Content of the article: "Factions: Higher Tiers Necessitate High Level Play"
Recently I have been struggling because my players leveled up into the Heroic Tier, and I was shocked at how much more powerful they have become. The things that used to challenge them are no longer challenging, the game has changed, and I have to adapt.
The players are on their way to becoming superheroes. The scope of what they can control has increased, and so the game necessarily gets more high level.
The players begin to exert their influence over the world around them in a big way, and therefore, they attract new allies and enemies which seek to use the PCs to further their own goals. Faction level play offers a greater challenge which high level players need in order to keep the game interesting.
I'm sure you can tell, my play style has been influenced significantly by MCDM's "Strongholds and Followers."
Faction Captains are DMPCs that take their turns in between weekly PC sessions. Just like the PCs, they are questing throughout the world in order to extend their power and influence. They operate independently, and they may or may not cross paths with the PCs.
As an example, below, I will sketch out the faction of my BBEG, who is a Mind Flayer Ulitarid.
Mind Flayers from Ch'Chitl:
Their settlement is Ch'Chitl, in the Northdark, 18 miles under the Sword Mountains.
Zask Draogul Tresk
Assimilate more brains, especially brains with a lot of knowledge or expertise. Acquire more thralls, especially thralls in higher social stations, to gain influence on the surface world. Learn more about their origins, especially the wreck of the Spelljammer scout ship. Re-establish contact with the main Mind Flayer fleet. Recover lost technologies from the wreck of the Mind Flayer Spelljammer. Smuggle exceptional brains from the surface back to the Elder Brain for assimilation.
Ch'Chitl The Laughing Flute Brothel in Waterdeep
Resources and Income:
Smuggling operations managed by Thralls, bringing in: 500 GP Per week Underdark mining operations staffed by thralls bringing in 500 GP worth of diamonds per week 3,000 Ignorant Thralls (Humanoid cattle raised in the underdark for food and breeding stock) Laughing Flute Brothel in Waterdeep, bringing in 1 Thrall and 500 GP per week
Ambassadors, Agents, and Foreign Relations
Ambassador from Phanlinksal, beneath the Lurkwood, friendly relations Ambassador from Oryndoll, under the Shining Plains, neutral relations Ambassador from Ryxyg, in the Deep Wastes, underneath the Dalelands, rivalry. Ambassadar from the Duergar city of Gracklstugh, Hostile Relations Ambassador from the Drow city of Menzoberranzan, Neutral Relations Sark Blankley, Captain of the Zhentarim and Mind Flayer Thrall. Sark got his start as an independent smuggler, where he found success, and eventually got inducted into the Zhentarim. The Zhentarim gave Zark access to resources, which he used to expand to a fleet of smuggling ships, and he quickly rose to the rank of Captain. He met an ignominious fate in a brothel in waterdeep, when one of his consorts drugged him and brought him to Zask, who enthralled him. Control over Sark has allowed Zask to expand his influence into the Zhentarim. Zask uses the Zhentarim to smuggle brains from all over the surface world to Ch'Chitl, so that they can ingest them and gain valuable intelligence. Bertram Greenbottle, Captain of the Waterdeep City Watch and Mind Flayer Thrall Vicky Tealeaf, proprietor of the Laughing Flute Brothel in Waterdeep and Mind Flayer Thrall Wymar Hardy, Student at the Wizard's College of Neverwinter, Mind Flayer Thrall
100 Humanoid Thrall shock troops 3 Mind Flayers trained in Military tactics 1 Mind Flayer Arcanist 1 Mind Flayer Scion 3 Enthralled Quaggoth Thonots 20 Enthralled Quaggoths
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