Why does this exist?

Pole Stars originated in an idea for a card-based RPG I’m developing. I wanted a way to bring characters together, similar to bonds or relationships from other RPGs. But in my experience, such things often fell by the wayside once play began.

The key, I thought, was to tie those bonds to something that was happening in the game. Some games do a form of this (e.g. Dungeon World’s Aid mechanic, where you roll +Bonds), but that’s a mechanical solution to a fictional problem.

I was very impressed with the plotting of Netflix’s “The Dragon Prince”, and in particular how it kept this relatively tight cast constantly rethinking their relationships. It seemed like the action revolved around a few key concepts, like “dark magic” or “the dragon egg”. I broke down what I thought made that plotting tick, and my conclusions turned into this set of rules.

At the same time, the card game itself is intended to be modular. There’s nothing about this particular way of building bonds that makes it better or worse for that game, and there’s nothing about the cards that make them requirements for pole stars. So I decided to separate the two. I’ll be shipping the card game with a reference to these rules, as a starting point for people who don’t have their own ideas.

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This is such a clever mechanic for both player-focused world-building, and generating dynamic character relationships focused on external objects or actions.