Factions and Power

Factions and Power #

This subsystem is about major powers, how characters are intertwined with their actions and machinations, and how they can be used in interesting ways.

Creating a Faction #

A Faction is an important power player in the setting. They can interact with individual PCs via Relationships, but they can also create impact upon the group as a whole as well as other Factions, creating a dynamic situation for the game as a whole. As such,


Machinations of Court and Frame #

We’ll be using a sample noble House, House Montrant.

When creating Factions, alongside generalities like name and description, you should come up with a handful of things:

Reason for Existence #

A Faction was usually gathered together for a reason, even if the original reason doesn’t match the current mode of operation.


Machinations of Court and Frame #

House Montrant is one of the newer Houses, founded by a bigger power as a way to control a certain planet.

Influence #

What the Faction can actually do is important. Sometimes this will be generalized around things like wealth or influence being able to buy many things, but sometimes this will be very specific.


Machinations of Court and Frame #

House Montrant is fairly militarily weak, though it has a few dedicated champions. Most of its influence comes from trade networks and connections rather than being able to apply force directly.

Common Knowledge #

These are the things that everyone knows about the Faction.


Machinations of Court and Frame #

Everyone knows that House Montrant is seeking to be the middleman and negotiator for as many interstellar trade agreements as possible. Their founder used to be a common trader who got into good graces with someone very prominent who could provide their position.

Known Goals #

These are the things that the Faction wants to accomplish. Short-term and long-term goals are both valid: short-term goals will change, while long-term goals are likely to stay the same until accomplished or change very slowly.


Machinations of Court and Frame #

Short-term, House Montrant is looking to acquire a more diverse portfolio of money-making ventures. Long-term, House Montrant wants a more prominent military arm rather than having to rely on allies or mercenaries, which requires more investment in military pipelines: recruitment, factories, deals with arms-makers, etc.

Allies and Enemies #

A Faction has very limited value without relations to other Factions. Designate at least one other Faction as an enemy and one as an ally. (They can have other enemies/allies but this is a particular one.)


Machinations of Court and Frame #

Given their status as new money, House Montrant has probably not gained many friends among older, prominent Houses. But maybe they’ve gained an ally among one older, prominent House using their mercenary ways to try to get back up on top.

Secrets #

This is anything that most people wouldn’t know about. These can be facts, goals, rumors, and so on. These could be damaging, embarrassing, or just obscure. The degree of secrecy (i.e. how many people know it) is also key.


Machinations of Court and Frame #

House Montrant’s biggest secret is that the founder sometimes provides arms and supplies to their patron’s rival under a proxy company, which is how they can be so ready to provide their patron key supplies at key times. If the connection were to be revealed, it would greatly damage their relationship. A lower-stakes secret is that their founder has more than a few illegitimate children, which could be a problem for succession if that were to come to light.

Using Factions #

Prompts #

Factions and their machinations are great fodder for prompts of things to respond to. Sometimes these prompts are bigger: plot hooks, major events, and such. Entire campaigns can be driven by Faction actions and interactions!

Consequences, and Twists #

But sometimes these are also relevant on a moment to moment basis, such as consequences and twists from generic resolutions.


Machinations of Court and Frame #

A pilot pulls some strings to ensure that their House can have more troops in a key battle, and provokes a consequence/twist. The GM decides that those troops were in a key place for the House they were taken from, causing increased casualties and damage in that area.

Relationships #

As noted in Relationships and Bonds, you can have Relationships between PCs and Factions. These are very likely to be somewhat one-sided: asking for significant help if you don’t have a strong enough relationship might have actual consequences.


Machinations of Court and Frame #

Trying to influence another House to do something can be dangerous or impossible. The scope of favor that you can ask is gated by the number of Bonds in the relationship, and a roll result that’s significantly higher than your number of Bonds can have drastic results.

Sometimes, a Faction relationship might be that they’re a patron or enemy of a whole group of characters rather than a more personal relationship with one of them. If so, treat this as a Relationship that’s group-wide: every character in the group can interact with it like they had it personally.