I really like Factions but their implementation is frustrating. Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravenica offers alternatives but the setting appears to be even more high magic than the traditional Forgotten Realms.
So in running the Tyranny of Dragons adventure I made a few modifications to better fit what I wanted out of Factions.
I took full advantage of the visual aids available by way of Roll20 as this campaign started shortly after the COVID lockdown. This included the Faction Approval chart, use of color around named NPC tokens to identify their known Faction, and arranging the Faction representatives around the War Table in Waterdeep to suggest shared beliefs during the Council Meetings for PCs to indicate who they wanted to approach.
The adventure as written has several opportunities where the Factions invite the PCs to join them before they actually see what the Factions are about. It wasn’t something that directly interested them and as players, it was an unfamiliar part of the 5E universe both in nature and in mechanics. Then there is the whole potential strife of a Faction having their own secrets, rivalries and missions when the party is made of PCs belonging to different Factions. There are some great roleplay opportunities and an adventure like Tyranny are about the Factions coming together to fight a single major threat, but not all adventures are like that.
Faction Approval is written directly into this particular adventure so it didn’t take much modification to meet my needs. It didn’t require the PCs to be a member of these Factions but they were still in a position to benefit from working for them. As DM, I used the Faction NPCs to reflect the Faction attitude towards the PCs and to give voice to what was most important to their Faction (for my own convenience, I listed out three bullet points for each Faction NPC as there were several to juggle).
Technically, it was a meta-game mini-game to win over each of these Factions in order to gain these gifts and the eventual aid in the final battle (I was determined that this should play a significant part and not just be flavor of no consequence to the fight inside the Well of Dragons, but that’s a mechanic for another time). I looked at both the approval points needing for each representative to gain their full support and how many approval points could be potentially gained to rough out my own chart for how many points were needed for each approval rating (roughly 3 points per category and the opportunity for bonus points for finishing Faction specific goals).
Of course, this was more of a guide for me than hard and fast rules, and I had to be flexible enough to respond to special circumstances such as the Longboat to reach the Sea of Moving Ice becoming a permanent retainer to the Party. As always, find what works best for your table.
- Completing a Faction Related Quest
- The Faction gift of a single Uncommon Magic Item.
- The Faction leaves the War Council
- The Faction is openly hostile to the PCs and loudly speaks their demands to the War Council.
- When the PCs prepares to go on a War Council mission, each Faction at Neutral or better gifts a Healing potion at no cost.
- A Faction would gift the party a Single Use Uncommon Item as a sign of approval.
- Additional Uncommon Items appropriate to the Faction can be requested 500 gp, taking 1d6x5 days for the Faction to find.
- When the PCs prepares to go on a War Council mission, each Faction at Neutral or better gifts a Greater Healing potion at no cost.
- A Faction would gift the party a Single Use Rare item as a sign of approval.
- Additional Rare Items appropriate to the Faction can be requested 5,000 gp, taking 1d6x5 days for the Faction to find.
- A Faction would give access to a special resource or ability appropriate to the Faction.
- A Faction has agreed to commit special forces to the final battle.
- The same benefits as Trusted plus the Faction has agreed to put its full resources into the final battle.
Next time … What Gifts would the Faction make available to the PCs?