I came up with a list of six categories of factions for the Rumors of War ‘verse, with the idea in mind to cut a step out of character-building, or perhaps simplify a few things. It doesn’t just help me in character-building, though, it helps define the social structure in the world. And it’s fun. ^_^

When an individual has been displaced, they need to find a means for survival. Generally, with the tribes, they produce their own goods and carve out a niche among their neighbors. With pilgrims, they move on to the next temple or shrine, only occasionally turning to banditry and raiding when they can’t provide for themselves. When a group needs to support itself, it often turns to short-term means of survival.

Pirates, bandits, raiders, and slavers are the result when those short-term means become a lifestyle choice. Rather than living in a rough state of near-harmony with their neighbors like other factions, pirates prey on their neighbors until they are driven off or wiped out. Sometimes they serve a meaningful purpose of removing surplus goods or population from the local economy, but ultimately, they’re still largely villains.

Pirates are the only universally-hated faction, even by other pirates. Tyrants will occasionally sick them on other tyrants, or hire them to harass guilds that have gotten out of line. The only factions likely to ever work with pirates are, of course, other pirates, but also the morally ambiguous knight-lords.

More importantly, slavers provide the slaves that perform the equivalent of white- and blue-collar work in the ancient world, so like them or hate them, pirates will continue to provide a necessary (if not mostly evil) service to society as a whole. The guilds hope to one day replace the pirates, and serve as a natural enemy.