As my players level up, they progress from saving the town to saving the region and one day, perhaps, the world. They gain wider access to the world and began wielding influence. But as your players jog about your world map, it can be difficult to spin up immersive drama at a moment’s notice.
Since I’m a pretty sucky dungeon master and even suckier coder, I decided to automate my drama with a simple dice driven faction a.i. which seeds the drama and intrigue for me. Here’s how it works…
The artificial intelligence that is key to this method hinges on the notion of shooting an arrow and drawing a target around it. By rolling dice to generate a table of values, you create a dynamic relationship between factions, allowing you to “read the bones” and interpret how that faction views itself and others.
You will need:
- 1 D6 dice
- 1 D10 dice
- pencil & paper
Create the Table
In this example, we’re generating the factions of a city’s business district.
- Show me the Money!
- Buy low, sell high, business business business
- Eastbound and Down…
- Transport goods to and through the city
- Who’s the Boss?
- Dictate the laws of trade, settle grievances in court, and set taxes for the guilds
- I AM THE LAW!
- Protect citizens and enforce the laws
- Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap
- It’s only illegal if you get caught.
Populate the Table
Roll 1d10 for each initial value.
Determine the Limits
What happens on an 11 or a 0?
I like to treat an 11 as a merger of the factions.They may merge their organizations, signing a peace treaty or join their lands.
Conversely, a 0 represents all out war and hostility. There may be buildings burned, hitman hired, and rioters routed.
Once you’ve got your extremes set, you can determine the escalations of the inner values for the chart as is appropriate for your story or campaign.
Roll 1d6 for each value and alter existing value based on this chart:
Here’s our new results:
Reading the Bones
Referencing the table above we can glean some interesting relationships between the factions. (I’ll be reading the values as rows not columns, but it doesn’t matter as long as you’re consistent) Let’s start by looking at the Merchants:
- The Merchants have a positive outlook on fellow members of their own faction (8). I’d interpret this as the Merchants working well via a strong guild in the city.
- There is also an accomodating relationship (7) with the Porters faction. The Porters are crucial for the moving of goods the Merchants buy and sell therefore it makes sense the Merchants have a vested interest in keeping the Porters happy.
- However the Merchants HATE the Magistrates (1) and are hostile towards them. They are on the verge of revolting against the unfair taxes and new trade laws of the Magistrates.
- Because of these new laws the Magistrates passed, the Merchants are critical of the guards (4) who are tasked with enforcing the new edicts and de-escalting the hostility of the Merchants towards the Magistrates.
- The Merchants are also openly antagonistic against the Smugglers (2) who don’t obey the laws anyway and continue to thrive in spite of the Magistrates' taxes.
Make the Numbers Real
To make this tangible for your players, create one NPC from each faction to interact with party and represent the outlook of the faction. Have a guard mutter about the merchants as they walk away from an yelling porter.