For design purposes, I have a list of attributes I’m culling. I’m nearly to the point where I should be taking pictures with my phone camera, of the notes I’m jotting down by hand. I’m pretty close to writing on walls though, so maybe it’s best you don’t see visual representations of my handwriting.

Here are some attributes, in the order I’m using.

“Ability Scores”: Violence, Intrigue, Research, Diplomacy
Alignment: Red, Green, White, Blue, Black, “Clear”
Composition: Splash (90-10), Mixed (80-20), Blended (70-30), Fused (60-40)
Dilution: Highball (2), Cocktail (3-4), Punch (5-6)
Strategy: Aggro, Hybrid, Control, Combo
Metagame: Create, Modify, Expand, Delete
Crossroad: Feywild, Shadowfell, Astral Sea, Elemental Chaos, Far Realm
Leader/Agents: [requires NPCs]
Cornerstone: [requires monsters]

Government: Autocracy, Democracy, Bureaucracy, Aristocracy
Executive: Anarchy, Monarchy, Oligarchy, Republic
Authority: Tribal, Feudal, Imperial, Federal
Value System: Secular, Pluralist, Moralist, Nihilist
Economy: Barter, Planned, Market, Green
Identity: Founder, Power, Wealth, Youth
Ideal: Survival, Order, Equality, Liberty

Here are some explanations of each attribute, and its use.

An important thing to account for in the grand scheme of things, is the only factions that receive attributes are the ones worth telling stories about, which ultimately means only the ones with outlandish aspirations or desires. Not all attributes are equal, nor will all of them survive the design process.

With that in mind, the “ability scores” are the newest addition. I wrote them up yesterday and they’re incomplete. They are inspired by the Affiliation system from the 3e D&D Player’s Handbook 2, a woefully underappreciated system in my opinion. Also, a little difficult to work with — come to think of it, I should write a program to automate affiliation generation.

I’ll add that to my list of things to do.

Alignment is important to establishing the “character” of a faction, but it ultimately has about as much importance as alignment to a D&D character — you take it “under advisement.” The colors reflect the colors from Magic: the Gathering, if somewhat idealized. After all, MtG colors don’t always “live up to expectation.”

Composition represents the importance of the primary alignment/allegiance (ultimately, “philosophy”) represented. Color will always be either random or reactionary (based on the “metagame”), but composition is more based on availability. I have this idea for “drafting” composition, or making it two-part (the other part representing quantity of colors).

Continuing the mixology metaphor, two-color combinations are “highballs,” three- and four-color combinations are “cocktails,” and combinations of five or six are “punches.”

Strategies are taken from MtG terminology: Aggro is quick on the attack, Control is defensive, Hybrid is a mix of the two, and Combo is based on delivering a decisive and overwhelming victory through a unique combination of card effects.

Metagame is an idea I had to simulate the effects of a society through “metagame interactions.” Sometimes a player (or faction) discovers a unique combination of effects, which leads to “create.” Basically everything else is derivative of that, whether it comes down to modifying or combining approaches, opposing them, or attacking them directly.

My current list of metagame functions is actually around 30, I just listed the first 4 I started with — it’s an area I really need to cull for usefulness / importance. Good grief.

“Crossroad” represents the influence of the inner or outer planes — whichever one it is. I’m using the condensed 4e cosmology because it’s more indicative than the Great Wheel or other cosmology. Sorry WotC, it just didn’t get better than that.

Leaders and Agents are an idea I got from playing the Lords of Waterdeep board game. Every faction needs a figurehead, whether they’re actually running things or not, and then you have the people who get things done, the “agents.” This is the point of entry for most characters.

Finally, for attributes, there’s an idea I got from Erfworld. Every “side” in Erfworld has some kind of supernatural aid in the sense they produce human “man” units, plus some weird stuff. Usually a “heavy” unit like a troll or treant, then some kind of “mount” unit like a giant spider or flying horse or whatever.

The point of the cornerstone is to cement the fantastical into every major faction: they work together with something like goblins, dwarves, giants, vampires, nightmares, or something. It can get extensive. This will make more sense if I do a cornerstones update any time in the foreseeable future. By which I mean, “put my current list online.”

Then there are the policies, which should look familiar if you’ve played Alpha Centauri (Social Engineering), or any version of Civilization that allows you to set government policy, or Victoria 2 — all of which contributed to the ideas in this section.

Each faction has its priorities, which are defined as the policies they set first when they’re in charge. This can be any of the (currently seven) categories of policy.

Depending on a faction’s priorities, they will have favored policies, such as “Green Economy” for the elves. Elves are actually a point of interest because they three major divisions (high elf, wood elf, dark elf) have similar but different policies.

High elves desire a Green economy and have a feudal power structure. Wood elves likewise desire a Green economy but prioritize a the strong central leadership of a monarch over the organization of government. Dark elves share the feudal structure of their high elf kin, but seek to establish power before an economy.

Policies have a “default” state, which is on the far left (the first entry in each). Interestingly, my experiments thus far have brought me to the conclusion that to be a “faction,” a group must prioritize at least two policies. I struggled with the half-orc faction because I couldn’t find two (at first) for them to care about.

Purebred orcs, for example, tend to be autocratic, anarchic, tribal, secular, founder- (or chieftain-) oriented, and their societies are driven by barter and survival. All in all, they barely count as organizations.

Eventually, I will probably need to cull policies, or at least organize them in such a fashion as to be intuitive. For now, I’m not too worried. I’m just trying to make them interesting and customizable.