One of the gaming blogs in my RSS feed is Playing D&D With Porn Stars. Since the blog is mostly D&D-centric and I’ve only played D&D something like 4 times this century, I usually skim the first paragraph and move on. I keep the blog on my feed, though, because the author, Zak S, occasionally posts good general gaming stuff (also, boobies). Anyway, a recent post was about an online tool called inklewriter, which basically lets you write your own Endless Quest books. Zak had started using the site to make a tool to help new players make their D&D character and announced a contest where people make a gaming tool using the site.
Since I’m a sucker for contest that involve doing random gaming stuff, I decided to submit something. My first thought was to do a QAGS character creator or Hobomancer lifepath generator or something, but since the rules specify that entries are more likely to win if they’re useful for a game the judge plays, I decided to go with something more generic. Also, I can use the contest entry as practice for possible QAGS-related stuff later on. Eventually I settled on a Faction Generator, which is being constructed here. I don’t have much of it completed yet, but I’ll be working on it over the next week or so. From what I can tell, the link updates as I make changes, so check back for updates.
Here’s the basic premise:
I tend to run very sandbox games, so I rarely plan adventures. Instead, I come up with a bunch of NPCs and factions, figure out what they're up to, and then let the players stumble across their schemes, hopefully in ways that encourage the players to either join them or oppose them. Sometimes the faction you need isn’t obvious, but you have some general ideas about what purpose the faction will serve in the story or how they operate. The Faction Chooser tool lets you answer a bunch of questions based on what you already know and eventually narrow your choices down to a specific type of faction.
For illustrative purposes, I’m going to offer at least one example for each faction type. Rather than mix and matching or trying to find a ficton everyone knows that has all of the different faction types, I’m going to pull a fantasy city out of my butt as I go along. It’s called The Red City and it’s located on the frontiers of a vast and decadent empire, far away from the center of power. The Red City is a major trade hub at the junction of a large river that flows from the capital to the sea and a trade route that leads through the Badlands of Kor to the Eastern Kingdoms. The ruler of the Red City in name is Prince Pharoshad (“Prince Ferrethead” to detractors), the Emperor’s son by one of his less favored wives. Since Pharoshad prefers enjoying the privileges of imperial birth to rulership, most of the day-to-day business of government in the Red City is carried out by his minions.