Factions & Favors For 5E
One of the big things that I have been thinking about in recent months is how there is a faction system for the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. And I need to mention that I use the term loosely. Very loosely. As you probably know there are a number of organizations and they all have their own titles for 5 different ranks which a character can earn by earning renown with that organization. The problem is, at least for me, is that despite having renown thresholds there are precious little guidelines for actually rewarding renown. For many people, this is probably enough of a faction system but for many others this is strikingly simplistic for a game with a history of, quite honestly, making things too robustly designed.
This is where my problem is. It is too simple. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want complicated, multi-mechanical, weird systems to explain factions. Systems like these can interact with others in ways we can’t predict. What I do want is something a little more definitive. Especially with how key the factions are for the latest adventure Dragon Heist. And doubly so since I just started running the adventure myself. So, I have been designing a faction system of my own. It expands out what we already have and gives you a large scaffolding for use in game. At least that is my hope.
Favor & Standing
Okay. The first part of the system includes replacing renown with favor and standing. The key thing to remember moving forward is that standing and favor go up together, but one can be spent. Standing is a total of the favor you have earned with a group and is most equivelent to renown. Favor is how much pull you have, how many favors you can ask for. Both are earned in equal amount based on what level a challenge is. It is rewarded similarly in the way xp is. Bounties act as specific creatures or individuals that a faction would reward you for defeating. Wanted criminals, orcs, beholders, whatever they are the CR determines the reward amount. More favor and standing is earned by completing quests which depend on what CR the quest is (determined by GM but generally ~ party level) and how easy it is. When a faction finds out that you have performed such deeds, just as with renown, you earn favor and your standing increases. With enough standing you increase in rank, just like renown. Below are examples of how much favor is earned.
Rewards are a big part of helping and joining factions in D&D. They align with your characters ideals, they offer rewards, and provide jobs for you. What you get out of it is generally undefined, based on what the GM is looking to offer and what the faction has access too (also something decided by the GM). My goal is to help define what any given faction might have access to and how much pull you need with that organization to ask for it and get it. That in mind, we all know you can ask for too much from someone and that is why we have favor and standing. Standing to mark how strong that pull can be and favor to track how many or how large of favors you may ask for. Below is the first two rows of the template I will be using to develop reward sheets for factions. What will be available will be determined by rank and will also be dependent on what organization it is. For example the Emerald Enclave might have elemental gems or certain druidic staves, while the Harpers would have items to help you sneak about or break into places. Spells scrolls and potions might also differ, as well as access to mundane items.
The last things I want to mention are the optional rules that will be included. These will be suggestions for how to use this system within the bounds of certain situations. First is the act of losing favor or renown. This is less an optional rule and more of an observation of what will inevitably happen in some form. You make a faction mad by failing, doing something they don’t like, or aiding an enemy. How does that affect this. Suggestions will include when you might manipulate favor, standing, or both and the narrative reasons to making that choice. Beyond that I will be looking at things like persuading a group to give you more than you can afford by going into a deficit of favor and, thus, how to make sure the player remember’s they how the group favors. Then, finally, there will be suggestions on utilizing this in regards to the party as a whole rather than each player, unless of course your group is really into the nitty-gritty tracking.
Hopefully, this very brief preview is enough to get you thinking about the potential I am trying to bring forward. In the coming two months I will be working this into a final document and putting it up for sale. If you have any ideas, questions, or thoughts just let me know in the comments below! The more I can address before the final draft, the better!