Trope Workshop:Faction Mechanics

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Trope Name:

On the second thought, this name is used for faction-SPECIFIC mechanics, thus may be somewhat ambiguous/mis-link bait. Perhaps, "NPC Faction Mechanics", "Factions as NPCs", "Dynamic Faction Mechanics", or "Faction Entity"?


Game mechanics intended to model properties of factions and their interaction with each other in a generalized way (more complex than a simple table of Relationship Values, at least).

Usually appears in RPG as a framework allowing GM to make decision easier and generate "events in background", but strategy games that don't treat player-tier factions as hive minds may have this too.

This page needs a better description. You can help this wiki by expanding or clarifying the information given.

Examples of Faction Mechanics include:

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

Tabletop Games

  • 13th Age[1] has factions (see details here) using:
    • Level: Influence; a local gang or small enterprise can be level 1 faction, while a continent-spanning organization level 9.
    • Agenda: What they want to achieve, in general and/or right now.
    • Relationships: Relationship Values vs. important NPCs, generally one positive and one negative.
    • Face(s): NPCs who represent the faction dealing with the outsiders.

Leviathan Hunters: Level 3 faction
Agenda: to safeguard the Blood Wood (and the Empire, as a secondary consideration) from the sea monsters.
Relationships: positive with the High Druid, ambiguous with the Orc Lord, negative with the Diabolist.
Face: Uzg (orc) left his clan and his clan name behind to serve High Druid. An unlikely but enthusiastic guardian of Blood Wood, he’s assembled a warband of other renegade orcs, wood elves and beasts of the forest. Currently weakened from their continued skirmishes with the sea monsters that got through last month, Leviathan Hunters would love to live up to their name and take the fight to the enemy – if their level reaches 5, Uzg will lead an expedition beyond the Sea Wall.


King of Elfland (Tier 5; Status -1; Find kidnapped daughter 1/8; negotiate peace treaty with human kingdom 3/8).

  • Reign [3] has Companies ("A Company can be a church, a conspiracy, a gang of bandits, a troop of soldiers, a school of enchantment, a small village or a mighty empire.") modeled with five Qualities:
    • Might: total military strength, whether it comes from large "conventional" army, magic forces or fortifications.
    • Influence: how the Company fares in debates, belief and general information. High Influence comes from having spies, diplomats, analysts and propagandists, and placing them well.
    • Treasure: how much money the group has, and ability to use the money. Low Treasure score might be due to lack of gold, or present money not used well due to corruption or bureaucracy; high Treasure might mean great riches or few resources plus ability to leverage them.
    • Sovereignty: measures loyalty and dedication and collective spirit, a measure of group identity. With high Sovereignty, the members of this group might be willing to die for it, with low, they will walk away or rebel at the first trouble.
    • Territory: total value and usefulness of the Company's holdings (wastelands don't count for much no matter the size, fertile land or forest produce resources).
    • Companies also have Assets that give a bonus to specific use of a Quality (Influence Asset can be a mole inside a foreign court: quite helpful when dealing with that one country, but only then).
  • Stars Without Number from Sine Nomine has "Turn-Based Strategy Lite" mechanics for factions:
    • 3 Attribute Ratings: Cunning/Force/Wealth 1 to 8, basically strength of intelligence/military/economical infrastructures. Each serves as cap for number of assets in its class. Used for attack/defense rolls.
    • Hit Points: overall measure of a faction’s cohesion, morale, and group unity. Maximum depends on Ratings. Lost mostly via Base of Influence suffering damage (whether from shooting, infiltration or financial ruin), regenerated via action.
    • Homeworld: can purchase assets even if Base of Influence is destroyed, if it wasn't the last one. Can relocate to another Base of Influence.
    • FacCreds count: measure of the faction’s general wealth and resources, spent to purchase and maintain assets or carry out faction operations, doesn’t necessarily convert to/from cash easily as it includes less-than-liquid things; income depends on all 3 Ratings, but mostly Wealth.
    • Experience Points count: earned by accomplishing goals (depending on Difficulty), spent on Rating upgrades (i.e. infrastructure upgrade) or sometimes to buy a new tag (optionally, when appropriate).
    • Tags: traits that relate to the faction’s nature or special aptitudes usually 1-2. Plutocratic ones are good at Wealth attacks, Deep Rooted at defence on homeworld, Technical Expertise may buy assets on any planet as if it was TL4, etc.
    • Current Goal (to direct the activity and earn Experience Points), with Difficulty and often some sort of implicit count.
    • Also, factions have Assets (purchased for FacCreds), each with current location and Hit Points, and sometimes other attached Assets. Examples of typical factions look like this:
      • Backwater Planet: Force 6, Cunning 3, Wealth 5. Hit Points: 29. Assets: Postech Infantry/Force 4, Planetary Defenses/Force 6, Informers/Cunning 1, Bank/Wealth 4. Tags: Deep Rooted, Planetary Government (<their homeworld>). Goal: Peaceable Kingdom[4]: Difficulty 1, 2/4 turns.
      • Zealous Faith: Force 3, Cunning 6, Wealth 5. Hit Points: 29. Assets: Demagogue/Cunning 6, Organization Moles/Cunning 5, Zealots/Force 3, Marketers/Wealth 5. Tags: Theocratic. Goal: Expand Influence (to <planet>)[5]: Difficulty 2 (assuming it's contested).
      • Rebel Freedom Fighters: Force 3, Cunning 4, Wealth 1. Hit Points: 15. Assets: Seditionists/Cunning 4, Zealots/Force 3. Tags: Secretive. Goal: Inside Enemy Territory[6]: Difficulty 2, 0/4 new hidden assets.
    • Assets have their own properties: ruling Attribute, minimum purchase rating, Hit Points, purchase Cost, minimum Tech Level of the planet to purchase (many can be moved, however), Type (military unit, facility, etc), Attack and Counterattack values, Special features (extra actions, maintenance cost).
      • Base of Influence is a special asset: not assigned to an Attribute, created by special action (needs but one asset moved to that world), required for continued existence of the faction and acquiring any other assets at the world; can have Hit Points up to its faction's Hit Points, but mirrors damage onto the faction's own Hit Points.
    • There are similar mechanics specific for different themes.
      • Darkness Visible (Splatbook for espionage campaigns) gives intelligence agencies and secret societies attributes (Connections, Infiltration, Mobility, Muscle, Resources, Security and Tech), assets (with levels that increase their associated attribute) and Goals.
      • Gansu loyalty association: Connections +5, Mobility +1, Resources +1, Tech +0, Infiltration +0, Muscle +0, Security +3. (Criminal Ties L 1 / +1 Connections, Hidden Strings L 1 / +1 Connections, Internal Security L 2 / +3 Security, Legitimacy L 2 / +3 Connections, Money L 1 / +1 Resources, Station L 1 / +1 Mobility). Goals: infiltrate and sabotage foreign governments; obtain wealth.
      • Suns of Gold (Splatbook for merchant campaigns) has businesses with Holdings instead of assets and Headquarters.
      • Other Dust (Post Apocalyptic spin-off game) notes for survivor polities Population, Government, Origin, overall Tier, Tags, Perks and Tech Level, rates for Food, Influence, Morale, Security and Tech, and Progress and Ruin counts.
  • Labyrinth Lord sourcebook "An Echo, Resounding" from Sine Nomine has Domain Play rules. Introduction notes that if PCs are movers and shakers, it can be used for Birthright style role-strategical game, and if not — well, dynamic backdrop is your friend.

The interaction of domains can be meaningful even when the PCs are relative nobodies. A war here, a catastrophe there, a rebellion up the way... all these things provide grist for any level of adventurer, either in dealing with the fallout or trying desperately to avoid becoming collateral damage. A Labyrinth Lord can use domain-level conflicts to drive the sort of coherent, persistent activity that helps give verisimilitude and weight to the world outside the PCs’ concerns. Even when the PCs choose to stay clear of events, the simple fact that they are happening adds another thread of substance and cohesiveness to the campaign world.


Video Games

  • Stellaris has up to 9 Factions in each empire, unless it's a hive mind. Factions have
    • Approval (how well their team does lately),
    • Support (Population units, unless confused or lobotomized, usually back one of these, then get more happy or less happy depending on Approval and Issues),
    • Issues (what they want or don't want to happen),
    • Influence (depends on Approval and Support),
    • Leader (picked among the hired leaders and the ruler).

Other Media

Real Life

  1. discussed here
  2. discussed here
  3. discussed here
  4. i.e. it's going to save for growth if it refrains from attacking anyone by military, intelligence or economic means — and, well, it's backwater
  5. what else would a Zealous Faith do by default?
  6. their acquisitions are automatically stealthed due to Tag, and they'll need more than 2 assets for aggressive goals anyway