What are you doing with Faction Ratings?

Factions can go from -3 (at war) to +3 (they’re your allies!), but there’s not much mechanical weight behind it other than special rules for being at war, and an Entanglement that triggers if you’re +3 with anyone.

But what else are you doing, mechanically speaking?

So far in my game, I’ve kept a fiction-first approach. If they alter dice rolls at all, I just treat them as a +/-1 no matter what the rating. My thinking is that, as a narrative-structure perspective, I want to model allies’/enemies’ involvement, but I don’t want that to overshadow party actions. That said, I might use the absolute value of the relationship as the fortune roll pool if I want to determine the severity of the aid/hindrance sent their way.

Does this track with the spirit of the game? I feel like it does, but I’d love to hear what y’all think.

We didn’t really ever deal with them mechanically, but I think that’s a really good way to use them! I imagine you could also use them to help determine frequency of intervention in scores somehow; I could see rolling 1d6: on a 1-3, it’s a ±3 faction, on a 4-5 it’s a ±2 or 1 faction, on a 6 it’s a 0 faction, or something like that.

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Oh that’s really good. Considered that yanked!!

I use it to “inform the fiction” pretty much. They try to negotiate with this faction? -2 eh? Well that seems like it’s going to be tough!
I also use it to figure out who will be interfering, who would give the crew information etc.

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I think it would be interesting to use faction ratings in a way similar to icons in 13th Age.

I tend to use positive faction ratings to offer the crew jobs when they get marred by indecision on what they want to do (Which happens a lot, as the group is different each week), and negative faction ratings to inform entanglements.
They very rarely alter actual dice rolls, but more often will come up as area-specific complications, with positive crews asking for their assistance “since you guys are in the area…”, and negatives interfering or trying to play the occasion to their benefit.
I love the idea of using them as a dice pool for things, but my love of dice pools is already getting a bit unwieldy in our game.

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That’s a great idea, and one that I’ll be borrowing for my game as well.

Agree that it makes sense not to overshadow what the Crew is doing, especially at lower Tiers. They are already little fish in a small pond, so better to keep them at the center of the narrative than make them feel smaller. I imagine it will scale well also, as they rise in power.

5 Session in to running my first campaign, I noticed that my players have put a lot of effort into increasing their faction status, but they’ve never gone to their allies for help, and I’ve never spontaneously offered it, so they’ve gotten very little value out of it. I cooked up this system to put some mechanical weight behind status, and will be trying it out next session.

When you ask a friendly faction for a favor, roll dice = (Faction Satus - current Strain). On a 1-3, they won’t help. On a 4-5, you may take 2 Strain with that faction to get a free downtime action (acquire asset, long-term project, harm recovery, or training). On a 6, you may take a +1 result level on that downtime action. On a Critical, take 1 Strain instead of 2.

If you use this to acquire assets, use the allied faction’s tier if it’s LOWER than the crew’s tier. (A tier 1 faction can’t get tier 4 Assets for a tier 4 crew, and a tier 4 faction won’t give tier 4 assets to a tier 1 crew). If you use this to work a long-term project or recover from injury, use the faction’s tier as the action rating.

STRAIN
In addition to the above, PCs may also take Strain as a consequence or Devil’s Bargain during play. You may also take 1 Strain to use a friendly faction as a vice purveyor, or as a “friend or contact” when you need +1 die to a downtime or engagement roll.

At the end of each session, remove 1 Strain from each faction that you didn’t add Strain to during that session. Also remove 1 Strain when you give them a meaningful gift or favor, and remove all Strain when you improve your status.

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Mechanically we only use the “at war” status (only one downtime action).

But we put the faction status kan-ban-style on a whiteboard as a constant reminder how the factions will respond to the player characters. Every session we will adjust post-it according to what happend. And sometimes as a GM I change status for something that happend off screen.

Here is a pic of our whiteboard (if you cannot read something it’s either my handwriting or you don’t know german :wink:)

Seeing that I think I will change the numbers (indication mechanically Impact) to meaning (i.e. neutral, friendly, at war, …)

I’m still getting used to the system, but my current approach is to keep the world as reactive as possible, to put the burden of proactivity on the player characters.

In keeping with this approach, I’ve been using the faction statuses to decide when and how rival factions could impede the crew, as a result of their actions. Factions with negative status can pose problems in the following ways:
-1: worsened position for rolls involving the faction
-2: appearance/interference of the faction in the form of Complications
-3: Entanglements (Reprisal or Show of Force by the faction)

For factions with positive status, player characters might call on them for help, or benefit from an improved position for Action rolls, or the friendly faction might show up in the event of a critical success on a roll.

In any event, I’m shying away from giving other factions much in the way of independent agency. For now, they only affect events as a result of something the players do. (Likewise, I haven’t yet used any faction clocks.)

As part of my GM prep for the game on roll20 i made a faction sheet for every faction (mostly to hold clocks as outlined + some custom clocks) but did take a little extra time to put their allies and enemies on the faction list.

The default setup of Duskvol in the book only has one set of factions at war (red sashes and lampblacks) but did try to setup the faction status based on the fiction. I am trying to roll fortune rolls for each faction in roll20 for each downtime but can see that scoped much smaller as players get further into the campaign and they create more narrative than early on when its nice to drive the narrative via NPC factions.