I like the idea of faction play, but I find it often gets bogged down into a large number of variables and actions. I’ve tried to make a system that is trackable with simple tokens representing Assets, and allows for plenty of player intervention.
Factions & Regions
Determine the number of Factions at play, and determine the number of distinctive Regions.
For each Faction, you will track its Resources and Assets.
Resources are generated each turn by Regions under the Faction’s control.
Each region has a Resource Value: the number of resources generated by this region. Assign a value of 0-3 to each region:
|0||Barren wastes, wilderness|
|1||Sparsely populated, recently settled|
|2||Dotted with settlements, healthy agriculture|
|3||Lush fields, overflowing mines, bustling trade routes|
Each region is connected to neighboring regions unless blocked by natural hazards such as mountain ranges.
Assets come in three types:
- Influence (INF). Political clout and power.
- Intelligence (INT). Spies and informants.
- Might (MGT). Military forces.
Each Faction will try to amass its assets in vital regions to gain control of its resources and expand its domain.
- If a Faction has no Assets of a type in a region, it holds no control in that field. Asset Score: 0.
- If a Faction has 1 Asset of a type in a region, it has a Weak presence. Asset Score: 5.
- If a Faction has 2 Assets of a type in a region, it has a Capable presence. Asset Score: 10.
- If a Faction has 3 Assets of a type in a region, it has a Strong presence. Asset Score: 15.
A Faction cannot have more than 3 Assets of the same type in a region.
The League of Free Houses has 2 INT, 1 INF and 1 MGT in the Greywoods. This means they have a capable intelligence network, a weak influence, and a weak military presence. If the League wants to know what their enemy is up to, they'd need to roll a d20 equal or under 10 at the start of their turn (2 assets = Asset Score of 10).
The Home Region
Each Faction has a home region. This region starts with a strong Influence for that respective faction.
Alternatively, having strong influence in a region is the entry barrier to domain play.
A Faction loses if it loses all Influence in its home region or if an enemy has a Strong Might in the Faction’s home region, and the Faction has no Might to oppose it.
Creating A Realm
To create a realm to play in, in summary:
- Designate Factions.
- Designate regions and their resources.
- Designate the home region of each Faction.
- Determine which regions would logically already fall under each Faction, and the presence they would have there.
Assets and their Functions
Briefing: Each turn, you can roll 1d20 under or equal to your Intelligence Asset Score to learn the enemy’s current Assets in a neighboring region.
Intelligence can be used to
- Attack enemy Intelligence (Counter-intelligence: Spies and informants trying to hinder, sabotage or eliminate enemy agents)
- Attack enemy Influence (Blackmail, false information, and assassination)
Having any Intelligence Assets in a region reveals the enemy’s Assets.
Having a higher Intelligence than your opponent gives Advantage on any Might clashes.
Allocation: Each turn, you can roll 1d20 under or equal to your Influence Asset Score to gain double Resources from this region this turn.
Influence can be used to
- Attack enemy Influence (Slander campaigns, rumors, and controversy)
- Attack enemy Might (Propaganda, attacking morale, riling up the population)
Having a higher Influence than your opponent to be granted the region’s Resources on your turn.
Note that if the enemy has the only MGT presence in the region (see below), it's a tie - no one gets the Resources!
Plunder: Each turn, you can choose to roll 1d20 under or equal to your Might to plunder +1 Resources from this region this turn. If this succeeds, you lose 1d4 Influence in this region.
Might can be used to
- Attack enemy Might (Brawls in the street – or full-blown warfare)
Having a higher Might in a region hinders the enemy’s ability to reinforce; unless they’re moving at least 2 MGT Assets into the region in one turn, they cannot send MGT reinforcements.
Having the only Might in a region means you can requisition any resources found.
Note that if the enemy has a higher INF presence in the region (see above) while you have the only MGT presence, it's a tie - no one gets the Resources!
To attack the opposition’s assets in a region, both sides roll 1d20. The goal is to roll under or equal to your Asset Score, while rolling higher than the opponent.
- If the winner rolls under their Asset Score and the loser rolls above their Asset Score, the loser loses 2 Assets.
- If the winner and loser both roll under their Asset Score but the winner rolls higher, the loser loses 1 Asset.
- If both sides roll above their Asset Score, no Assets are lost.
Purchases can be made at the start of your turn in your home region.
- Generating 1 Intelligence Asset costs 1 Resource.
- Informants & spies, such as bartenders, information brokers, and bribed officials.
- Generating 1 Influence Asset costs 2 Resources.
- Diplomats & public speakers, such as bards, town criers, and pamphleteers.
- Generating 1 Might Asset costs 3 Resources.
- Militia & military troops.
Procedure of Play
- Generate Resource income from Regions where you have the highest Influence of those present.
- Roll for Briefing, Allocation & Plunder where applicable.
- Purchase new Assets in your home region.
- Move any number of Assets to any neighboring regions.
- Note that having a lower Might hinders reinforcements.
- Perform any number of Asset Attacks.
- Roll any Intelligence attacks first, then Influence, then Might.
Note that a lot can happen in a round. I’d set a round to roughly one month of ingame time, probably.
Any player/party action can influence the main Asset types:
- An assassination of a military leader might lower MGT.
- Rallying people in the town square might raise INF.
- Intercepting an important letter might raise INT.
- Looting a valuable treasure might give +1 Resources.
Furthermore, having dominance in Might could lead to a final siege of the main city or fortress in a region.
2 thoughts on “Intelligence, Influence & Might: Simple Faction Conflict in TTRPGs”
This very much puts me in mind of the faction system from Sine Nomine (Stars Without Number etc.), albeit simplified without tags and whatnot.
I mean, you’re not wrong! Thing is, I’ve read a lot of RPG systems recently, and I definitely recognize the depth offered by that faction system, but it still didn’t really click for me – it felt a bit too crunchy? I’m looking for systems I can bolt on to things I’m running, not necessarily things that take the forefront. That’s what led to this version!