Sunday, June 3, 2012
Designing a Planet Part 8 - Powerful Factions
Yesterday was the last day that I had stuff for the funeral that I already mentioned so that will be the last time that I don't post for a legitimate reason though I am now working on catching up on all of the missed posts (including the one that I numbered) for the sake of showing you all that I am serious about trying to keep this updated regularly and to provide you with daily posts that will hopefully help you in your stories.
Also a shout out again to Graven Games for their recent article on FoW Aachen (I think that's how its spelled) where they go through all the parts of it piece by piece and what is good and bad about it. Make sure to check out their blog with the link to the right to see all sorts of other articles as well on great places for terrain for your games and everything else to do with the hobby.
Moving on the next step in fleshing out your planet is to determine what the powerful factions present on your planet are. Note that this is separate from government, I will be posting on that in a few posts, but these are everybody that has an interest in the planet, what their stake is, and how they are currently active on the planet or monitoring it with what they might do if their interests are threatened. Powerful factions are a real step in the direction of a completed planet because they provide a tool for you to use in just about any situation. A particularly influential group could act as an antagonist getting in the way of your characters or sponsoring the army on the opposite side of the tabletop, they could have been the culprits who manipulated events to have the Ork Waaagh! crash into the system to keep your army or the heroes occupied, the faction could be part of an even larger conspiracy that is system or sector wide. Powerful organizations can also be positive as well with being a sponsor of the good guys (providing weapons and equipment to the party, sending bodyguards for particularly dangerous missions, pulling strings and calling in favors to make sure no one interferes with what the protagonists are doing, etc.) as well as giving a goal for what the party can aspire to in the form of potentially joining the powerful faction and climbing its ranks. These are just some of the ways that Powerful Factions can be used, in reality their functions are infinite.
When creating a Powerful faction you need to remember everything that you have already done for determining what would make sense on the planet. Ask yourself first what the group's purpose is on the planet, what is their ultimate goal? In general this is going to be to gain as much power and influence as possible though this could be one of those rare organizations that are really only working for the good of everybody, or it could be an entirely sadistic group that wants to see the system brought down in flames with everyone slaughtered while they simply watch. After determining what the goal is you need to decide what type of people would make up the group, are they all part of the planetary elite, is it filled with thugs and crime lords, would it be composed of religious officials, how do the majority of members identify themselves? An additional benefit to this is it means that you could have a particularly interesting character that is part of the faction that is noticeable because of just how he does not fall into the normal niche and how he clearly has something to offer the group that they need even though they may not like having him with them (though necessity in the end triumphs over their desires). Similar to what the goal of the group is you need to determine what the interests of the group are, how are they planning on achieving their penultimate goal? This could include valuable minerals, forbidden xenos-tech that is being smuggled onto or off of the planet, figureheads in the government that are being used by the high echelons of society, or even other groups on the planet such as perhaps the people important to your story. What makes this so significant in creating your powerful faction is that you need to decide at what point will they act to protect their interests, how will they act, and with how much force? This goes with the final piece of creating your powerful faction and deciding how much power and influence they have. This is fairly obvious as you already decided that they were powerful (lesser factions will be discussed in the next post) but you need to determine what the greatest thing they can do or influence is, set boundaries so that you are consistent when utilizing the group and don’t try and cheat your players (if an RPG) out of a well done plan if it was not what you were hoping for. Scale the influence of the group with other groups you are planning on creating as well so that there can be interesting tension and political dynamics between competing groups that are all vying for dominance in the area, especially those factions that are competing over the same things. Perhaps you can incorporate a little comedy into your story by having these groups, who are all fighting and slaughtering each other wherever possible, pursue the exact same end so that all would benefit by the end result without them realizing what the others are doing.
Designing powerful factions 3 is a very good number because 3 allows for a better competitive aspect than just two because alliances can form and break quickly and without warning and so no one faction can be lax because of how it so clearly dominates the other faction. Feel free to make more than 3 but I simply suggest 3 because then you are not overworking yourself and burning yourself out of what you are doing because you had too much ambition. I will only create one group as you only need to witness the process of it. For the jungle planet one group is interested entirely in bringing this planet into the fold of Chaos, trying to corrupt everyone and to open up a warp rift to allow their masters from the Immaterium onto the planet and to have total rule over it for they are just their lowly servants. The people involved are those powerful figures in society, several mighty crime lords, a few influential priests of the God-Emperor, a couple military officers and generals, several administrators, and even an Ordos Malleus inquisitor. They are working on their plan by manipulating key figures of government, controlling the desires and actions of certain parts of the military, and funding themselves with drug smuggling. The full extent of their power is they can bring the planet to war with any other planet or group if they so desire for at least 5 years, after which point the government and others will question what the purpose and gain is and call it off if there is not obvious gain or threat. In general the protect their interests by subtle manipulation and a deployment of military forces to prevent problems from occurring or quiet assassinations of dissenters or those that are questioning their motives.