Faction Relationships

The following text is adapted from the 13th Age Core Book

Inventing your character's relationship to the factions that rule or shape the world is key to engaging your character within the game world.

If you haven't already, scan over the factions and read the full entry on any faction that intrigues you.  As you decide on your relationship to the factions that suit your character, remember that it is the nature of this world that even the most powerful factions need a lot of help to accomplish their goals.  The factions have risen to power levels where they balance each other in an uneasy equilibrium.  To advance their agendas further, the factions need agents to tip the balance in their favour. You should feel free to make your character central to big plot lines if that's what suits you.

The fate of the factions is written in the stars.  Your character's fate, however, is in your own hands.

Relationship Points

At novice rank, each character starts with three relationship points.   The number of points you spend on each relationship is a measure of its overall usefulness.   Each die type costs one point (starting at d4).  No relationship may be increased above d8 (until you reach heroic rank).

The Faction Relationship Master Chart summarizes the likely roleplaying and story-oriented consequences of positive, conflicted or negative relationships with heroic, ambiguous and villainous factions.

Relationship Points are about Utility, not Strength

The number of points you invest in a relationship with a faction doesn't necessarily correlate with the closeness of the connection or the strength of the relationship.  It does correlate with the utility of the relationship.  It's not necessarily about how well the faction knows you or how strongly the faction feels about you.  Instead, the points reflect the chance that your relationship will be useful to you.

Therefore, you don't need to stick to the numerical strength of the points when you get to the hopefully atypical situation in which the characters are interaction with one of the factions.  Storytelling and roleplaying demands could take over, so you aren't forced to roll faction relationships in a situation where a faction is making an appearance. 

Using Negative Relationships in a Positive Way

The most straightforward way to use your relationship points is on positive or conflicted connections that provide you with outright assistance and useful information.

What, then, is the use of a negative relationship?  Usually, it provides inside knowledge, special skills, opportunistic allies or possibly some sort of advantage against a villainous faction.

If you have a negative relationship with a faction, you have a definite connection to that faction that can be exploited.  It's the old adage about not being able to hate someone properly if you don't love them first.  A negative relationship with a faction implies that you know enough about the faction to be a thorn in their side.  Your knowledge might even amount to some sort of destiny, a fated or seemingly  "just lucky" ability to thwart the faction's plans.  Confronting the faction's efforts needs to be part of your character's arc, and the information and opportunities that fall into your lap thanks to using your negative relationship needs to help you have bigger and better confrontations with your enemy.

Often, you might find that enemies of your rival see you as an opportunity to strike against that mutual enemy.  You might get help, wealth or resources from quite unexpected sources, some of which may not be entirely to your liking.  Choosing a negative relationship with a heroic or ambiguous faction is tantamount to asking for dramatic and unexpected twists to be thrown into your life…often.

A negative relationship with a thoroughly villainous faction is more in keeping with the heroic lifestyle, but you should expect that the assistance you get from a negative relationship may end up being more directly confrontational than more conventional conflicted and positive relationships.  If you are a player that likes to choose negative relationships with the factions, you must want conflict.  And you'll get it.

Remember, when you assign points to a relationship, you are the one deciding how useful this relationship is going to be.  Back that up by being creative with how your relationship applies to events in the game.  Negative relationships just require more work to make sense of.

Changing Relationships

When your character reaches veteran rank, you gain an extra relationship point.  Use it to increase an existing relationship by one die type or gain a d4 relationship with a new faction to match your character's story thus far.  You can't break the relationship maximum of d8 (yet).  Of course, you can save the relationship point and decide to apply it later, when there is a dramatic campaign event or a solid story reason for it.

At veteran rank, or any time thereafter, you can switch an existing relationship point from one faction to another.  You owe the MC and the other players an entertaining explanation of what this big change represents for your character personally, of course.

When you reach heroic rank, you gain another relationship point, which you can use to increase a relationship by one die type, including up to d10.  As at veteran rank, if switching a relationship point from one faction to another makes sense for your heroic character, go for it.

Faction Relationships

Savage Fallout World Xanderathos Xanderathos