So, I’ve been hacking Bliss Stage.
My question is: “How do I achieve the aesthetic of interpersonal relationships and social mechanics from Bliss Stage within the context of D&D, while at the same time adding as little complexity to the existing ruleset as possible.”
I started by drawing parallels between the mechanics.
“Stress” and “Horror” — the latter of which I prefer to think of as ‘peril’ — can both use the hit point mechanic in D&D. As an added bonus, both effects can actually be represented by psychic damage to hit points.
Why do I think so… well, both horror and stress accumulate as a result of missions. While horror may wear off at the end of a mission, stress affects a relationship until relieved through an interlude.
Since we’ll have no individual relationship values, the simplest answer is to combine stress and horror and apply them equally to hit points.
Horror increments trauma at a certain point, and using our death spiral mechanic — alternatively Condition from Star Wars Saga Edition or “wounds” I guess, from the Storyteller systems — and so it’s an excellent parallel to normal damage.
Stress on the other hand, will have to be generalized since there aren’t individual relationships to apply it to — which is really just more reinforcement for the idea of combining it with horror as a form of psychic damage.
Trauma is a very easy parallel for the existing death spiral mechanic.
When your character is reduced to zero hit points, you roll death spiral — I might, just have to call it that. I’ve tried to be straightforward with other named mechanics, so this might just have to be “death spiral.”
“Bliss” has proved a mechanic without obvious parallels.
I want to compare Bliss with XP, or since XP are purchased, Bliss could instead be a parallel for GP. At the same time, that doesn’t make sense.
Level might seem an appropriate parallel to Bliss, as a sort of abbreviation of the XP process — and indeed, it might serve that function. I think it would be interesting to see the “level cap” as symbolic of character death.
Epic destiny in 4e hinted at this sort of thing actually.
What’s missing then, are mechanics related to trust and intimacy. I think my choice to make the “short rest” action restore the hit points of only a single character might actually be a good pace to start.