Faction trees

Rich Skrenta (skrenta@blekko.rt.com)
Sun, 19 Jul 92 13:05:36 EDT

Aside: I promised to talk about faction trees, so here they are.
I was surprised that when I said "Carl and I, great, that's two who
like faction trees." (was it Carl?) And several others wrote to say
"I like them too."

BTW, did you notice the "Organizational hierarchy" chart in the
ancient turn report? Yes, pre-Olympia had faction trees.

I can send out Chuk's posting which killed the last manifestation
of this idea, if anyone is interested. He covered the bad things
about faction trees pretty well.

I had some new ideas about faction trees, so fresh material follows.
My goal with this new design is to filter out all of the disadvantages
of faction trees, and leave only the good parts. A player who doesn't
want to worry about his organizational hierarchy shouldn't be at a
disadvantage to his position now.

o SWEAR <unit> swears fealty to the specified character.
The character must be present.

Loyalty is from a unit to its lord (another unit), so
a tree of loyalties may be built.

o There is no limit on how many units may be sworn to a character.

o In the location report, instead of the "faction [n]" which
is displayed if you have enough observation skill, instead
you would see "lord [n]". This indicates the character's
immediate superior.

o If a character's default attitude was "default to lord",
the immediate superior's attitude would instead be used.
Attitudes could continue defaulting up the tree to the
player character.

o If a unit was PERSUADEd away, all of the units underneath it
would come along too.

o The player character still cannot be persuaded.

o A unit's original loyalty would be to the character that
FORMed it.

(It could SWEAR fealty to another character, but only if it
visited its new lord -- you can't swear to someone who isn't

I am hesitant to muck with loyalties, since imposing various disadvantages,
such as loyalty drops if you haven't seen your lord in a while, seem to
cause more busywork than fun.

If I did tinker with loyalties in this scheme, it would only be to offer
benefits, not to impose disadvantages:

o Units stacked with their lord would be very difficult to

o Units in the same location as their lord would be difficult
to persuade.


Previous faction tree proposals have been all-negative: only penalties
for neglecting your organizational hierarchy, and rules to force a
complex hierarchy on your faction.

In the plan above, there are a couple of reasons why a player might want
to make use of the tree system:

o Since only the immediate lord can be determined from a
character, even with good observation, it becomes harder to
tell what player a character belongs to.

o Concentrated empires can be made stronger by making it harder
to persuade units near their lord. Zyzak's potent four unit
faction would not be as suspeptible to having units stolen
away by a gift from Rocko.

o Trees can be structured with an eye towards the attitude system,
or roleplay. The silly "multiple factions" idea is nearly
possible here. Want three separate empires? Have three main
characters leading them. Separate default attitudes for each
mini empire can be easily set.

This plan tries not to force trees down the player's throats. They
can engineer a flat organization if they want. It's harder to do for
far-flung empires, but still possible. Besides, it should be hard to
manage a vast empire.

Further thought

Faction trees look like they could spit out a nifty heir system.
The PC is still intact, but there is a ready hierarchy to base
heir selection decisions on. I haven't thought about it much yet.

Send your comments!

Rich Skrenta <skrenta@rt.com>  N2QAV

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