The Faction "War"


Pathfinder Society

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Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

deusvult wrote:

I honestly thought the events in Dalsine Affair were a prize awarded by faction performance reported in PFS up to that point.

It kind of takes the magic away to realize it wasn't.

So if I were the head of PFSOP, that's how I would do it. Once per year or so, issue a scenario revolving around how the winning faction makes the losing faction suffer.

In a way, Dalsine Affair was a direct result of faction performance.

Spoiler:
Andoran and Osirion were clear winners for the year, and Amenopheus played a large role in the Shadow Insurrection metaplot as a result. Andoran got a new faction symbol and Maldris got a promotion, and he's going to have some more spotlight moments in the future.

Cheliax, being last, is going to get a larger subplot next season, and despite it's low numbers, the paracountess was easily the most memorable character of all the factions heads. The pasha and Baron Jacquo weren't working, and the lack of recruitment to their respective causes illustrated that. So we got rid of them. Had either faction been a clear winner or the undisputed loser in the race for faction prestige, things would have played out differently.

Keep an eye on next season, when I plan to have several scenarios dedicated to specific factions and bringing their goals and plots to fruition (or failure) on the big stage.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Mark Moreland wrote:


Keep an eye on next season, when I plan to have several scenarios dedicated to specific factions and bringing their goals and plots to fruition (or failure) on the big stage.

.......Starting at the Paizo Con Grand Convocation!

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I think the current implementation of factions sends a conflicting message to players.

On the one hand, faction affiliation is required for each character and mission success is tied to a central mechanic (being able to buy gear). Being required and being tied to a central campaign mechanic send the message that "factions are really important".

Meanwhile, the missions seem to have little relevance, don't really affect much in-game, and feel like a random hodge-podge of skill checks from game to game. The message sent here is "factions exist in the background and are mostly irrelevant".

We need to pick one message and stick with it.

If the intended message is "factions are really important", then we need to make them feel important. Failing a mission (if we keep having missions) should mean something in-game, not between sessions (which is when all that fame-influenced purchasing is done). Faction missions feel like an out-of-character thing right now. Find a way to make factions relevant during gameplay.

If the intended message is instead that "factions exist in the background and are mostly irrelevant", then stop making them mandatory and break the connection between factions and purchasing power. But I don't think this is the goal.

Suggestion:
Faction missions' only tangible effect on a player's experience is his purchasing power, which is a largely out-of-character thing. If we want the factions to feel like they matter, let's have them affect actual gameplay instead.

What if sometimes an NPC was more willing to share extra information or loan specialized gear if a PC whose faction he favored was the one asking him? What if the Gather Information or Knowledge (local) DCs were substantially lower for PCs of a relevant faction?

Make it matter not only that you have a faction, make it matter which faction you represent. Right now everybody has a mission that earns them a point and nobody really cares whose mission it is or why it needs to be done. There's no sense of "identity" among the factions, so instead of "Andoran, Cheliax, Osirion, Qadira, Taldor, etc" you have "Faction, faction, faction, factionblahblahblah".

Sometimes it's really helpful if at least one person in the party speaks a given language or has a certain spell prepared, and it can be a hassle if they don't. Make it the same way with factions. Make each scenario have 2-4 places in it where PCs of a specific faction have the opportunity to make the scenario's main goal a little easier.

This way, factions feel relevant because it affects gameplay. Meanwhile, since there are no missions to fail or prestige to miss out on, no one's going to get upset and feel "gimped". If your party happens to not have any of the scenario's relevant factions, then you have to work a little harder. But that opens up more character concepts, and frankly won't bother too many people as long as the missed advantages aren't too enormous.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Alaska—Anchorage aka Dragnmoon

Michael Brock wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:


Keep an eye on next season, when I plan to have several scenarios dedicated to specific factions and bringing their goals and plots to fruition (or failure) on the big stage.

.......Starting at the Paizo Con Grand Convocation!

See, I have been asking for stuff on Grand Convocation, and have been getting Nothing!

This is what I was looking for...

Still want to know the format... Vision of "LARP" for some reason come to my head when I think about Grand Convocation and that would be something I want to stay away from.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Jiggy wrote:

What if the Gather Information or Knowledge (local) DCs were substantially lower for PCs of a relevant faction?

Depending where an adventure is set, this is already the case. Faction members get bonuses on Diplomacy checks made against members of their faction at a rate of +1 for every 10 points of Fame, and most factions have at least one Prestige Award that grants bonuses in other information gathering or social skills with a larger swath of NPCs based on location or nation of origin.

2/5

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This is a very tough question. Here are the facts:

1) Cooperation is expected in the Pathfinder Society organization.

2) Cooperation is expected by the players so we have a good time. Screwing each other over creates bad feelings at the table and will generate a PVP type sentiment.

Even non-cooperation will create bad feelings at the table. For example, if some guy refuses to help me with my faction mission and dies, there's no way I'm chipping in to pay for a Raise Dead for him.

3) The factions are "competing" against each other, which insinuates we want to be uncooperative with regards to faction missions. However, you can't hinder anyone else, so that makes the "competition" non-entertaining.

4) The power of our PCs is closely tied to PA/Fame, therefore if someone is unsuccessful with their faction , it directly impacts how effective that player will be in the future. This affects not only his PC, but the effectiveness of any group that PC joins in the future. It's in the group's best interest that each and every PC is successful.

5) Let's call them what they are, faction missions are side quests. They take up gaming time, so they had better add something to the experience and/or story, especially when most slots are only 4 hours long.

Eventually something has to give. Most groups help each other with their faction missions, because it's in the best interests of the players (#2), PFS (#1), and the group (#4) to do so. And there is no real faction war (#3).

All of my players in my home game have changed their faction to Shadow Lodge, so they are unified (they didn't like the faction conflict in a previous scenario, almost came to PVP which I didn't allow).

So where do we go from here?

Michael Brock wrote:
So, what can be done about it? What should be done about it?

Right now, most faction side quests are scenario time wasters. They don't really accomplish anything other than distracting from the main mission.

We can leave things as they are, or we can take a different approach:

1) Cooperative: Make faction missions officially cooperative. Faction missions will be for flavor only and these side quests will be because you're from a different country. The only time PCs are uncooperative are when they're from rival factions (Cheliax-Andoran, Taldor-Qadiran, Grand Lodge-Shadow Lodge, etc).

2) Competitive: Make missions competitive. Your PC gets more PA if your PC can make another (rival) PCs faction mission fail (without open warfare). The only way this makes any sense is if the faction results REALLY mean something, and Fame has no effect on what gear you can buy (because too much is at stake and it's no longer for 'fun').

Competition would have to be done sparingly, without open warfare (PVP). The problem is that it would have to be done very carefully, so it's risky because (poorly designed) faction missions could erode the goodwill between the PCs (and the players). On one hand, you'd want to keep your faction secret (if there was a rival faction at the table), on the other hand this option is risky and would require maturity on the part of the players as well as the GM. Perhaps best avoided.

3) Interesting/grey: Make the PCs do highly debatable actions during the course of the mission. I think this would be interesting and create some conflict without it degenerating into open warfare. Since the missions will be much more difficult and the other PCs don't necessarily have to help (or share your vision), I recommend that Fame NOT be associated with what equipment you can buy.

For example::

- Cheliax basically want to bring Hell-on-Earth. Typical missions might be releasing a devil from imprisonment. Or ensuring a portal to a plane in Hell remains open (from a certain season 1 scenario). They might convince a NPC to sign their soul away. They might draw a pentagram underneath someone's bed to make them susceptible to possession and/or control of their dreams.

- The Shadow Lodge wants the Decemvirate out of power. They're goals could involve finding out the true identity of members of the Decemvirate. They could uncover Decemvirate plots that are evil. They could track down "missing" artifacts. They could make the Decemvirate look bad. SL members could purposely allow (renegade/terrorist) shadow lodge members to escape (or go undetected), maybe even foiling the main mission.

- Silver Crusade should be regularly trying to make the party go out of its way to "do good" in the world, even if it means making our main quest that much harder. Sometimes, it will take a (small monetary) sacrifice on the PCs part to complete.

- Lantern Lodge could gain an artifact or steal something for Tian interests (even if it means running away from the party at the end of the scenario). Or even hide (Tian) knowledge from the other PCs. Anything that another country is interested in, Lantern Lodge should potentially be interested in. LL should potentially be in conflict with all factions of different countries imo.

- Andoran: Andorans are basically the "bad boys" of doing good and getting the job done. They would probably want to ensure people like drug lords, extortionists, and other bad people eliminated (not negotiated with).

- Qadiran: Qadirans on the other hand would probably want to negotiate with most opponents and then arrange a secret (trade) deal with them on the side (for letting them live).

- Osirian: Osirians are the ultimate mad scientists, how could a scientist without scruples cause problems in his hunt for knowledge? Using unknown arcane methods to test/poison/kill a certain population. Knowingly infect someone with a plague, so that it can be brought back and studied. Kill someone and preserve their body so they can be later dissected. Maybe they want some loot to stay in the tomb (meaning slightly less gold for the party).

- Taldor: The ultimate political schemers and spies, they should be causing conflict between NPCs. They should maybe even cause an argument between rival factions with the party. They should be trying to setup deals with powerful NPCs in Absalom or perhaps even bribe, seduce, or extort them. They should slip poison into unsuspecting political rivals food. Convince Andorans to assassinate someone for their own gain.

- Sczarni: Sczarni would perhaps be the most amicable to all of the factions, since they would help with anything "for a price". (It would help if you could transfer a (limited: 50g/lvl) amount of gold from PC to PC for faction missions, for bribes.) They could also be responsible for snatching loot while no one is looking, which could result in the party getting slightly less gold and the Sczarni getting slightly more gold if he wasn't caught.


With factions working this way, no one is going to reveal their faction!

But like I said, Fame should not affect equipment purchases in this case, because it's affect on a PCs power is just too strong. It would create bad (player) feelings when there's minor conflict at the table.

Also, the rules for "not directly interfering" would have to be strictly enforced, because factions would come into conflict with each other. For example, instead of directly interfering with each other, I think it would be ok if Cheliax talked to an NPC in private (to convince him to sign his soul away), and then the Andoran talk to the exact same NPC in private later (to convince him NOT to sign his soul away). They're conflicting, but not in open warfare.

Michael Brock wrote:
What should the results mean?

Well, the results from season 3 were going to be based on what % of PCs from X faction gain PA. So there would be a clear "winner" from that result. Maybe the faction "score" should be: 50% (number missions complete) + 50% (% success of missions), so that we don't take quantity over quality.

Obviously, if a certain faction has won the faction war for the year, the plot of the campaign should be adjusted to show that they're winning the war, and perhaps a scenario should be written with that in mind.

For example:

- Cheliax: There's a little hell on earth. Maybe a college dedicated to devil studies is allowed to exist in Absalom. Several key politicians and judges are actually possessed, dedicated, or extorted by devils/Cheliax (which could have unknown effects).

- Shadow Lodge: A member of the Decemvirate is revealed and/or removed.

- Silver Crusade: The world is a better place, less crime, and more cooperation within the populace. Perhaps the good guys have enough manpower to launch a crusade against one of the "bad/monster nations".

- Lantern Lodge: Tian gets a strong political representative in Absalom and officially joins the faction war. A strong portal opens between Absalom and Tian. Tian terrorists start creating unrest in other countries. Many warriors "disappear" after attending the Tournament of the Ruby Phoenix (and it's not because they found Tian wives. Sorry, had to go there.).

- Andoran: The leader of a smaller nation/city is overthrown/assassinated. Unrest and riots are created in a country with democracy as a possible future. Cheliaxian deception is uncovered and destroyed. Large terrorist operations occur in some countries, possibly even liberating a city in a main faction.

- Qadiran: Each Qadiran gains an extra 100g per level. Qadiran customs start becoming the norm in Absalom. Commodity prices fluctuate widely (all consumable cost +10%). Sudden influx of Qadiran immigrants into Absalom could influence the culture of NPCs in future seasons.

- Osirian: A major artifact is found and will be tested. Osirian becomes more prosperous with better farming practices, water, engineering. An entire village in Qadira mysteriously dies and Qadiran officials become "easier to deal with".

- Taldor: Taldor gains back a part of one of their lost nations (through negotiation, bribes, extortion, warfare). Absalom sides with Taldor in various arguments over territory and rights. Qadira and Osiria openly declare war on each other.

- Sczarni: Each Sczarni gains an extra 100g per level. Sczarni gain political control over a city in one of the nations. Everyone in Absalom becomes easy to bribe (-10%). Encounters with thugs/criminals are 20% more difficult (or they carry certain gear).

That's just an example, I'm sure you can come up with your own ideas.

Also, if you wanted to award members of the faction, you could create a mini-scenario (1-2 hour scenario) each year for whatever faction that wins. This mini-scenario wouldn't give the faction any XP, but it would give gold and PA.

Michael Brock wrote:
How can we make factions, their missions, and the competition between them matter?

By having some conflict, without it being open warfare. See my interesting/grey spoiler above.

This actually means breaking the link between Fame and gear though, because too much is on-the-line with that in place.

Michael Brock wrote:
Should we even try?

The easiest thing to do is "stay the course". However, many people feel that faction missions are time killers in scenarios and are indifferent to them. Rarely do they add to the story because they're so vanilla. In their current format, they don't "hurt" anything, but they certainly don't make things more interesting and consume time during sessions.

The second easiest thing to do is to remove factions altogether. My home group wouldn't have a problem with that and I've felt many times that the scenario would have been better without any faction missions at all. Having said that, one of our most memorable PFS experiences was when a PC minorly screwed over the rest of the PCs while completing a faction mission, so I have mixed feelings about this. But that was 1 scenario out of 11, so it's rare.

The most difficult solution (with the most upside and risk) would be to keep the factions, but have them behave either cooperatively, competitively, or in interesting/grey ways (see my post above). Making the faction missions non-vanilla is slightly risky, however it's a lot easier to reverse this process if it's not working out. For example, you can have a few scenarios to test whether this concept works or not without making wide scale sweeping changes (like removing all faction missions).

The Exchange 5/5

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something cool that I've seen at a table in a scenario recently was to have one of the other players say, "I have reason to beleave that we may be encountering undead in this adventure - intellagent undead. Just something I've heard... we might want to be prepared for it."

At first I thought it was the PLAYER saying it and was busy blotting it from my thoughts, when I realized that it was "In Character", the PC telling the other PCs. Then it was, wow-how does he know that?, AH! Faction briefing! that made me go back to mine to see if I could contribute something - and sure enough there was a little tidbit I could drop into conversation. Suddenly it was cool to have more than one faction at the table. We were "Farming Contacts" to see what we could turn up about the upcomeing adventure. We were, in a way, making a knowledge (faction) roll, gathering information.

I'd like to see more things like that...

Sovereign Court

Since starting to GM PFS Scenarios, I've come to the conclusion that the most positive aspect of faction-quests is to give players a tangible reason to fully explore scenarios.

I'd like to see more faction vs faction stuff going on, but keeping that from denigrating into player vs player is imo largely impossible. At least within a regular, recurring system.

I used to be a big Legend of Five Rings fan, loving the 'what happens in tourneys/games affects the game world' angle. Until I realized that the company wasnt about to have anything actually bad happen, because they didn't want to alienate fans of those factions. The moment that killed L5R for me was when a story arc put up my chosen favorite faction as a potential for 'winning' L5R. Will they rule the empire, or will everyone else gang up to stop them? Let the players decide!

Yeah, doesn't take a crystal ball to know which way that one was gonna go. Not only can nothing permanently bad happen, nothing permanently good can happen. Not unles you're truly willing to take off the kid gloves.

Knowing your faction (and potentially, more importantly your PA) is on the line and potentially going to be obliterated makes for a different Society than one where you know that whatever bad things happen, the writers won't let my faction/PA go away.

Suggestions for how to run either depend on which sort of game M&M want to run.

Silver Crusade

My opinion is, you need to make the factions matter. I see it as conflicts, but perhaps the campaign management can find something else. But, if there is no conflict, no real purpose to being in different factions, then I would rather see them cut and players gain 3 PA every two sessions, or the WBL curve becomes level dependent. Faction missions take up valuable time and can be divisive, and if they serve no purpose, then as a GM, I would rather see them cut.

2/5

So I've gotten around to reading some comments. Some people are saying that faction missions need to be secret and creative solutions should be removed. The problem with that is:

1) It unfairly penalizes classes with limited skill points (Fighters, Paladins in particular) and unfairly awards classes that "do it all" (Summoners, Alchemists, Magus). I think it would really suck to fail your faction mission time after time, especially if it affects gear. Players will respond to the challenges we give them, if you want to see a sudden influx of those classes, by all means make that change.

2) Fame is extremely important, since it affects gear. If you're going to increase the challenge level of faction missions, don't link it to gear. It's enough just to penalize PP (which equates to gp).

3) If your players are already complaining about the difficulty of some missions, even with help, it makes no sense at all to make it more difficult. I think you'd see player pushback and people quitting.

I also think it would move more players towards selecting only a single faction for their usual gaming group (my group did this already). It would hurt faction diversity.

Whatever is done, I hope a lot of thought goes into it, because even with good intentions, it could be a disaster.

Silver Crusade

I have one of those skillless characters and I out of 36 possible fame, I have 35. The only one I lost was to Midnight Mauler and I being a paladin and at the time Andoran, obviously had an issue with my task.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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I probably shouldn't be posting, but as an author sometimes you see things from a different perspective.

This is a little off-topic, because its about Faction Missions in general. Out of respect to Mike Brock, I put it behind a spoiler tag, but please reply if you like! I am really reading reviews (even the ones not belonging to me), and the comments about what people like.

Spoiler:
Speaking for myself, our Developer was quite candid in saying 'if your faction missions suck, you're going to hear about it from the community. So try to make them cool and interesting.. with as little contrived errand running as you can manage.'

As some of you noticed, 10 faction missions is tough, especially if you're striving to make them interesting. Because honestly, one factor in making interesting faction missions is word count. We get a roughly 12,000 word budget, and there is a delicate balance in how much you can dedicate to the faction missions. You can't scrimp, but you can't splurge either.

By having faction missions that require some secrecy among the factions, you can try for what is considered to be an interesting mission, without necessarily demanding PVP. As an author, that's what I like about faction secrecy. Its one more way to avoid a contrived mission. Something to think about!

As for the Faction War specifically:

I see a repeated pattern.

There is discussion concerning whether overall faction success will have an impact. After the season, for whatever completely valid and legitimate reasons the concrete consequences of that faction's efforts seldom or never materializes in something the community actually sees, hears about, or otherwise experiences.

So consider this...

What if the consequences of success was somewhat hinted and disclosed at the start of the Season, instead of revealed mysteriously at the end of the Season? That is; we list a campaign objective for each faction. and All the players know what those objectives are OOC upfront at the start of the season. This is critical- what each faction has a known goal, and the players are working towards bringing that about.

Now, the Developers don't have to outline all the consequences and the fallout of success and failure. They can save quite a bit for the end of the season for the purposes of dramatic storytelling! Sometimes things don't always work out as we expect!

And the consequences of these objectives do not necessarily have to reward or punish any single faction player. That way no player needs to feel personally screwed over.

For example: If the Shadow Lodge succeeds over all factions in Season 4, the VC of the Grand Lodge is exposed as forcing agents to risk their lives unnecessarily at the whims of the Decemvirate, and he is forced to step down as a VC entirely (for at least one season to follow). Next season can deal with his replacement, or even explore what Ambrus is doing in the background having lost his position.

Now in that example, no Grand Lodge player suffers a personal penalty, and no Shadow Lodge player gets any special benefit. Nevertheless, everybody had an impact on the story. And because they know what they're striving for- they have a goal to excited about in striving to complete their faction mission (besides the prestige point). You have the ability to root for your team, and look for the downfall of your rival. The fate of a VC is only one possibility among many.

And you can also have consequences for faction seasonal failure, and moderate performance- and you need not disclose those, again so that there are surprises for the end of the season.

This also allows an occasional mission to touch upon the meta-plot. Obviously they all can't in every scenario, but you can do a couple here and there for each faction to keep the focus. Success for a faction is also a measure of their influence to bring about these objectives, whether any one specific mission was about the 'end goal' or not.

These are just some ideas. Pardon my rough grammar, fast sentences, and thank you for allowing me to spitball ideas with the players.

Jim

Silver Crusade

My opinion short and simple: I do not like the idea.

If you want us to play cooperatively, a faction war can easily divide players and can result in intentional cock blocking which could lead to PvP which is a bigger violation.

If anything I personally think that factions should be more cooperative instead of competitive, but I have to leave that to the higher judgement. Or at least they should be written better, to prevent misinterpretation.

That's just my two coppers.

Silver Crusade

Lady Ophelia wrote:

My opinion short and simple: I do not like the idea.

If you want us to play cooperatively, a faction war can easily divide players and can result in intentional cock blocking which could lead to PvP which is a bigger violation.

If anything I personally think that factions should be more cooperative instead of competitive, but I have to leave that to the higher judgement. Or at least they should be written better, to prevent misinterpretation.

That's just my two coppers.

So, what do you see the factions doing in the future? I think I'm going to create a spin off thread for people to discuss how to make a faction war work, while avoiding the normal BS of competition.

Dark Archive 4/5

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KestlerGunner wrote:

Every faction should have a mission that should change the canon setting of Golarion. If that faction wins the Faction War of the season, that mission should be achieved.

EG:
Shadow Lodge mission Season 4: Uncover the identity of one of the Decemvirate.
Cheliax mission Season 4: Introduce a permanent Erinyes noble into Absalom society, complete with enormous influence over Absalom politics.
Andoran mission Season 4: Replace all Absalom town guard with Eagle Knights, and have Absalom's security privatised into their hands.

So, my Grand Lodge hero might actually like the SL mission for that season, and this would influence RPing.

Of course, if Paizo don't want the canon setting changed at all, there's no point in arguing this. Nothing can happen and it'd be best reduced to a +2 to something.

This sounds like the best way to do it. If a faction wins, it means something, but they won't exactly dominate the other factions.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

what if faction mission DC's were dependent on opposition faction skill ranks?

For Example:

Cheliax has to secretly convince a slave to return to home.

Andoran has to secretly convince a slave to become a spy.

So the DC for Cheliax would be Intimidate 10 + highest number of ranks of Diplomacy of Andorans at table.

The DC for Andoran would be Diplomacy 10 + highest number of ranks of Intimidate of Chelaxians at the table.

Grand Lodge

Totes agree with Jim Groves post.

If we keep the Faction's Season Missions relatively civilized and not a matter of life and death (it's a shadow war, after all) I couldn't see the tables I play with engaging PVP mode.

So we should never have a public and clearly communicated mission of:
'If Qadira wins, Baron Jacquo will be neutralized'

This would set the cat amongst the pigeons and although the RPing and stakes would be enormous (I'd personally love it), the level of PVP in faction missions would be overwhelming. Heroes would be freaking out at every step to ensure the Chelish heroes don't succeed their faction missions that would lead to the death of their beloved leader.

~~~

We also need clearer motives and descriptions of our current Faction leaders. I'd argue the Paracountess and Grandmaster Torch are fully realized, but the rest of them definitely are not. Why are they interested? What do they want? Are they fat or thin? What class are they? What motivates them? What's their background? Too often they just become animated mouthpieces of the faction goals. Actually liking your Faction leader can go a long way.


What about leaving the faction missions out of most scenarios, and then have the remaining be entirely faction-based? It might allow greater coordination of the meta-plot/what-have-you.

P.S. I quite like Jim Groves' notions above as well.

Admittedly my experience with PFS is very limited thus far, but the faction material in each of the sessions I was able to play in felt more like clutter than icing.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

I don't play PFS but I like reading the posts about it because I find the "shared game" nature of it interesting. So the following might be completely off base and may not be supported by the current backend.

Every quarter, declare which faction is the most successful (or top three factions).

Every player that reports a scenario during that period gets a boon. This reward is independant of faction.

This boon is either set up such that:
the bonus it grants will most likely be used by the winning faction (or factions that fall close to it on a goal/outlook scale)
OR
it provides one bonus for everyone and a greater bonus for characters of the faction that "won".

I think the first of those options is more interesting (since it could get players to roleplay doing things they don't want to because they get a benefit to it), but the second is easier to do (since it may be hard to come up with options that are obviously flavored to a specific faction).

Now, obviously the bonus shouldn't result in a nasty positive feedback loop where the faction that "wins" in one quarter is then much more likely to "win" in the next quarter. So balancing them properly will be important.

Now this doesn't eliminate PvP problems that may occur, but does provide everyone with a benefit for participating in the faction "war".

Sovereign Court

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Factions work for me by giving me a personal stake in the session.

Without a faction mission I can go on autopilot until the next combat - leaving the society mission to my tablemates. But, with a faction mission, that no one else at the table is looking out for I have a motivation to pay attention. When I pay attention I am a contributing and interacting player at the table.

So, I think faction missions tend to improve player engagement and thus the play environment overall for PFS.

In my recent experience my fellow players with different factions have been willing to help each other out. I don't have to pay attention to your mission, but when you need a wing man to cover a gap in your skills then I'm happy to help - and contribute to the fun.

I think a zero sum faction war dampens the cooperative instinct at the table - and as a consequence dampens the fun.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Michael Brock wrote:
Faction missions are going to change in focus and become harder to achieve in Season 4. What I'm asking for here is how we should proceed with the faction war, if at all.

The major arguing point you brought up in another thread was that the cooperative nature of the Society has to run over faction concerns. I don't see that as compatible with heating up the current chess game between factions, (which it really is at this point) to an all out war.

You can have the intrigue, but only if you're willing to have real player conflict, like the various factions did in Arcanis. (You might actually want to consider a talk with the folks in Paradigm as they actually have experience with running a multi-faction network campaign.)

If you want intrigue, then you are going to have cases where players will be trumping other players to fulfill their missions. That however was hard to balance with 5 factions, it's going to be near bloody impossible with 10.

At this point, unless you want to undo the 5 faction addition that was made last year, I'd advise that you chalk it up as a missed opportunity and move on to other areas of the campaign.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

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roedog wrote:

Factions work for me by giving me a personal stake in the session.

Without a faction mission I can go on autopilot until the next combat - leaving the society mission to my tablemates. But, with a faction mission, that no one else at the table is looking out for I have a motivation to pay attention. When I pay attention I am a contributing and interacting player at the table.

So, I think faction missions tend to improve player engagement and thus the play environment overall for PFS.

In my recent experience my fellow players with different factions have been willing to help each other out. I don't have to pay attention to your mission, but when you need a wing man to cover a gap in your skills then I'm happy to help - and contribute to the fun.

I think a zero sum faction war dampens the cooperative instinct at the table - and as a consequence dampens the fun.

This is an excellent observation, and one I see a lot as a GM: faction missions keep people engaged in the game.

I've been asking the players in my store what they think, and so far everyone has said that they like the factions and the identity the factions give to their characters.

One of my players commented that everyone in the United Nations can be considered as part of a faction. There are plenty of things that they are at odds about. But at no point do they walk into that chamber intending to shank the guy from the other country. More often than not, they are working on a common goal; they just approach it differently. I think that's an excellent way to state how factions work for PFS.

I will reiterate what I think: without the factions, PFS is just another organized play system without an identity. Please keep them.

Shadow Lodge

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deusvult wrote:


I used to be a big Legend of Five Rings fan, loving the 'what happens in tourneys/games affects the game world' angle. Until I realized that the company wasnt about to have anything actually bad happen, because they didn't want to alienate fans of those factions. The moment that killed L5R for me was when a story arc put up my chosen favorite faction as a potential for 'winning' L5R. Will they rule the empire, or will everyone else gang up to stop them? Let the players decide!

Yeah, doesn't take a crystal ball to know which way that one was gonna go. Not only can nothing permanently bad happen, nothing permanently good can happen. Not unles you're truly willing to take off the kid gloves.

Knowing your faction (and potentially, more importantly your PA) is on the line and potentially going to be obliterated makes for a different Society than one where you know that whatever bad things happen, the writers won't let my faction/PA go away.

Suggestions for how to run either depend on which sort of game M&M want to run.

As a former L5R player (whose clan would have been wiped out had the kid gloves been off, look at my PFS characters to figure out which one) I can see that.

1) It should be a gradual process over 1-2 seasons of weak performance (perhaps with a 'war is not going well' warning) before the Qaidirans take Constantinople so to speak. That way we know a faction doesn't have enough fans to be alienated.

2) It should be done in such a way that whatever happens, it was well fought.

3) Characters should not loose all PA, just take a PA 'recruitment penalty' into a new factions and possibly be eligble for a unique boons such as siege of Oppara Veteran, government in exile agent etc.

4) New factions should arise as a direct consequence of the fall of another faction, for example, if Oppara were to fall, the Green Faith decides to take a more active role in the world, becoming a playable faction because the Verduran Forest, formerly protected by treaty with the now non existant Taldor, is under threat.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

I like Kerney's ideas. Especially the "unique boons" part of #3.

Of course, winners of the war should get unique boons, too.

2/5

I think it's highly unlikely that a faction "would get wiped out", especially if it's an entire country. It would take a catastrophic event. The only faction that has a chance of realstically being wiped out is the Shadow Lodge.

I think the writers should be able to write engaging, interesting stories and faction missions without wiping out an unpopular faction. Too much change sometimes isn't a good thing, and as much as you think Qadira is unpopular (or any other faction), I'm sure some people like it.

PS. Don't even joke about destroying the Taldor faction. :)

Grand Lodge 5/5

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Jason S wrote:

I think it's highly unlikely that a faction "would get wiped out", especially if it's an entire country. It would take a catastrophic event. The only faction that has a chance of realstically being wiped out is the Shadow Lodge.

Don't be so sure..........

5/5 Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

One of the biggest benefits I find for factions missions is they cause players to pay more attention. Instead of merely riding the adventure roller coaster until they get to the end, they pay attention to descriptions and clues to make sure they complete their mission.

While this obviously isn't 100% true I know it influences me to pay more attention to my surroundings.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Mark Moreland wrote:
Managing a plotline for 10 different factions across over 30 annual adventures written by dozens of authors is really tough, is what I'm saying.

This is a prime reason for choping down the number of factions. Five seamed to work okay, but 10 is too many.

The surviving factions don't have to be the same five that the PFS started with. Just because a faction "loses" the Shadow War does not mean that the attached nation disappears.

Jason S wrote:
PS. Don't even joke about destroying the Taldor faction. :)

Actually, I think that Taldor would be a wonderful candidate for reduction.

Shadow Lodge

Jason S wrote:
PS. Don't even joke about destroying the Taldor faction. :)
Lord Fyre wrote:
Actually, I think that Taldor would be a wonderful candidate for reduction.

Taldor also struck me as the most likely canidate for reduction based on the storyline presented. That's why I used it as an example and did so in the way I did.

Silver Crusade

I could easily think of story reasons to wipe out several of the factions. Cheliax could lose control over all those devils. The Scarzni leaders could get arrested/killed by the authorities. Even the Grand Lodge faction could go down if the Decemvirate were overthrown by the Shadow Lodge.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Lord Fyre wrote:
Five seamed to work okay, but 10 is too many

I disagree. Ten works just as well. When we only had five, we had a vocal minority that wanted more choices. Now we have them and there is a vocal minority that says too many. I would submit that those two groups are roughly the same size, with the vast majority of the community not really caring either way.

Personally, I prefer more factions. It's just like more classes, more feats, more spells, etc. More factions means more choices to tailor your character to the way you envision it.

The Exchange 5/5

I could easily see a PC that belonged to more than one faction.

I realize this would be a problem the way we work it now, but think on it a minute. A Taldor noble with Scarzni contacts.... playing go-between for the two factions....

just something to think about

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Bob Jonquet wrote:
When we only had five factions, we had a vocal minority that wanted more choices. Now we have them and there is a vocal minority that says too many. I would submit that those two groups are roughly the same size, with the vast majority of the community not really caring either way.

Weird how that works, isn't it? Also: excellent justification for being very careful how much you listen to whatever vocal minority is being vocal at the moment. (-;

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

nosig wrote:

I could easily see a PC that belonged to more than one faction.

I realize this would be a problem the way we work it now, but think on it a minute. A Taldor noble with Scarzni contacts.... playing go-between for the two factions....

just something to think about

The idea of being a double-agent appeals to me so much that I've already done it. My Chelaxian does pretty much anything except whatever mission the Paracountess gave her. She does whatever mission invokes Asmodeus or national security, to maintain appearances, but that is it. Meanwhile, she'll happily help out anyone who asks for help with their mission, no matter what it is.

I would love to see this option, but already feel sorry for the poor folk who try to implement it with any kind of eloquence.

The Exchange 5/5

Drogon wrote:
nosig wrote:

I could easily see a PC that belonged to more than one faction.

I realize this would be a problem the way we work it now, but think on it a minute. A Taldor noble with Scarzni contacts.... playing go-between for the two factions....

just something to think about

The idea of being a double-agent appeals to me so much that I've already done it. My Chelaxian does pretty much anything except whatever mission the Paracountess gave her. She does whatever mission invokes Asmodeus or national security, to maintain appearances, but that is it. Meanwhile, she'll happily help out anyone who asks for help with their mission, no matter what it is.

I would love to see this option, but already feel sorry for the poor folk who try to implement it with any kind of eloquence.

not the double agent... the guy getting paid by both sides. He's got to do both faction missions... or better yet has to figure out what they want without the mission briefing and then afterword go get them to pay him... "hmmmm, ships logs. Bet Qadira would pay for these - wait, hauling slaves? Well, guess I'll be selling a copy to the Eagle knights too."

5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I don't know if this has been said before, or if it would complicate matters, but:

What about awarding half a point if the player got help for a faction mission? This still allows for some rivalry, as those who succeeed on their own will get the full award.

Silver Crusade

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
Five seamed to work okay, but 10 is too many

I disagree. Ten works just as well. When we only had five, we had a vocal minority that wanted more choices. Now we have them and there is a vocal minority that says too many. I would submit that those two groups are roughly the same size, with the vast majority of the community not really caring either way.

Personally, I prefer more factions. It's just like more classes, more feats, more spells, etc. More factions means more choices to tailor your character to the way you envision it.

As a new player to PFS after the expansion to 10, I do think 10 factions is a tiny bit unwieldy. Not enough to complain about if it hadn't been brought up, but I don't think it's an ideal amount. But 5 would bug me for not having enough choices. I'm thinking that 8 would be my ideal, but I'm ok with the current 10, as too many choices is always better than not enough.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

nosig wrote:
not the double agent... the guy getting paid by both sides. He's got to do both faction missions... or better yet has to figure out what they want without the mission briefing and then afterword go get them to pay him... "hmmmm, ships logs. Bet Qadira would pay for these - wait, hauling slaves? Well, guess I'll be selling a copy to the Eagle knights too."

An excellent idea, as well. However, there is already a lot of talk about how much of a "time sink" these missions are. Apply that kind of complication, and that aspect gets worse. I'd love to see it, though.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

I have a beef with the faction war, since it does not actually contribute to intrigue, it contributes to the victory and primacy of whichever faction has the sympathetic vote each season. Now that would be cool and all if that vote changed every year, but, not surprisingly, the top dog is usually either Andoran or Silver Crusade, since they are viewed as less cutthroat than the other ones and many people seem to forget that, for instance, Andoran practices proxy wars, sponsors privateers and allows heinous organizations like the Lumber Consortium to exist and instead just go with the cool abolitionist vibe or the overtly nice image. In the end hey both are the token "good" factions in a way, easy to flock to.

Now if there were meaningful prizes for being neutral or evilish or cutthroat other than fluffy ones or if the token good factions suddenly had less savory missions, then we might see a change in the faction war, but as long as it's only about who you want to win for story reasons, the "good" will win in the end. The benevolent will always have both the popular vote and the sympathetic vote.

That said though, hail Andoran, couldn't do without them. Silver Crusade can go rot in a hole in the ground though. We had a good, grey morality thing going on before, but now there's a shining beacon in town. Can't do shadow wars with shining beacons fer chrissakes.

Silver Crusade

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Muser, as I mentioned earlier (might have been in the other thread), this is why I recommend basing each year's "winner" in the shadow war on percentage of faction missions completed, not quantity. That way, it's an effectiveness contest, not a popularity contest.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Two thoughts I have about making factions more meaningful and the competition between factions more interesting without making it outright hostile are as follows:

First, give the factions their vary own scenario each season. Only PCs of that faction are eligible to play. While providing 10 special scenarios each season like this would probably screw up the production schedule pretty good, it could be limited to only factions that achieve a set number of faction missions by the end of the season; or probably more realistically, the overall winning faction each season could get their vary own scenario in which the PCs are sent to accomplish their faction's overall goal for the season.

Second, what about incorporating faction-specific advantages into scenarios. Something that doesn't pertain the faction mission itself, but that is provided in the faction briefing so other factions aren't aware of it. Not every faction needs this in every scenario, and it wouldn't be something that is required to successfully complete the scenario, but just make it slightly easier. For example, perhaps the Chelaxians have a contact in the next city who can provide information about a secret way to access the abandoned church the party is headed to; or the Shadow Lodge has an item that it will loan out to reveal the location of a specific trap; or meeting with an Andoran spy that can reveal a surprise ability that the crime lord likes utilize in combat.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

Brett McLean wrote:


First, give the factions their vary own scenario each season. Only PCs of that faction are eligible to play. While providing 10 special scenarios each season like this would probably screw up the production schedule pretty good, it could be limited to only factions that achieve a set number of faction missions by the end of the season; or probably more realistically, the overall winning faction each season could get their vary own scenario in which the PCs are sent to accomplish their faction's overall goal for the season.

As a coordinator, If I had to schedule games for my players based off their faction, as well as their levels, I would probably gouge my eyes out with some piece of cookware. I like what's suggested below, though.

Quote:


Second, what about incorporating faction-specific advantages into scenarios. Something that doesn't pertain the faction mission itself, but that is provided in the faction briefing so other factions aren't aware of it. Not every faction needs this in every scenario, and it wouldn't be something that is required to successfully complete the scenario, but just make it slightly easier. For example, perhaps the Chelaxians have a contact in the next city who can provide information about a secret way to access the abandoned church the party is headed to; or the Shadow Lodge has an item that it will loan out to reveal the location of a specific trap; or meeting with an Andoran spy that can reveal a surprise ability that the crime lord likes utilize in combat.

Sovereign Court 5/5 RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Ok, first my pet Peeve with the faction missions, (in my experience) is the Silver Crusade can't get morally grey-to-black missions like everyone else. I see this as a bug, not a feature.

Ok, now that that is out of the way.

Mission style: While I'd like to see the concept of the Shadow War go by the wayside, I do like the faction missions. I'd like to see them more open ended. Talyn is from Taldor, but a Magus is not really 'suitable' to the current skill focused Taldor missions. He *will* help Taldor missions if he can, since he's from there, but that's a RP thing.

Co-op missions: We kind of have these if you're using old adventures, as the 5 new factions 'piggy back' onto the older ones. Going forward it might be nice to see a mission like, "Grand Lodge: This person stole these papers from the vaults, bring them back. Shadow Lodge: This person stole these papers from the vaults. While we have copies we don't want to see the Decembervate think they're compromised, get them back to the grand lodge." Or Andoran freeing slaves (*rolls eyes*) and Taldor having a mission to free a slave and not caring what happens to the rest.

Recruiting. This is more for new players, but a 'buddy system' might be something to track. For example I've my niece (definately) and my nephew (maybe) interested. I'm hoping to get more friends. They've not picked factions yet. Maybe some kind of referral program. Kind of a "Matt got two recruits for Taldor, Taldor gets a bonus point" kind of thing. I know the problem might make things worse for the Blue Falcons lead, but it's a thought. Maybe limit it to the 'bottom 4' groups. So recruiting kids for Andoran wouldn't give a benefit, but "Children for Cheliax" would.

More thoughts later.

Sovereign Court

I only just stumbled onto this thread, but I figured I'd offer my opinions on the matter.

I like the idea of faction missions, and having a "faction war". But obviously it needs to be done in a way that will encourage people to still help each other while trying to promote the status of their faction.

The best way to accomplish this is to disassociate faction missions with extra points for Fame/PA, and introduce a Victory Point mechanic that someone else has mentioned. Getting a VP doesn't do anything for your character immediately, but spreads the prestige of your faction. Only one VP can be achieved per adventure, with one faction getting the VP. It can be put specifically into the adventure (the person with the highest Diplomacy roll gets the VP) or it can be GM discretion (whoever helps out the little orphan the most gets the VP, because it was really a powerful noble halfing in disguise).

At the end of the year, if one faction meets a certain threshold of VPs, players of that faction get a minor reward that can be used in the future. The higher the VP, the better the reward for people within a faction.

The trickiest part is ensuring that any faction can get 1st place, and it isn't dependant on the numbers of people within one faction.

Dark Archive

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Five New Factions in Play 
Ten Factions there be in All

But there remains One True Master 
To bring Order and Rule above them All

In the Infernal Land of Cheliax 
Where Even Your Very Shadow Lies

Let the other factions have their petty prestige, their fleeting fame, their withered laurels and baubles in boons.

We of Cheliax will have to content ourselves with Ruling the World entire.

Eternally.

Infernally.

The Exchange

Shame that Qadira will own the trade routes... Just saying.

:)

Dark Archive

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Naturally.

How else could Qadira be able to afford to pay its tithes and tributes to Cheliax?

The Exchange

Yes... Pay...

Liberty's Edge

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I would suggest that the year's winning faction be awarded the opportunity for its characters of level 5 or higher to participate in one special faction-only mission which would have much greater risks and rewards. The mission's free player reward could be a choice of one of three unique special items/artifacts. The disadvantage of voluntary partipation would be that character death in this mission only would be final- with no opportunity to restore the character to PFS play.

Sovereign Court 5/5 RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

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I thought I'd add a bit more.

World building: While I do think there needs to be a team incentive, 'kicking them when they're down' also needs to be kept in mind. Squeezing Cheliax (or Taldor) because their prestige sucks* makes sense in the game, but it is a game not real life. If Taldor suffers a reversal of fortune, then TPTB should 'stack the odds' in the next season for Taldor to climb back into the ring. If the faction can't even do that right... then yes, unfortunately they need to go. (In the Society, not in the game world)

Rewards: I'd like to see the 'winner' of a season get some kind of boon as a reward. Preferably something thematic. Andoran winning, their characters get a one time use of break enchantment Cheliax gets commune etc etc. Not something game breaking, but a nice one shot oomph.

*

Spoiler:
On prestige. I do think it needs to be some kind of aggregate, not a total points received. If (say) Andoran has 2000 members and they get 750 points and Taldor has 1000 members and they get 600 points, yes Andoran got a higher number, but a much lower percentage (37.5% vs 60%)

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