Following my own really, really brief summary of the Affiliation System in Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons (the one that tells you almost nothing), I figured I’d present a condensed version, using a smaller number of factions, and outline some of the reasons for the cuts, the changes, and blah-blah moving along.

Third Edition was really great for creating systems for players to do their own thing. The problem with a lot of these systems is they simply didn’t function as advertised. It doesn’t help that they were built on a system full of holes. The best systems plugged some holes and made others, while the worst ones … just made more holes.

First, we have only five faction types, as opposed to the previous ten affiliation types. These are all “social” factions, and I’m not even going to touch on the idea of “racial” factions. I’m also going to stick with the term factions, because I’m basically forging a new system here, and I’ll call it whatever I darn well please.

Princes wield a great deal of influence, but their powers are largely borrowed, granted, or implied. While knights hold the majority of the military might, the stock and trade of the princely factions is influence. You’ll see that represented in their ability to rain the pain down on individuals.

An uncooperative noble can be killed, or an artisan cut off from his guild.

Knights (sometimes labeled “heroes” or “demigods”) are the main military strength, though their powers are limited primarily to causing destruction and adding to their own wealth. Slaves may create the wealth, but without knights to keep the peace, civilization itself would likely cease to exist.

Slaves who fail to tribute can expect “taxation,” and bandits are annihilated.

Slaves are the main producers: the farmers, the potters, the weavers. Lacking expensive work animals or significant advances in technology, manual labor is performed by the people. While experts have cornered the market for trades, the majority of production comes from the hands of the lower classes.

Unpopular leaders, demagogues, and lazy workers can expect to be driven out of town, … which is as good as a death sentence in this day and age.

Experts run the guilds and oversee the major trades, and their talents and organization gives them an advantage over less reputable and disciplined sources. There’s a lot of money to be made in their line of work, though bandits have a clear advantage in sheer mobility. A gift from the guilds is a double-edged sword.

Both of their powers have a largely productive leaning, and any faction benefits from having experts as allies. Often, the greatest power experts wield is the ability to stop using their powers, cutting another faction off from vital resources.

Outlaws characterize a region more than any other faction, thanks to the fact that those things a group of people choose to suppress, tend to define them to a far greater degree than those things they choose to express. Princes have far greater precision in their influence, but can’t match the raw power of outlaws.

Oppressive rulers can expect raids, and lowly slaves are easily terrorized.