So, bonds, and their type and number:

So, bonds, and their type and number:

So, bonds, and their type and number:

I don’t find the DW book very clear about how many bonds each PC should have. From a literal reading I think the rules are:

* At chargen, you may fill in the bonds pre-printed on your sheet – you cannot make up whole bonds yourself.

* At chargen, you must have at least one bond

* At chargen, you may have multiple bonds with the same other PC – the only limit is the number of bonds pre-printed.

* After chargen, the size of your bond set is fixed at that size – there’s no way to grow it.

* When you resolve a bond (max one at the end of a each session) you may replace it, and at this point you may make up your own bond text.

* If a character you have a bond with dies permanently, or otherwise leaves the game, undefined.

* If at chargen there is only one PC, undefined (but it seems natural to just ignore bonds in that case).

1) Is that what the rules really say?

2) Is that what Sage LaTorra and Adam Koebel meant? (it sounds a bit odd, particularly the set being fixed at an arbitrary size after chargen)

3) Is that good? E.g. for even experienced DW players, is the “you must start with only pre-printed bonds” a good idea? (I suspect not)

16 thoughts on “So, bonds, and their type and number:”

  1. For a freeform game like this you should probably let go of the rules a bit. Draw the bonds from the fiction, never make enough bonds per character so that they tend to forget them (the printed number works fine, 2 more usually work fine, with most players), allowing them to create a bond every end session whenever they feel like it works fine too, as long as they really draw from the fiction and state them in the right way.

  2. Thanks Andrzej Zielinski, that makes sense.

    That said, the DW rules are written very strictly – they’re designed to be followed by everyone, including the GM. DW is rules-light with many areas where the GM has broad latitude, but’s not freeform, and the GM is not supposed to ignore or change rules on the fly.

    As with my other rules questions, I’m not (just) looking to solve my own lacklustre experience with bonds, I’m trying to help reach a standard solution (or set of same) that can become a standard for DW.

  3. I don’t see any reason you need be limited by the pre-printed bonds. In fact, the rules actually quite state that you can add a bond or change a bond at any time if the relationship shifted without any list of pre-approved bonds. Surely then at character creation a character can have bonds different than are on the sheet.

    Think of the bonds as well… examples of possibilities rather than a definitive list.

    Now… the number… well… that’s tricky. You see, I think ideally that someone should have a bond with each other character in the group to describe their basic relationship dynamic. Could you have more than one with the same character for a more nuisanced or complicated relationship? Maybe, but… I am not sure I’d recommend it.

    But, having more bonds than there are characters in the group tends to be a bad thing. Over a course of an adventure a character will only have so many opportunities to interact with each other character at the table. So it is best to have a clear focus on what the characters mean to one another rather than having it unfocused on a whole bunch of different things.

    Moreover, bonds are opportunities to gain experience points.. so… it’d probably not so good if someone has quite a few more opportunities to earn experience by resolving bonds than the other players.

  4. Sure Rob Alexander . Well, according to the rules you will only get the number of bonds you choose to set, with a maximum of the number of the printed bonds. That number will then diminish while you play (should you solve two bonds at one session) until the point you have one bond. At that point you can decide not to replace it with another one after a resolution and be left with no bonds. And that makes sense, seeing how the characters get tied into the game world as they progress and how these relations replace those enforced by the bonds.

  5. Are you advocating for across all play experiences orthodoxy? 

    what has been your at the table issue with the bonds? where did they fall down for you? maybe that will help me understand what you are trying to get at here rather than a RAW vs RAI type argument you appear to be making

  6. Andrzej Zielinski Sorry, but a big part of your post is wrong. The rules are different from what you write.

    This is the only correct part “Well, according to the rules you will only get the number of bonds you choose to set, with a maximum of the number of the printed bonds. ” 

    I have few time, so I can’t write down the correct things, but of course you can double-check them or ask in the forum.

  7. Rob Alexander you are completely correct. About your 3 final questions:

    1) yes

    2) about the number of bonds, there’s a motivation behind, you find it at the end of the book: “Bonds are where the class’ outlook shines through. It’s the place where you, the designer, will most clearly interact with the player at character creation. Unless the class is particularly social or antisocial, write four bonds. If the class is very connected to others, add a bond; if they’re cloistered, remove one.”

    This is why the bard is the only one with 6 bonds. He’s more “social”.

    3) Good? I’d say yes, however I let the players to write brand new bonds EVEN at the start of the play, AND EVEN with important NPCs. But they can’t exceed the “social” limit. This is one of the class “stat”, so I like to keep it.

  8. Pretty much every game I’ve ever played in or run has done away with the “you can’t write your own bonds” part.

    A. because the bonds in the book very often aren’t indicative of the type of character I and my friends play.

    and B. Sometimes the bonds as written run counter to what we feel is “good behavior” in an RPG group. a big sticking point being the Cleric’s bond about converting someone, the thief’s bond about having a con running.

    Not saying that bonds as written aren’t fie for anyone else, just explaining why I diverge from the stated rules.

  9. You can’t let people have (at start or ultimately) an unlimited number of bonds–otherwise, I’m going to write about 5 bonds for every PC and be able to aid them way too easy. 

    So you should definitely stay with the number of bonds on the sheets. 

    However, letting players who know what they’re doing write/rewrite those bonds to fit is an easy adjustment and has no mechanical effect. I routinely offer that option.

    If a player really wanted more total bonds, then I’d offer an option of maybe getting 2 additional bonds instead of a level-up move. Hasn’t come up yet, and I’m not sure how many people would take that deal.

  10. Thanks Adam Koebel , Andrea Parducci – that makes it clearer. Sorry for not doing what I should have done before posting this question, which was to get up the DW PDF and search for all occurrences of bond(s).

    This does reveal a problem with Brennen Reece ‘s  minimalist playbooks PDF – the number of bond slots is not shown. (NB other than that they’re very nice)

    (it’s also missing the default bond templates but my inclination, given this thread, is to houserule away the need to stick to them, and it does have some class-relevant examples on each sheet)

  11. Re-reading p32-33 of DW, which I could have sworn I did yesterday, it’s implicit although not spelled out that the set of example bonds in a maximum size, and also that you can fill in a blank bond at any time. So partly it’s my reading that’s a problem here, although I think a little more explicitness would help.

  12. andrew ferris if you limit characters to one bond per other PC, you lose the element that bonds share with Hx from AW – the way that being closely tied to someone helps you to help them… and also to hurt them. Being tightly bonded is a double-edged sword; one-bond-per PC is like blunting one edge.

  13. Again, about bonds, they are pure gold when you are starting a campaign, to spice up the game and giving great backstory bits to characters. Of course, standard bonds CAN become obsolete when you are playing with DW the 4th time, so I think the best way to manage this is to create standard generic bonds that players HAVE to choose and to adapt.

    Something like:

    – You and another character are very friends. Tell us why.

    – you have an enemicity with another character. Tell us why.

    – You can’t stand that character. Tell us why.

    And so on. Generic, but inspiring fiction and creating a dynamic situation in the starting group.

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