So I’m thinking, in this hypothetical online game, that a village might come under attack from creatures and neighboring villages, and your character can gain fame and glory by repelling such attacks. It’s meant to be the constant state of things; creatures and other non-player characters (NPCs) organizing and launching raids against one another on a regular basis.

Factions matter to NPCs … whether they swear allegiance to pirates, pilgrims, princes, nobles, orders, or clans. When a player faction forms, they’ll generally fall under one of those categories, and ally with both player- and non-player factions in the area. (Need to see how Mount & Blade handles this.) As a player organization supports the PC and NPC community, so their local influence grows.

Similarly, players may “like” the actions of a non-player organization and it may rise to a position of influence in a region, making it ripe for assault or overthrow by a rival player- or non-player organization. Now that’s got me thinking of the affiliation system introduced in the Third Edition Player’s Handbook 2. *ponders*

The larger an organization grows in a town or village, and the more influence or “likes” it gets (which may well be acquired by buying the favor of the NPCs and local players), the more direct control it has over the use of resources it has in its home village. A ladder exists on a local level, which feeds organizations into a regional ladder. When an organization reaches that level of power, it can dictate regional policy.

Individual heroes and adventuring groups of different affiliations (again, pirates, pilgrims, princes, nobles, orders, and clans) can rise to prominence by raiding dungeons and protecting or buying up towns, and then battle it out at the local level. Individuals or small groups of higher level could also compete on a regional level, serving as the equivalent of “boss monsters.”

You would have the option of a small group gaining greater fame for its individual members, versus the greater resources and legacy at the disposal of a player- or non-player organization. The night watch might be an example of a local non-player organization that gains prominence. When a player is saved by the watch, they have the option to “like” them, and expand their power and influence.

The more “likes” the night watch gets, the more NPCs join it (to become liked) and its membership swells. The night watch gets better training, its members gain more power and influence, and the town becomes safer for it. But that makes the watch itself a target. It might be targeted by a rival watch, or the thieves guild that doesn’t like it.

Key members of the night watch might be targeted for assassination, their offices vandalized or burglarized, and eventually, the thieves guild might overthrow the night watch and take its place in the hearts and minds of the people. Players who create rogues in such a town would receive additional bonuses, possibly faster experience gain or access to special skills … who knows?