I’ve mentioned before, Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons has an affiliation system that I really like. It has great ideas about abstracting the size and power of vast organizations, but the tools for creating cities, kingdoms, worlds, and planes of existence didn’t do justice to the system’s idea of scale.

So, while your affiliation might hold sway over an entire nation, the abilities of the nation were made up entirely by the game master. You might have cause to destroy the nation, or empower it, but it would have such a monumental impact on the game, you would probably derail the entire campaign in the process.

The rules just aren’t robust enough to handle it.

Creating a system for managing cities, kingdoms, and planes of existence is part of what I’ve been working on, and now that I’ve made progress up to the “region” level, I figured it was time to bring in the affiliation system and see how much it would break things. Actually, I’ve already done some rudimentary work with factions.

The Third Edition system has ten “types” of affiliations: business, cabal, college, druid circle, fighting company, government, spy ring, temple, thieves’ guild, and tribe. The first thing I figured I’d do is slash that number in half, and replace it with the ones I’ve been working on: slaves, experts, outlaws, princes, and knights.

Each faction type has a direct advantage over at least two other types, and falls prey to at least two others. Most characters will spend their early career interacting with only two of the faction types: slaves or outlaws. Oftentimes, the characters will be either slaves or outlaws to some degree or another.

In addition to a faction’s scale, they now have a scope, as well. Faction scale is linear, and ranges from one to thirty, much as character levels do. Faction scope, on the other hand, is exponential and ranges from one to six. You can think of faction scope as relative or parallel to (but independent of) character tier.

Scope is measured as Personal, Local, Regional, Global, Planar, or Cosmic.

I’ve replaced faction capital with Catan’s Resource Cards at the Local scope. Personal factions operate on character capital. Once you get to the Regional scope, individual resources just don’t matter anymore and you’re basically playing Risk: Godstorm. At the Global scope, you’re so far from D&D, … you’re playing a different game.

Expect that characters have the most direct interaction with affiliations at Heroic tier, after which they basically are the affiliations, unless they divest themselves completely. Obviously, you can continue to play at Paragon and Epic tier, it’s just important to note that the stakes are significantly higher. Lots of lives. No pressure.

So, the rate at which an affiliation grows can vary dramatically depending on the scope of the affiliation. What most players will be interested in knowing is how to start their own affiliation, and then how to take over the world with it. Hopefully, we’ll start getting into that before the end of the year. For now, we have slaves and outlaws…