For those that don't know, True Friend is a merit in Vampire the Requiem 2nd edition that gives the PC a person that they can truly trust. Someone that will under almost no circumstances betray them, one that cannot be killed by the GM for "plot reasons", etc.
While in itself it's a bit of an innocuous merit, its very existence seems to imply a thing or two about how some GMs might be treating their PCs and their relationships.
A lot of the design that went on between Vampire the Masquerade, Vampire the Requiem 1st edition and now the 2nd edition is focused on addressing various issues that came up from actual play. The systems did away with creating multi-splat characters (no more Abominations!), addressed minmaxing, heck, it even massaged out small niggles with things like Sanctity of Merits.
This implies that True Friend was probably a reaction to some GMs crossing the line a few times too many, stuffing PC's loved ones in the fridge or making them betray the PC for the sake of a twist that wasn't even a good story. This of course disproportionately targets players that have gone out of their way to build a backstory, fill it with people their character cares about, engage with the NPCs and get invested in them, etc. In other words - it mostly punishes people that might care to get the most invested in the world, vs "Joe the Orphan" that has no family, no one to care about, etc.
So here is my request to all GMs that care:
- Talk with your players about potential boundaries and what are they comfortable with happening to their character. Some players might be on-board with being betrayed and stabbed in the back, but others won't.
- Foster trust in your group. Respect what the players are putting forward, and talk with them if something doesn't fit - don't just kill off some player's NPC because they don't fit in with the story.
- Be mindful when you aim to kill off or hurt NPCs important to the players. It might not sit well with everyone if they are not on-board with it.
- Don't punish your players for getting invested in your story, your world and your NPCs. You want them to get invested, so you should reward that behaviour, not punish it.