New World, Who’s This? Factions

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Welcome back, fellow world builders! Last week I discussed the beginning of the map I am using for a campaign. Today, we populate that map with the people who will make the game interesting. In any fantasy world, sci-fi, swords and sorcery, or any other setting of note, there are groups of people trying to achieve their goals.  Collectively, we tend to call those groups of individuals a faction.

So what is a faction? A basic definition is a group formed within a larger organization. In our case the larger organization is our setting, or game world. Typically, these organizations have goals and aspirations which they are working together to achieve. I personally like having an odd number of factions so there can never be an equity of power. For example, if two factions decide their goals align and work together, there are three others who can band together to oppose them. In a politically complex game, these alliances should shift and change day to day, as each faction works to increase their own power and deny power to the rest of their competitors.

Now that you understand what a faction is, ask yourself who your factions will be. Remember that this world is your own, and as such the factions within can be whomever you want them to be.  They could be competing noble houses, like in Game of Thrones or the War of the Roses. Alternatively, they could be Guilds competing for monopolies, trade lanes, or political favor. Since I am world building for a fantasy TTRPG, my factions could be dragons trying to amass the largest horde. Like many things in a fantasy game, the limit is your imagination.

Lastly you should consider how these factions will be relevant to the stars of the show, namely your players.  The easiest way to draw a connection is to determine if any of your players are part of one of these factions. Each faction can give the players quests, magic items, and other rewards for helping the faction achieve their goals. And more than likely the players will like or dislike one over the other, leading to easy recurring antagonists. Depending on the game you run, your players could even start their own faction, and become players on the political stage.

While not a necessity, introducing various factions into your TTRPG setting is a great way to engage your players in the world around them.

Do you have any ideas for a compelling faction to add to your game?  Let me know in the comments below!

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