Sunday, August 31, 2014

[Hoard of the Dragon Queen] Factions #hdqRemix


HAIL TIAMAT


Hoard of the Dragon Queen does something really smart: lays out different factions the PCs can join.

This is really smart for organized play and for home play.

Since these organizations have opposition to the cult baked in already, you've got a steady supply of properly motivated PCs and NPCs should you need them. Say if you TPK.

THE PROBLEM

The problem is that they've not used as effectively as they could be.

For instance, you start by default as caravan guards

Why?

WHY?

Why not start as faction members, who are already in the first village (1) waiting for the cult attack (2) on the way to investigate the cult (3) etc.? 

Then you don't have to get into this convoluted maybe-we'll-join-the-least-interesting-faction bit in the start of Episode 4 (see heading "Frustrating Potential").

Furthermore, why not have these factions tie into the character's backgrounds, supplying them at least a bond and an ideal? After all, it would be strange for a character to join a faction whose ideals they didn't (at least pretend to) share. RIGHT? 

ANOTHER PROBLEM

The factions as described on WotC's site are pretty tame and lackluster to me. Very safe and uncontroversial and strangely defensive, as if you're worried that the religious Order of the Gauntlet is going to be too, you know, religious

SO HERE'S WHAT I'VE DONE

I've made several changes and added new content for when you're running your #hdqRemix. 
  1. Every PC begins as a faction member; choose or roll d6 for it (on 6, DM chooses)
  2. Every PC takes a bond with the immediate superior mentioned in the faction description.
    1. This can be the only bond or simply add to your existing bond-stable.
    2. For each bond, think of something that you want but haven't been able to get from the bond
      1. Affection
      2. Commitment
      3. Repentance
      4. Apology
      5. Restitution
      6. Vengeance
      7. Attention
      8. Conversion
      9. Forgiveness
      10. Admission
      11. Respect
      12. Support (in some venture, plan, or decision)
  3. Every PC takes an ideal from the faction's list; roll or choose. Ideals can always change later and probably should as the character develops. 
  4. I've added a bond-NPC for each faction that is supposed to be the contact for low level operatives like the PCs. If multiple PCs are in the same faction, they all share the same "commanding officer". 
  5. I've added ideals for each faction that show you what the faction is like
  6. I've added sample missions for which the faction will reward you; you could hunt cultists and do faction play for an entire campaign. (Hack: if you want to expand and foreground faction play, you could hand out XP for faction missions.)

THE FACTIONS

I've just done these quickly. Feel free to contribute or critique in the comments. I have no Forgotten Realms knowledge at all and am not trying to be faithful to its spirit; this is just me trying to make the info on the WotC website a bit spicier.

ORDER OF THE GAUNTLET (Religious)


Bond

The Hand, Holy Jackal; burned; steel plate for a chin; tidying up; wants ex-friend and apostate Lord Ember of Neverwinter to convert or die; speak slowly, with pauses and lingering looks. 

Ideals

  1. Purity. Heretics and apostates must be killed; let not your eye pity them.
  2. Impartiality. No exceptions, ever, for anyone.
  3. Mercy. The one who repents must be shown mercy as I have been shown mercy. 
  4. Idealism. Fiat justicia ruat caelum.
  5. Deontology. There is no right and wrong. There is only what the god commands and forbids.
  6. Herem. The cult, their families, livestock, and all their household must be slain, and all their goods given to the god. 

Missions

  1. Kill an apostate
  2. Bring back a faction member who killed someone who deserved mercy
  3. Kill a heretic; it is a PC's friend or relative
  4. Bring back a cultist for interrogation and sacrifice
  5. Bring back ears of bandits 
  6. Track down a faction member who kept cult wealth for own use

LORD'S ALLIANCE (Political)


Bond

Officer Gunner Sheol; ears to the neck, eyes sunken and clouded; sleepwalking; wants to be saved; never speak first, never elaborate, never leave their eyes. 

Ideals

  1. Order. The forms must be observed in all things. 
  2. Duty. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. 
  3. Honor. Never dishonor a rightful superior, regardless of the superior's worthiness.
  4. Justice. No mercy.
  5. Practicality. Idealism is for philosophers and the dead.
  6. Hierarchy. The stratified world is beautiful; change leads to chaos.

Missions

  1. Assassinate a rabblerousing villager
  2. Infiltrate and entrap an antiwar/opposition/rival group
  3. Sneak into the enemy camp and assassinate its leader
  4. Pose as a buyer of illicit components, confiscate and apprehend dealers
  5. Rescue city-state citizens being held captive by rival city
  6. Propagandize on behalf of the lord; avoid or intimidate opposing thugs 

EMERALD ENCLAVE (Philosophical)


Bond

The Anthrogogue, Corridor Angelspawn; clothes neat and crisp like a mannequin; skin tattooed with equations; bursting into song; wants to be like the Emeraldian; speak energetically, lapsing into sing-songiness and quotations. 

Ideals

  1. Detachment. Desire is the cause of suffering. Desire nothing. Suppress everything.
  2. Submission. The Scale knows where the world is unbalanced, and his directives must be executed without regard to personal feeling.
  3. Nonviolence. Will only use violence to defend the life of another. 
  4. Wealth. Acquire currency. Dispose capriciously. 
  5. Ethics. Balance everything. If you see love, balance with hatred. If you see rudeness, balance with politeness.
  6. Release. Let it go: your own life, your possessions, your loved ones and friendships. 

Missions

  1. Destroy a beautiful an ancient statue that is causing attachment to the world
  2. Steal from the rich and cast into the river
  3. Calmly set yourself afire and no longer be separate from being as such
  4. Kill the Scale's family; this is an order directly from the Scale; he has become too attached
  5. A prince and a princess are in love and soon to be married; douse their love to mere appreciation so that they marriage does not occur
  6. Convert the richest man in the city

ZHENTARIM (Gangsta)


Bond

Soldier Mystery Ghoststrife; craggy cheekbones; bulky tawny gloves embroidered with names in black thread; arrogant; pitching get rich quick scheme; wants to know the truth about the assassination of sister; speak with great reservation and carefully chosen words, always understated.

Ideals

  1. Hedonism. YOLO.
  2. Ostentation. The gratuitous display of wealth inspires others to do better. 
  3. Respect. No dissing tolerated. If you lose your respect, you lose everything.
  4. Revenge. You will be seen as weak and destroyed if you let a slight to you or your people go unpunished.
  5. Piety. The secret gods will bless those who carry out their wishes.
  6. Equivalence. There is no gift; there is only exchange. Gifts are schemes disguised; never trust the "selfless".

Missions

  1. Silence a talker
  2. Off a pig
  3. Make out with the Antikythera Chalice from the gallery of the Warwick Estate
  4. Attend a diplomatic meeting with another faction; secretly kill one of their member who disrespected the Hisser
  5. The Subtle One has commanded that all the lights in the house of Carnifex be extinguished 
  6. Find out why the Zhent's lover gave her a gift and refused repayment; the Zhent's expects an answer soon and will reward greatly. 

HARPERS (Egalitarian)



Bond

Citizen Simulacrum Blacktomb; brows prehumanly heavy; massive chest; impatient; giving someone a massage; wants to destroy the house of Lord Ember of Neverwinter for microaggressions suffered at his hands; always smile, speak as to children.

Ideals

  1. Equality. Everyone in bondage must be liberated immediately, regardless of the cost.
  2. Equality. No one must be treated differently. Except those who treat others differently. Not even your family, not even those closest to you. Your loves must become strangers so that all strangers becomes loves. 
  3. Equality. Religious bigots must be humiliated and brought into conformity. 
  4. Equality. All political systems must enforce equality of economic outcomes. 
  5. Equality. All is equal; all is one; make no judgments unless judged.
  6. Equality. Animals must be liberated from the inequality of domestication and consumption.

Missions

  1. Convert a cultist
  2. Capture a cultist for interrogation
  3. Start a riot outside despicable politician's fancy villa 
  4. Liberate all the slaves owned by the nearest holder
  5. Set all the prisoners free from the nearest jail
  6. Entrap a firebreathing cleric and blackmail him to stop his hatespeech