- Others won’t/will offer aid when the character is in trouble.
- Others won’t/will honor commitment they make with the character.
- Others won’t/will return favors for things the character does.
- Others won’t/will obey when given instructions.
- Others won’t/will attempt to emulate the behavior, beliefs or activities of the character.
- Others won’t/will ‘sleep’ with the character.
- Others won’t/will sacrifice their lives for the character.
- Others won’t/will sacrifice their morals, status or wealth for the character.
Now, for my purposes, I see no reason why a roll may not be imposed to determine the likelihood of any of the above occurring. I recognize that there are some people who oppose vehemently the use of any roll to determine the behavior of an NPC, but for my money this just leaves the decision for what an NPC does in the potentially biased hands of the DM. DM’s, like people, are not so diverse in their moment-to-moment opinions on things that they can be trusted to represent the entire range of human behavior and reaction, and for that reason I think it’s necessary to force a DM to acknowledge a random element’s potential for forcing a prized NPC to once in awhile cave to the party’s desire, sacrifice a little, resist a little or otherwise behave differently than the DM’s absolutist dogma. In other words, give the party a chance. Roll a die.
For those d20 lovers out there, I propose the following table:
I am intentionally offering the above idea as one that is unfinished, since there is a vast set of modifiers that ought to apply here. Obviously, a player's charisma for a start, but also a set for certain individuals who would be more likely to obey, emulate, sacrifice or otherwise bed the character. A prostitute would not need a die roll to sleep with the character - but she might need a die roll to sleep with the character for free, which might occur if the character successfully rolls an 18+.
The idea here is that if the character makes a request (or arrangement) with an NPC, this would indicate the NPC's likelihood of complying. The DM may want the NPC to lay down his or her life for the character, but that's probably a bias fitting more with the DMs plans for the campaign than with the player's actual charisma. Players who have a 9 or 10 charisma tend to get away with murder where it comes to DMs who just want to have NPCs behave as story-assets, and that's exactly the sort of DM I don't want to be.
I wouldn't expect the above idea to be popular, since DMs are rather fond of not being restrained by dice. That is one of the benefits of the screen. And there is a powerful lobby online arguing for no-rolling D&D ... which strikes me as a sort of mastubatory naval-gazing, actually. I do play a non-rolling D&D type activity - I call it novel-writing, and as I do it I do not roll dice and I am absolute god over the actions of every character. And I do understand that occasionally multiple people get together to write novels.
For myself, I like the idea of a player have the power to insist that I roll to see if the innkeeper can be conned via charisma into letting the player stay the night for free; or if the magistrate's daughter would tumble a bit with a pretty face. All against my own personal wishes, you understand. As a DM I am always shooting myself in the foot, giving players all sorts of die rolls with which to control their worlds - if the players can be smart enough to remember when to roll the dice and at the right times. That's actually not easy.
If, by chance, the gentle reader might be open to the above concept, I'm equally open to suggestions about what might constitute reasonable modifiers to the dice. It might be fun to work up a couple hundred, or say a score for each of the eight options.