A Friendly War


Pathfinder Society

Silver Crusade

Mike is currently looking at the whole concept of the faction war, and reevaluating it. This thread isn't for discussions of if we need a faction war, it is a spin off to discuss *if* we do a faction war, what is the best way to implement it.

This is all theory crafting, let's keep it nice and civil. Constructive criticism is great, idea bashing is not.

To me, a well implemented Faction War must do 3 things:

1) Make factions matter. As is, I feel no real loyalty to my faction, since all faction missions are "Fire and Forget" events.

2) Make the War interesting. I'm not talking about a purge of Cheliax if they fail, I'm talking about bragging rights of having the Eagle Knights running Security in Absalom.

3) Avoid causing PvP and hard feelings. Players of one faction shouldn't be screwing over another.

Silver Crusade

The Shadow War is good in concept, but I think it needs a slight tweak.

I would add an extra category to the reporting sheet: a "Victory Point" for the faction that best completed their and the pathfinder's goals. This actually encourages co-operation in the main goal, but should prevent others from aiding in other faction's missions. Right now, the point of factions is to gain PA to gain loot. We have no reason to give a rip if our faction "wins". In fact, Andoran "won", and got its logo changed (for the worse, imo) and alignment shifted to CG, forcing me out of it. Not much of a win there...

I would also implement something of an alliance system. For example, Andoran wants to have the Eagle Knights be in charge of security in Absalom, while Chelliax wants the Hellknights to do so. The Scarzi would prefer to not having such Lawful types in charge, so they back andoran's bid. Plus, the original Shadow War was about national control of Absalom for their own benefit. The new 5 aren't nations at all. And, its hard to see 10 factions all getting irritable over the exact same thing, and having 10 different solutions. Plus, making Cheliax and the Silver Crusade allies of convenience at some point...well, it would lead to some great roleplay.

Shadow Lodge

The problem I see with a point you raised was that you do not want cooperarion with missions; I believe that would lead to a (admitably small) universal decrease in Fame, which would give our characters less buying power, meaning less magic items. Personally, I would hope the wizard would have enough Fame to buy a Selective Rod before casting Fireball at the melee.

Silver Crusade

Well, yes. Seeing as the Factions are opposed to one another, I don't see why they should be helping each other. How do you see making a Faction conflict viable, while still keeping co-operation high?


There does appear to be a fair amount of brainstorming in that first thread. It might be worth either dragging over here or keeping over there, for clarity.

Silver Crusade

One problem that I see with factions is that the Players do not have a good grasp of the factions, because IMO the faction goals for each season are not well defined. If at the beging of each season there was some sort of pre faction meeting where the PC's are breifed by the faction leader, given goals the faction wants to acomplish and what is expected of them. I think this would go far into inproving how the factions interact in game play.

Also it would be nice to tie the faction missions in with the faction goals for the season. Right now I do not see any conection between the faction missions and what the factions hope to do.

Silver Crusade

J. Christopher Harris wrote:
There does appear to be a fair amount of brainstorming in that first thread. It might be worth either dragging over here or keeping over there, for clarity.

Well, Mike was more asking what we thought of the faction war, and it seemed the main thrust of that thread was if there should be a faction war at all. If it ends up with 2 topics in one thread, excellent. But I felt that a discussion on how to best implement such a war might merit its own thread, for clarity's sake.

The Exchange 5/5

well... your ground rules for this thread barred me from expressing my primary opinion.
"This thread isn't for discussions of if we need a faction war, it is a spin off to discuss *if* we do a faction war, what is the best way to implement it."
One factions goals (short term and long term) might or might not conflict with other factions. A clearer expression of those goals would do much to clear up the "muddled" state of confusion many players see in their current faction missions. I'd love to be able to tell what my faction wants, without the briefing.
Find a shipping manifest? "Hay, we got a Qadirian with us this mission? Pass this back to him. No wait - I forgot we're at war. The book disappears, it was never here."

How about this
Need to pay a toll to cross a bridge?
"We Andorans go find a ferryman, so that we don't support the petty noble who collects the toll.
"We Cheliaxians pony up the cash - it's the lawful thing to do."
"The Qadirians & Scarzi will stop and have coffee with the crew of the toll booth and while Scarzi talk to him about "arrangements" the Qadirians look to copy the records of what merchants have been thru.
"The Silver Crusade arrange for free passage for the local beggers
"The Osirions check to see if the original bridge was built by the Dog Pharoah
"Lantern Lodge members ... burn incence as they cross.
etc...
Now, each of the different faction missions are at war so they need to undercut each other.
so...
The Cheliaxians pay an extra toll for the Andorians - "just to keep them honest".
The Andorians buy the ferryman an extra boat - and get him to agree to transport escaping slaves with it.
the Scarzi point out what the Qadirians are doing, and the Qadirians report the Toll keeper to the local noble.
Everyone else (not S.C.) complains to the local cops that unlicenced beggers get a free pass across the bridge - and someone should put a stop to that!
Lantern Lodge members cast Silent Image to conceal the shape of the lower bridge supports and the Osirions cast Gust of Wind to blow away the smoke from the incense...
NOW realize that NONE of the above was anyones faction mission - just things they were doing to conceal what the TRUE mission was. and each was "foiled" and while it was likely to be fun (which is good) it also cut into the 4 hours of game time and derailed the scenario. Welcome to Paranoia, the Faction Wars.


I like the idea of faction wars. What ever mechanism we can come up with is going to need:

1)Make factions feel important.
2)Have the faction wars tied to the plot.
3)Faction war can not interfere with pathfinders as a whole. Missions should not breakdown into backstabbing that prevents mission goals from being completed.

Idea:
A seasons plot can revolve around the factions vying for control of the pathfinders. Each mission, while important to the pathfinders as a whole, can also be important to a certain faction. That factions mission will revolve around a goal to achieve in addition to the scenario mission. The other factions, knowing that this mission is important to a rival faction, will have missions attempting to thwart that faction in some indirect manner. You do not need direct intervention to have a faction war. You can then take into account success and failures and have that influence the story plot regarding which faction controls the pathfinders at the end of the season.

Example:
Pathfinders are given a mission. This mission, while important to the pathfinders as a whole, is very important to the Qadiran faction. The region that the mission travels to is headquarters for an influential grain trading consortium that supplies Absolam with food stuffs. The Qadiran faction wants to influence the price of grain up and then as grain becomes to high for the commoners of Absolam to purchase. Qadira can then swoop in with their own grain supplies and save the day, winning themselves influence and positive public opinion in Absolam. The other factions, however, know pieces of this plan, and have missions to thwart it indirectly. Depending on whether the Qadiran faction succeeds and how many people succeed at thwarting it by succeeding at their missions, the Qadiran factions influence could rise or fall in the faction war.

2/5

I already wrote a lot on this topic already in the other thread, but my thought is you need the following for a successful faction war:

1) I'm sorry, but if you're having a "war", there has to be conflict sometimes. Not open war or PVP, but conflict. Otherwise, you have exactly what we have now, (unwritten) full cooperation.

2) Gear cannot be linked to Fame. If the factions are going to be at war, the failure rate is going to be a lot higher, and there will be hard feelings if one PC succeeds and another doesn't. It's already a significant penalty if you don't get your extra PP.

If you keep gear linked to Fame, there's a very strong incentive for full cooperation (especially if the war results in some minor story change you may never find out about).

3) The war has to mean something significant. This means that a boon will be granted beyond just a story change, even if it's minor (some gold, +2 Diplomacy, etc). It lasts for 1 season only. Otherwise there's no reason why you wouldn't want your entire party to succeed (full cooperation).

4) Interesting: It needs to be interesting. We only have 4 hours to play, let's not waste time doing things that don't add any value to the game (like finding trinkets in the garbage like we do now).

If it's not going to be interesting I'd rather have no faction missions at all. Faction missions must represent the "core values" of the faction. For example, you create a scenario, when making faction missions you should be thinking "What would faction X want to do here?". It doesn't have to be complex or something added into the scenario (Ex. A ring in a pile of trash), just something that conforms with the factions ideals. Only make stuff up if there aren't any existing plot hooks for the faction.

It's entirely possible that we don't even have the TIME to implement proper faction missions, and perhaps this means some factions should have missions in some scenarios and not others (free pass).

That's how you make a successful faction war. When it works it's amazing (like in a few games I've seen), but it needs mature GMs and players.

2/5

I think it's important to note how successful factions have been so far, in our games. Here are my approximate stats:

5% of missions are amazing and add something to the storyline or game
15% of missions caused PC conflict
30% of missions detracted from the game (not interesting, poorly written, vague, takes away from main mission)
50% of missions are the equivalent of a laundry list and just waste precious time

The faction missions that added to the game were risky missions belonging to Cheliax btw.

When they work, they work great and add a lot to the story. Having said that, they take TIME, time which we probably don't have if we're making scenarios for 4 hour time slots.

Silver Crusade

nosig wrote:


One factions goals (short term and long term) might or might not conflict with other factions. A clearer expression of those goals would do much to clear up the "muddled" state of confusion many players see in their current faction missions. I'd love to be able to tell what my faction wants, without the briefing.

Ok, so all 10 factions would have various goals, and if each faction earns X% of their PA in a given season, that goal is accomplished? The various goals are independent, and not something all other factions would have a problem with? That could be interesting as well, if I'm reading your post right.

2/5

Alexander_Damocles wrote:
I would add an extra category to the reporting sheet: a "Victory Point" for the faction that best completed their and the pathfinder's goals. This actually encourages co-operation in the main goal, but should prevent others from aiding in other faction's missions. Right now, the point of factions is to gain PA to gain loot. We have no reason to give a rip if our faction "wins".

If everyone completes their faction mission, like we have now, how can you decide "who did it best" for the Victory Point?

If you actually want your fellow PCs to fail their missions, this leads to problems as I've explained in the other thread. You have to deal with those problems first. It screws low skill classes and promotes power classes. Also, being uncooperative is close to PVP and you can expect a general lack of cooperation in the group going forward. It also leads to your group being less effective in the long term.

And you're complaining that when a faction wins it means nothing, what do you suggest? Because the payoff better be really good, considering you're screwing over your fellow players (by being uncooperative) with their Fame/gear.

Lou Diamond wrote:
One problem that I see with factions is that the Players do not have a good grasp of the factions, because IMO the faction goals for each season are not well defined.

Well, I think the faction goals are well defined, but there's no follow through with the faction missions (from the authors).

For example, Taldor is about political scheming, causing animosity between nations, and gaining power within Absalom. Mostly we see missions involving getting item X. Of course it was brutal during Baron Dalsine's era, but even in Season 3 I've been asked to get perfume and other items. Sorry, this might be needed for some far reaching plot/scheme, however the players need something much more tangible and direct (for it to be interesting).

When something interesting and appropriate does happen (like Sczarni cutting out someone's tongue), everyone is up in arms and forget that this is a neutral campaign, not a good campaign.

I could go on and on, even mentioning lost opportunities, but there's no point. The core values of factions are often not represented in faction missions.

Silver Crusade

It would come down to a whole list of things. Who got their faction goal done with the most panache and style? Who co-operated best with the rest of the team? Was one faction or another more respectful of the local traditions?

Shadow Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West aka JohnF

Alexander_Damocles wrote:
It would come down to a whole list of things. Who got their faction goal done with the most panache and style? Who co-operated best with the rest of the team? Was one faction or another more respectful of the local traditions?

In my opinion, this would just make the faction missions even more likely to cause problems. It's bad enough today, when there are missions that depend explicitly on a trained-only skill, missions that have to be performed without your other party members knowing anything about it, missions that conflict with the alignment of the character ...

Making faction missions even more important than they are today doesn't strike me as a particularly good idea until some of the underlying issues are addressed.

Silver Crusade

I don't think we need to make faction missions any easier. I think the last time I missed a PA, I was playing my first character and was brand new to PFS.

The Exchange 5/5

I would like to explore the "alliances" aspect of the suggestions. Perhaps have an unlikely union of "operatives" working together on a faction mission...
for example:
The Chelaxians gathering information on an Unlawful slaving opperation, in need of aid from the Andorans. While the Cheliaxians have no problem with the buying/selling of slaves - this opperation is OUTSIDE THE LAW (taxes not paid, slaves not proper judged convicts, the slaves are stolen property, etc.). So... if there are both Cheliaxian and Andoran PCs, they get briefed together - if not the players get a contact name (for the other faction) they will work with, and/or possible they get thier briefing notes from the other faction head.

how does that sound for alliances?

The Exchange 5/5

For "conflict" while still "Working as a team".

There will always be some factions that are NOT at the table. Build on this.

All players at the table are briefed about the fact that currently they will be working with members from other factions. It seems that (insert faction not at the table) has been making unexpected headway in the "secret war" and we have had to ally with persons we normally avoid working with in order to strike a blow against the (insert enemy faction). Your mission is to (insert mission approate to the faction... Taldor -spread rumors, Cheliax - find blackmail notes, Qadira - buy off contacts, Scarni - strong arm underlings, etc.

This lets everyone do what they do best, and they are fighting for thier faction against other factions, AND they are all helping each other too.

Silver Crusade

Thats pretty much exactly what I was looking at, both short term and long term alliances.

Such alliances would also foster co-operation in the future. You might not like that chelaxian, but if you need to work with him in the future...

The Exchange 5/5

We could even bring out an NPC "faction" - one we all work against...

Back on the alliances aspect - I can see some Andoran getting a Faction Briefing note from the Paracountess.... Imp appears from behind a potted plant wearing a paridy of an Eagle Knight uniform, salutes and says in a high piping voice "Message for you Sir!" poof, disappears in a puff of smoke, leaveing behind a scroll that begines.... "I will so enjoy working closely with you on these matters..." and smelling of perfume... and faintly brimstone.

Silver Crusade

Shoot, I could even see an Andoran meeting the Paracountess, and her going full on temptress mode (think First Steps Part 1). It would lead to some fun roleplay.

So, we would at least like to see some joint faction missions going forward, regardless of how the faction war plays out?

The Exchange 5/5

I never had a problem with joint faction missions, and indeed much prefer them. It's the aspect of "War" where player A looses if player B wins that is the problem. Then you get the players noticing that if "He fails I win" and trying to ensure that the other player looses. How best to do that? ensure that his PC dies. The best way to ensure that your faction wins the faction wars? ensure that you are the only PC comeing back from each of your missions. THAT's what I worry about happening. If only 1 in 20 players makes that connection, then I'll be in a game with him once every 4 games or so.

Silver Crusade

True, but what if a faction "winning" means roleplay bragging rights. Such as the next VC that gets appointed will be from the Organization that wins the faction war? You would only see them perhaps 2-3 times a season...but think of the fun that could be had during the briefing if you were part of the same faction.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West aka JohnF

Alexander_Damocles wrote:
I don't think we need to make faction missions any easier. I think the last time I missed a PA, I was playing my first character and was brand new to PFS.

Well, I see you're Silver Crusade. How do you feel about a mission where you are supposed to assassinate somebody? Not to bring them to justice - just to kill them. There's at least one of those around somewhere.

It also rather depends on the GM you end up with when playing the older scenarios with two faction missions. While the rules in the Guide to Organized Play could be clearer, it appears that a strict RAW says you have to achieve both of the faction-specific missions to get both prestige points; the overall Pathfinder Society mission doesn't count towards PA in those scenarios. I've had GMs that adhered to this reading of the rules, and GMs that gave one PP for the overall mission success, and one PP for achieving either of the faction-specific missions. Obviously the second interpretation makes it a whole lot easier to get full PA points.

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

JohnF wrote:
it appears that a strict RAW says you have to achieve both of the faction-specific missions to get both prestige points; the overall Pathfinder Society mission doesn't count towards PA in those scenarios. I've had GMs that adhered to this reading of the rules, and GMs that gave one PP for the overall mission success, and one PP for achieving either of the faction-specific missions. Obviously the second interpretation makes it a whole lot easier to get full PA points.

The first is correct, to get both PP for season 1-2 (a few season 0) scenarios you need to complete both faction missions. Completing the Scenario does not give you any for those seasons.

Silver Crusade

Nope. Thats a false flag operation there, chief....I don't have a single Silver Crusade character. And I run them as written for PA, you still have to do both to get full credit.

The Exchange 5/5

Alexander_Damocles wrote:
True, but what if a faction "winning" means roleplay bragging rights. Such as the next VC that gets appointed will be from the Organization that wins the faction war? You would only see them perhaps 2-3 times a season...but think of the fun that could be had during the briefing if you were part of the same faction.

I've played with, and I'm sure you have too, people who wouldn't care if there was NO REWARD at all for winning the faction war. Just the fact that it was a contest would be enough to cause them to undercut the other players. Heck, we would soon have people cheating to learn other persons faction missions so that they could foil them, with no reward involved at all.

let's try to keep everyone on the same side, please. I don't what to have to watch over my shoulder to see if anyone is messureing my back for the knife.

Liberty's Edge

nosig wrote:

I would like to explore the "alliances" aspect of the suggestions. Perhaps have an unlikely union of "operatives" working together on a faction mission...

for example:
The Chelaxians gathering information on an Unlawful slaving opperation, in need of aid from the Andorans. While the Cheliaxians have no problem with the buying/selling of slaves - this opperation is OUTSIDE THE LAW (taxes not paid, slaves not proper judged convicts, the slaves are stolen property, etc.). So... if there are both Cheliaxian and Andoran PCs, they get briefed together - if not the players get a contact name (for the other faction) they will work with, and/or possible they get thier briefing notes from the other faction head.

how does that sound for alliances?

That would actually be quite a jaw-dropper for many players; "I have to work with who...?".

Allied missions are also easier on the writers. I can't imagine it's easy to come up with ten unique missions for every scenario.


I think the notion of allied missions is a great one (and true, probably a real boon for those doing the design).

I brought up something in the other thread, but it sounds better to me taking the above idea into account, and that is to remove faction missions from most scenarios, and then have the remaining ones be very faction focused, or entirely so. I'd think it'd make things like organizing any metaplot a lot simpler.

Also, on the writing/pitching end of things, they could limit that material to writers who've already shown a talent for the faction material.

Another option, again on the pitching end: have faction missions come as an addendum to a scenario pitch, that can be accepted or rejected on its own merit. I've only played in a small number of scenarios thus far, but in a couple the scenarios were pretty inspired, but the faction stuff was just a tedious addition that seemedto mainly serve as a way to make the poor judges reread block text.

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