I came up with a list of six categories of factions for Rumors of War, which conveniently sort of stratifies the social order of the world. From there, a given faction could be said to exist in any of the categories, which are all designed to be fairly flexible — enough that a faction might be argued to exist in more than one category. The point, though, is to narrow the range of possibilities.

The first category was the easiest, and it was based on the idea of social order — the category of royalty (generally), which I’ve termed “princes.” The Greek usage of the word “tyrant” differs from the modern usage (according to various sources I’ve read). They’re used to refer to any ruler who takes control without official sanction or authority. Perhaps a leadership equivalent of a “bastard.” Illegitimate.

My basic interpretation here is that factions in this category represent individuals trying to bring their brand of order and justice to a chaotic land. They may be knights who’ve decided to take their divine heritage and make something out of it, they might be pirates or guilds that have grown too big for their britches, or perhaps a tribe has grown large and diverse enough that it no longer shuns outsiders.

Whatever the reason, the princes generally have a group of retainers who help them to run things, and if their path of land survives long enough, it usually becomes a city (often having begun life as a village, colony, or outpost). A few generations of princes tends to distort the cause, though, and don’t last long.