” which is a hefty bit of text that also includes an entire freshman year adventure. But wedged in there alongside the rules for work study jobs and extracurricular activities (yes, Strixhaven has a live-action role-playing guild that you can join) is a section on relationships. The book’s authors say they’re a great way to “cement friendships, establish rivalries, deepen bonds, and otherwise develop relationships with student NPCs in this book’s adventures.”
[Warning: This story contains light spoilers about Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos.]
All of this is being done in a PG-13 way, mind you, which is the game’s de facto age rating, according to our discussions with Wizards of the Coast over the years. In fact, the relationships section goes from introducing the concept right into a discussion on whether or not they’re even right for the players at your table. They include tips for Dungeon Masters (DMs) who have some players who aren’t really into the idea, and even talks about what to do if someone’s BFF begins to hog the spotlight.
There’s certainly nothing untoward or racy about any of this, but reading between the lines there’s clearly lots of room to take these mechanics and ... min-max things in your favor, let’s say.
The system itself is pretty straightforward. There’s some nuance to be sure, but basically it boils down to: Do a good deed in the role-play with an NPC and score some positive relationship points. Do bad deeds, get some negative relationship points. Boosting that relationship into positive territory earns you a boon from an NPC, while letting it sit in negative territory makes that NPC your bane. Greta Gorunn, for example, is a chaotic good dwarf who hangs out with the Strixhaven Iron-Lifters Society. Her boon is that she and the other lifters are always available to move heavy objects around for you. Get on her bad side, however, and you’ll find an anvil placed right outside your dorm room door.
But once you become friends, you can take things further by becoming beloveds with an NPC with just a roll of the dice. Once you have a beloved, you gain inspiration after every long rest. Inspiration is usually dolled out only on rare occasions by the DM, as it lets you re-roll an attack, a saving throw, or an ability check. Getting them from having a beloved is huge.
Here’s the full text:
When a character has a Beloved, the character gains Beloved Inspiration at the end of each long rest. Beloved Inspiration functions like regular Inspiration (as described in the Player’s Handbook), except a character regains a number of uses of Beloved Inspiration after each long rest equal to the number of Beloveds they have, not to exceed a number equal to their proficiency bonus.
Just about every first-level character has a proficiency bonus of two. This means you will need to begin cheating on your beloved almost immediately in order to acquire a second beloved, thereby maxing out your Beloved Inspiration stat.
Do you hear something? Oh yes, it’s sound of your DM chuckling to themselves as they plot the inevitable scene where your unsuspecting boyfriend and girlfriend first meet one another.
What about riskier love interests? Well, since this is a teen-friendly game, Wizards puts the kibosh on that early on: “The rules encompass only interactions with student NPCs. Professors, administrators, and other older adults aren’t part of the Relationship rules.”
But hey, that’s what homebrew is for, amiright?