Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dungeon Faction Relationships

A really good dungeon, at least the larger ones, needs factions.  Folks have been posting about this for quite some time and I tend to agree with them. Factions set up play opportunities that are far more interesting than a simple dungeon crawl hacking everything in sight.  The interaction of dungeon factions leads to conflict that the players can get engaged in, exploit, ally with, cause trouble, or just plain fuck up when they cause enough problems that the factions throw aside their personal hatred and team up to kick the shit out the party.

This post is about the relationship among factions.  Creating factions is another subject entirely that I'm not going to get into - that tends to be quite specific to the GM and their game (style or mechanics). This table assumes for the most part that the relationships are not particularly pleasant and with a little push erupt into conflict and violence.

To start, make a matrix and roll 2d6 for each faction pair on the top half of the matrix.  Don't worry about the modifiers just yet - they come into play in the second set of rolling.  For this example, I've got 3 factions - The Almera, Betoin, and Capro - these don't mean anything yet - I want to get some relationships set up before deciding more details, so I'll roll up how:
  1. The Almera feels about the Betoin
  2. The Almera feels about the Capro
  3. The Betoin feels about the Capro
The Relationship Table
0 - 3
 4 - 5
6 - 7
8 - 9
 10 - 11 
 12 - 14

The results so far:



Honestly you could leave it like that, but a second round of rolling adds some complexity. Now roll for the relationship the Other Way. Roll 2d6 and add the modifier based on the initial relationship. For this example that means:

  1. The Betoin feels about the Almera, modified by how the Almera feels about the Betoin
  2. The Capro feels about the Almera, modified by how the Almera feels about the Capro
  3. The Capro feels about the Betoin , modified by how the Betoin feels about the Capro

Letting the dice fall where they may we end up the the following relationship matrix:

So lets put some results together:

The Betoin-Capro Relationship
These factions have a tenuous peace ... for now.

The Almera-Capro Relationship
These two factions are completely hostile to each other and engaged in all out conflict.  This likely stems from the fact that Capro have a long standing hatred of the Almera because of an act nearly forgotten known as "The Reaping".  This is setting up the Almera as the assholes of the dungeon.

The Almera-Betoin Relationship
For whatever reason, the Betoin believe they are allied with the Almera faction, but in secret the Almera faction is increbily hostile toward the Betoin.  This could be because of their peace with the Capro or, more like as I'm painting tham as the assholes of the dungeon, they are faking their alliance with the Betoin faction until such time that they are weakened, in which case the Betoin are going to get royally screwed over.

With 6 rolls and some thinking, we've got a nice bit of complexity that the players can walk into.  We can spice things up by adding some details with another random chart or two. Roll for things as you see fit.  I used a bunch of ideas from this blog post for inspiration and direct looting.

Faction Internal Relationship Details (d8)

  1. Are all in agreement under the leader
  2. Fear their leader
  3. A sub-faction wants to take over
  4. Many are unwillingly controlled by magic
  5. Are just trying to survive
  6. Just want to get out of here (to leave, to get to another area of the dungeon, etc.)
  7. Mutiny is at hand ... one little thing will set it off
  8. Are all of one mind under their prophet / god / ancient doctrine / programming

Neutral Ideas (d8)
  1. These folks know about a secret passage through the other's zone
  2. Really want a relic of some sort owned by the others
  3. These factions shares a resource (food, mining, magic, etc.)
  4. One faction knows a secret about the other ... a dangerous secret
  5. These two factions compete for the favor of a third faction / god / outside force
  6. One faction was the cause of the other being here
  7. One faction is actually frightened of the other, but would never admit it
  8. The two factions are recently in a non-conflict situation thanks to ?

Decidedly Non-Friendly Situations (d8)
  1. One faction captured the other's leader or important member
  2. These folks prey upon (for sacrifices, sport, or to eat) the other faction
  3. One faction stole the other factions magic and (un)holy whatnot
  4. Straight up competing for resources, like food or access
  5. One faction is currently or was previously the slaves of the other
  6. Some sort of misunderstanding
  7. A prophecy or message from their god said kill those other bastards
  8. One group controls access to a hidden area the other doesn't even know about