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Author Topic: Is Alignment an Anti-pattern?  (Read 22219 times)
Clyde L. Rhoer
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Posts: 391


« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2005, 09:57:58 AM »

Hi John,

Firstly, let me admit to being ignorant to what you mean by "design anti-pattern" This may make the rest of my post worthless. With that in mind, I think you are asking a weighted question. Let me quote you really quick.


The purpose of this thread is to determine whether Alignment is a Design Pattern or a Design Anti-pattern.

For it to be considered an anti-pattern, it must be shown that for all reasonable design goals, there is a better alternative to Alignment.  Conversely, for it to be considered a design pattern, it must be shown that there is some design goal that a properly implemented Alignment satisfies as well or better than all alternatives.


So...

A. There are two choices given.
B. One choice requires showing the set of all reasonable design goals in addition to comparing alignment to what may be fictional solutions.
C. All reasonable design goals is not presentable, and fictional solutions to many may not be definable, and even if they are definable the set is too large for reasonable discussion.
D. Therefore not B.
E. Since not B, then not A as one choice is not a choice.

Perhaps I'm missing something obvious, it wouldn't be the first time.

I think a better question would be : Is Alignment useful in game design? I realize that's opinion, but I doubt that game design is actually all that quantifiable. Here's a quick example that may satisfy your requirements for considering Alignment as an idea that could have some use in game design.

Design Goal:
To easily define enemies and allies.

Solution:
D+D alignment system.

Reasoning:
D+D is a system that revolves around combat, most of it's rules set up how strong a player can be, how strong their enemies are, and how combat takes place. If one takes the idea that players are supposed to be mainly good aligned characters. (There are special player classes that require goodness, but none require evil...certain non main rulebook exceptions withstanding) then alignment is a built in way to guarantee animosity with monsters, and facilitate getting into combat.

Now the rules for the D+D alignment system as written don't point to this goal as perhaps as well as they could. They instead pose as something that feels like an arbitrary morality system with no good rules of judging or enforcement. So this is perhaps an example of how alignment could be used well and not so well as a design tool.

-Clyde
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Clyde L. Rhoer
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« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2005, 10:08:01 AM »

Reading that over it sounds like my post can be read in a condescending voice. It was not intended that way.
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SicaVolate
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Posts: 3


« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2005, 06:36:38 PM »

Hey C,

The definition of "Anti-Pattern" as used here is in RPG Design Patterns, which can be downloaded from the bottom of this page: http://legendaryquest.netfirms.com/Download.htm

Quote
Sometimes, careful analysis of a design pattern concludes that, in every situation likely to consider a pattern as an option, some other design pattern would better satisfy the design goals. In such cases, that pattern becomes a design anti-pattern.

I would also like to submit that the intent of the alignment used in D&D might be a different pattern then the one used in Rifts. The Alignment Pattern as currently written seems accurate for Rifts and Warhammer. In D&D, it seems more like

Intent: Demarcate the intrinsic nature of characters in the game world.

That would mean that the roleplaying aspect of alignment is a consequence of its inclusion, not a goal. There were lawful and chaotic creatures all the way back in Chainmail, after all, before the dawn of roleplaying as we know it (primordial mists, 8-tracks, etc).
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John Kirk
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« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2005, 08:09:56 PM »

Owen and SicaVolate, in case I'm the first to greet you, Welcome to the Forge!

I think you are asking a weighted question.

Quite true.  Declaring a pattern to be an anti-pattern is a very strong statement.  It says: "Never, ever, do this."

As far as there being an infinite number of reasonable design goals, all I am looking for here are the set of design goals that we, in this thread, can dream up.  It's always possible we'll overlook an important design goal in our discussion and would be forced to re-classify Alignment later as a design pattern rather than an anti-pattern.

But, I think that the discussion that has transpired so far has pretty well convinced me that Alignment is a good option for some goals and is therefore not an anti-pattern.  I'm just not sure yet if it should be split out into more than one pattern, such as "Faction" and "Alignment", or whether a single pattern suffices.

For example, I could create a "Faction" pattern that rewards players for having their characters perform acts that support their own faction and conflict with others.  Such a pattern would promote conflict between factions.  The question currently in my mind is whether games that segregate various characters into "Alignment" categories but do not reward players for pushing inter-category tension represent a different pattern.

So, are there games that use "Alignment" to segregate characters into categories where those categories do not come into conflict with one another?  If so, what is the point?  Or, does Alignment necessarily introduce conflict between different groups to varying degrees?  If that is the case, then an implementation that introduced rewards would probably be superior to one that didn't.

I would also like to submit that the intent of the alignment used in D&D might be a different pattern then the one used in Rifts. The Alignment Pattern as currently written seems accurate for Rifts and Warhammer. In D&D, it seems more like

Intent: Demarcate the intrinsic nature of characters in the game world.

Yes, but to what end?  Why demarcate the intrinsic nature of the characters?  What purpose does that serve?  Is it to promote strife or is there some other design goal here?
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Blankshield
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« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2005, 09:47:28 PM »

So, are there games that use "Alignment" to segregate characters into categories where those categories do not come into conflict with one another?  If so, what is the point?  Or, does Alignment necessarily introduce conflict between different groups to varying degrees?  If that is the case, then an implementation that introduced rewards would probably be superior to one that didn't.

I would also like to submit that the intent of the alignment used in D&D might be a different pattern then the one used in Rifts. The Alignment Pattern as currently written seems accurate for Rifts and Warhammer. In D&D, it seems more like

Intent: Demarcate the intrinsic nature of characters in the game world.

Yes, but to what end?  Why demarcate the intrinsic nature of the characters?  What purpose does that serve?  Is it to promote strife or is there some other design goal here?

White Wolf also does this (did this?  I'm not taking my supplements...) at a very fundamental level: Nature and Demeanor.  I won't guess at Mark RH's reasoning, but from observation I would suggest that it's simply to give 'personality niches' in the same way that character classes/clans give functional niches.

James
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SicaVolate
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« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2005, 02:17:29 AM »

 
Yes, but to what end?  Why demarcate the intrinsic nature of the characters?  What purpose does that serve?  Is it to promote strife or is there some other design goal here?

The short answer is that slicing up the population into a set number of alignments provides a foundation to build game mechanics on.

As already mentioned in Artanis’s and Jasper Polane’s posts, in D&D alignment is more than just an outlook, it’s a physical property. It can be tested for. It can be repelled or attracted. It can be a vulnerability. It’s more like the electromagnetic spectrum than the moral spectrum, which is spot on for a high fantasy setting. Every hack fantasy writer that’s been trotting out “aura of evil,” “emanating dread,” “palpable evil,” etc for the past century has been leaning on the idea of intrinsic evil.

Effects such as magic circle against chaos, smite evil and turn undead all rest on the same idea, that is, that the characters involved have an intrinsic nature which affects the game world around them. This idea is contrasted with the Idiom pattern, which generally has a metagame reward for something the character does, and the Alignment pattern, which is drama advice or metagame restrictions based on what the character is.

Take this example idea from Breaking Out of Scientific Magic Systems by John H. Kim, which I was just reading:

Quote
In a given magic system, chance of success of a spell might depend on what type of spirits inhabit the place where it is cast. There is no spell which simply answers this. The magician would have to deduce from other clues to find this out. The spirits might follow the traditional humors: choleric, melancholic, sanguine, and phlegmatic. The spirits of a place would subtlely influence it according to their nature.

Why does Mr. Kim off-handedly break up the spirits into the traditional humors? Because it would be an easy way to decide which spirits are going to react which way to a work of magic. Roleplaying the spirits would certainly be affected by this system, but the primary thrust would be to make magic more interesting. That's what I'm talking about right there. Demarcating the intrinsic nature of characters in the game world so that you can attach the crunchy bits and make it matter to your resolution system, to whatever degree is appropriate.

Also, since praise was already heaped on you in the parent thread, I'll keep it short and say: great book.
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Arturo G.
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Posts: 333


« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2005, 03:17:07 AM »


What SicaVolate is saying has a lot of sense for me.

There are also games where all the characters of the players has the same alignment (order and code of behaviour), opposed to some NPC's alignment which are foes.

But think in Paladin. In this case it seems that the alignment works as a game mechanic that promotes colaborative work and clear objectives. However, the mechanics also allows the character shifting to the "black side". There is a temptation on using the power related to "bad" behaviour. The focus of the game is questioning moral issues related to the strict code of the alignment.

Cheers,
Arturo
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2005, 11:13:25 AM »

Looking at both D&D Alignments, which I like most people have played,

Design Goal: To easily define enemies and allies.

and Nobilis Affiliations, which I don't know at all,

Goal: Explain in simple manner, how divine beings behave in the setting.

I begin to wonder if "Alignment" is a functional pattern for a game in which moral issues are significant, but moral uncertainty is undesirable -- i.e. morality is important, but not the focus of the game: If morality were unimportant, there'd be no need for a rule; but if morality were the focus, you'd want rules about moral choices and uncertainties and conflicts, just as most wargame-derived RPGs have rules about tactical choices and uncertainties and conflicts.
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Owen
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Posts: 20


« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2005, 02:19:42 PM »

John, thanks for the welcome!

What Sydney said sounds good to me, and is to a large extent what I was trying (but failing) to explain earlier.  I find that Alignment is appropriate when one wants a factional membership to significant to the game (either in creating conflict with the players, or to demarcate some common enemy), but it is NOT desirable for change in factional membership to be a focus of the game or frequent.

For instance, D&D is designed to be played with all players being non-evil, and usually some form of good.  And while, as the game has matured, people have begun to explore the concept of alignment as a dynamic attribute, the game is really intended to be played with it as a static attribute.  Being good or evil is important, but killing things and taking their stuff is the focus.
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2005, 06:44:02 PM »

Being good or evil is important, but killing things and taking their stuff is the focus.

And I'd argue the "I'm good, they're evil, they'd do worse to innocents if I don't do them first" aspect is essential support for the "killing things and taking their stuff," because without that justification the heroic adventure becomes murdering & looting at best and ethnic cleansing at worst, which is fun-ruining for most people.
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Kintara
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Posts: 48


« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2005, 10:00:39 PM »

Hi, I'm Adam.

I think the D&D alignment system has certain idiosyncracies that I think are worth mentioning.  What strikes me about the system is the Law/Chaos axis.  I think that Good and Evil, as simplistic as those monikers are, do the intended job pretty well.  If you're Good, then Evil things are bad.  I think, if there's something in the system that fails to meet its design goal, it's the Law/Chaos axis.  In certain cases, it may certaintly make for an interesting way to frame a party's conflict (especially if you consciously cultivate its importance, like if you were play a "Robin Hood" game).  But I think that D&D alignment picks up an odd dissonance when a group tries to work within two moral/ethical dimensions.

I wonder if the system might improve if the Law/Chaos axis was subsumed into a system reminiscent of the Domains that Clerics can choose to devote themselves to.  If a Cleric doesn't wish to devote himself to a deity, he can choose abstract concepts to venerate instead.  I think that if the second component was a larger set of abstract concepts, like the list of domains, it might break some of the intraparty conflict and "square peg, round hole" definitional issues that occur with just Law and Chaos.  If a group, or character, wants to play up the conflict between freedom and order, then they can choose to align themselves to Law or Chaos.  But maybe they wish to define themselves some other way.  The trouble is that I can't think of a very long list of concepts.  It helps to subdivide Law and Chaos into a number of concepts, though, like Honor, Society, and Stasis.
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #26 on: October 13, 2005, 01:38:54 PM »

I stayed out of this thread to this point primarily because I'm one of the most prolific writers on the subject of OAD&D alignment, and find them one of the better features of the game.  That puts me at odds with a lot of players who, in my view, never really figured out how they were supposed to work or what they accomplished.

Let me simplify the two axes in a way you might not have heard before:
    Others over Self versus Self over Others.
    Society over Individuals versus Individuals over Society
In a very real sense, alignment was the real religions of the game, performing all the real functions of religious belief (I had already completed two degrees in theology before I discovered the game) for the characters in the game world. The deities materials were primarily color to differentiate effectively different denominations of similar basic beliefs.

As I say, I've stayed out of this because I really could say much more. However, alignment provided the core definition of how the character related to the world around him, and as such provided the framework for how he would naturally think about everything from government to slavery to charity to war and beyond.

--M. J. Young
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #27 on: October 14, 2005, 08:45:47 AM »

Sure, MJ, but did they function mechanically?

I think that some of the problem here is that we're thinking about alignment as part of the description of the character. Which all stats and such are, yes, but the question is do the mechanics behind the rules make the game play better?

Well depends on what those mechanics are, no? A large problem here is that we're also looking at many versions of the alignment rules, even if we only refer to D&D. I can think of three that I've seen myself in different versions of D&D, all of which had different effects (and I'm no D&D expert).

For example here are some things that aligment may or may not do in a system:
1. You must have one and only one. This is usual, though I think there are exceptions (to say nothing of the crossing of the axes in D&D). This alone has all sorts of ramifications.
2. The player is not allowed to intentionally change his character's alignment.
3. The DM can change the character's alignment if the character is played counter to the alignment.
4. The DM may penalize a character's EXP gains if they are gotten by doing something against his alignment. Sometimes these are flat penalties, or EXP denials, sometimes these are percentage deductions. Interestingly in some versions it was profitable to go against alignment if the opportunity costs of not taking an action exceeded the penalties.
5. Characters can be denied use of some abilities.
6. Some magical effects only work on characters with certain alignments. Both positive and negative.


Yes, MJ, alignment serves to describe the character's belief system, in theory. But does it lead to play in which those things are reasonably examined in any way? Most combinations of the mechanics above serve merely to provide incentive to play to the character's alignment, or punishments to play against it. Considering the gamism orientation of most D&D rules sets, does this fit in, in any really effective way? What most play about alignment ends up being about, in my experience, is how to get around the penalties and such to gain as many EXP anyway. Does metagame play to avoid playing your character to type really deliver what's sought here?

I have no problem with just rule #1 all by itself. That is, it makes sense to me to require players to say something about what their characters are like in their belief systems. But most of the rest of the implementation seems to be problematic to damaging to most of the potential goals of play that I can think of. Good idea, bad implementation.

Mike
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Shreyas Sampat
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« Reply #28 on: October 14, 2005, 12:31:27 PM »

What most play about alignment ends up being about, in my experience, is how to get around the penalties and such to gain as many EXP anyway. Does metagame play to avoid playing your character to type really deliver what's sought here?
A classic example of alignment failing to do anything meaningful is the common D&D strategy of making an all-good party, and defining all antagonists as evil. This way, alignment mecomes mechanically indistinguishable from "them and us".
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John Kirk
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« Reply #29 on: October 18, 2005, 10:05:27 PM »

I've split Alignment into two patterns: Alignment and Faction.  Their descriptions follow.  Do these capture the essence of what we've been discussing?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Alignment

Intent
Differentiate characters by segregating them into different categories that define how in-game events affect them physically.  Characters can also be distinguished by limiting their abilities based on these same categories.

Also Known As   
Not applicable.

Related Patterns
Faction, Idiom

Motivation
The goals of Alignment are easy to misconstrue.  This is because many games present alignment as a common characteristic that specifies how a player should portray his character.  Alignments are usually specified with words rather than numbers, the most common of which are “Good” and “Evil”.  To extend the field of aligned behaviors to a wider range of possibilities, many games specify a number of alignment characteristics, each of which must be assigned values.  In addition to “Good” and “Evil”, a game might require a player to decide between “Lawful” and “Chaotic” or “Social” and “Antisocial”, etc.  Because of these moralistic names, it is easy to come to the conclusion that a game having alignments is actually trying to persuade players to portray their characters in certain ways.  The text might even say this.  However, the Alignment pattern does nothing to promote role-play in any mechanical way (such as by rewarding players for doing so).  Thus, the pattern cannot really be described as a mechanical means of promoting role-play.  (Note that the Faction pattern, which is similar to the Alignment pattern, does provide rewards for role-playing characters according to specified belief systems.  Alignment and Faction are often used together, so it is easy to confuse the two.)

The Alignment pattern is useful, though.  One must simply recognize that the actual design goal which Alignment satisfies has nothing to do with promoting role-play.  Rather, its purpose is to differentiate characters by assigning various physical effects to some in-game events based on alignment categories.  It can also be used to distinguish characters by constraining character abilities based on their alignment category.  A character’s alignment might therefore limit the character to a subset of a game’s career choices.  For example, a player wishing to play a “White Witch” might be required to select a “Good” alignment.  Selecting this option might simultaneously prevent the character from ever becoming a “Black Witch”.  A game might even view “Good” and “Evil” as physical properties that can be detected and manipulated.  Thus, a “White Witch” might have specialized skills that have different effects based on the target’s alignment.  She might get a palpable sensation whenever evil approached, for example.  Or, she might be able to summon a “Radiance of Goodness” to aid her Good companions, hinder her Evil foes, or both.

Applicability
As a role-playing aid that gives guidance to players concerning the manner in which they should portray their characters, the Alignment pattern does a poor job.  Other patterns, such as the Faction and Idiom patterns satisfy this goal to a far better degree.  It is highly recommended that you understand these patterns before deciding to use the Alignment pattern as a role-playing guide.

As a means of differentiating characters based on pre-specified categories, the Alignment pattern excels.  Use the Alignment pattern if your goals include:

1)   A desire to define a fixed set of broad categories into which each character is placed.
2)   A desire to have in-game effects vary from one character to another based on his assigned category.
3)   A desire to limit player options based on the category to which a character is assigned.

Note that goals 1 and 3 can be satisfied by the Class design pattern.  If you do not want to vary the in-game effects of character actions based on a character’s alignment, you might want to consider that pattern instead.

The Alignment pattern tends to work well with the Skill and Gift patterns, but is less harmonious with the Traits pattern.  The reason is simple.  If you want to vary the in-game effects of various actions based on alignment, you need to specify exactly how those effects vary.  Pre-defined skills and gifts provide this opportunity in that each requires its own description.  The traits pattern, on the other hand, demands a more general rule describing how each player-specified trait interacts with the various alignments.  It is telling that none of the games analyzed in our study used both the Trait and Alignment patterns together.

The Alignment pattern mimics the Faction pattern in structure, in that both require characters to be placed in groups.  Consequently, many games combine the Alignment and Faction patterns.  Player options are constrained by a character’s alignment, in-game effects vary based on the alignment, and the alignment serves as a faction promoting conflict between the different categories.

Consequences
The Alignment pattern essentially adds a characteristic to each character that interacts with the game-world reality as if it were a physical property.  It can often be detected, leveraged, and manipulated as in various ways by game rules specifically designed to do so.  Although alignments are often identified by moralistic words such as “Good”, “Lawful”, “Evil”, “Antisocial”, and the like, they do not provide any mechanical effect to encourage players to role-play in any particular way (although many players will do so anyway because they closely associate a character’s alignment with his behavior patterns).

Since the alignment pattern seeks to vary the effects of actions based on a character’s alignment category, it can add a large burden to the game-writer’s shoulders.  The set of possible alignments essentially spans the entire game and has far-reaching consequences.  It is likely that a large portion of the skills and gifts contained within a game’s text will have alignment-based effects.  Each of these effects requires its own discussion to clarify the differences.  This means that the various skill and gift descriptions will be lengthier than if no variable effects existed.  You might decide to lessen your workload by having relatively few skills with alignment-based effects.  However, if you do so, you probably should reconsider using the Alignment pattern.  After all, why complicate your game for something that will only have a minor impact?

Implementation Concerns
If you decide to use the Alignment pattern, you need to concern yourself with categories to which you are going to assign characters.  The whole “Good” versus “Evil” alignment concept has been explored by a great many games.  So, you may want to avoid using these alignment categories in your own games to differentiate it from its predecessors.

Note that a game exploring the dangers and moral dilemmas faced by mountain climbers might categorize characters as “High Altitude Acclimated”, “Moderate Altitude Acclimated”, and “Sea-Level Acclimated”.  After all, these are broad categories that limit player options and the specific category would define the effects that a high-altitude environment would have on a particular character.  By spending sufficient time at a given altitude, a character may gradually change from one category to another.  So, it satisfies the pattern in a way that completely strips out all moralistic judgment of character behavior.

Samples
Same as currently in book

Known Uses
Same as currently in book

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Faction

Intent
Segregate characters into opposing groups to promote in-game conflict.

Also Known As
Clan, Code

Related Patterns
Alignment, Idiom

Motivation
A faction is a group or category to which characters belong.  A faction may be represented as an organization, such as a mob family or police department.  Or, it may be abstract, as is represented by the concepts of “good” and “evil”.  What is important is that factions adopt codes of conduct, either explicitly or implicitly, that come into opposition with what the game’s other factions consider acceptable.  Then, when a player has a character perform acts in accordance with his faction’s code, a counter response is demanded by characters of other factions.  This generates conflict to drive the story forward.

In a game with many factions, it is possible for different factions to have common goals at times.  In these cases, two or more factions may actually cooperate with one another for their mutual interests.  However, a well-designed faction system ensures that some factions exist that will take exception to virtually any action.  So, even though some factions may cooperate with one another on occasion, their collective opposing factions are likely to unite against them.

For example, in a modern-era game exploring the inhumanity of America’s underworld, a terrorist organization might link up with organized crime in order to obtain black-market weapons.  Neither of these groups trusts one another, and neither would go out of its way to support the other.  They might even come into conflict with one another on occasion.  But, the terrorists’ need for weapons and the black-market’s need for cash bring them together to serve their mutual goals.  However, an arms deal of this nature is likely to attract the attention of not only the local police force and the FBI, but also that of the CIA and Homeland Security.
 
Applicability
Conflict is the heart and soul of role-playing games.  The faction pattern does a good job of generating inter-group conflict but does a poor job of generating inter-personal conflict.  If your game is more about person-to-person conflict rather than group-to-group conflict, you may want to avoid introducing factions into your game.

Consequences
The Faction pattern introduces tension between characters in different factions merely by the fact that the characters belong to different opposing groups. When characters perform actions that support their own factions, they often oppose the interests of other factions and conflict inevitably results. 

Implementation Concerns
The Faction pattern does its job of promoting conflict between groups.  Characters in different factions will conflict with one another.  So, if you want to encourage cooperation between player characters, you need to either avoid using this pattern altogether or ensure that player characters all belong to the same faction.  At the very least, you need to restrict characters to a sub-set of highly-similar factions that generally get along well, even though minor differences will inevitably cause some degree of conflict to arise, however small.

You also need to specify each faction’s code of behavior, making sure that characters following that code necessarily oppose the interests of other factions.  This demarcation is critical.  Suppose you hear of a game where characters belong to law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, CIA, local police, or Homeland Security.  Would that tell you enough to let you know where the game’s major source of conflict arose?  Hardly.  Such a game could be designed such that all player characters are member of the “Law Enforcement” faction, working harmoniously in conjunction with one another to oppose crime in all its forms regardless of the specific organization to which each character belonged.  Or, it might be all about inter-agency competition where gaining credit for a “collar” was all-important, regardless of which agency actually deserved it.  In such a game, the actual solving of a crime might be of secondary importance.  Most likely, though, it would fall somewhere in-between these two extremes.

Factions can have either a minor effect on your game or a major one.  This ultimately depends on how much you reward players for having their characters support their factions in opposition to other factions.  The rewards can come in many forms.  However, if you want a character’s faction to have a significant influence on how players role-play their characters, make sure that the rewards given for supporting a faction are either:

1)   entirely independent of other reward systems or are
2)   the primary means of obtaining a given reward.

Once again, if you want factions to have only a minor effect on play, you probably should reconsider using this pattern altogether.  After all, why introduce complexity into your game for a minor benefit?  Strip it out and focus the rules purely on the game’s central core.

Samples
Suppose we want to create a game about the American Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s.  In doing so, we could create several factions modeled after historical groups involved in the movement.  Some of the groups and their beliefs might be described as follows:

Followers of Martin Luther King, Jr.
1)   All races are equal.
2)   All races should live together peacefully.
3)   Violence is unacceptable as a means to victory.

Followers of Malcolm X
1)   All races are equal.
2)   The black race should form its own separate nation.
3)   Violence is acceptable as a means to victory.

The Ku Klux Klan
1)   The white race is superior to all other races.
2)   Blacks and whites should be segregated.
3)   Violence is acceptable as a means to victory.

Known Uses
Nobilis has five “Affiliations” that act as factions.  These are “Heaven”, “Hell”, “Light”, “Dark”, and the “Wild”.  Each of these factions has its own “Code” and these Codes come into direct conflict with those of other factions.  For example, the highest principles of each of these codes are:

1)   “Beauty is the highest principle.” (Heaven)
2)   “Corruption is the highest principle.” (Hell)
3)   “Humanity must live, and live forever.” (Light)
4)   “Humans should destroy themselves, individually.” (Dark)
5)   “Freedom is the highest principle.” (Wild)

The primary reward system of the game involves awarding Miracle Points to players for having their characters follow their code in situations where doing so involves conflict.

The World of Darkness actually contains two forms of faction in Vampire: the Requiem.  One faction involves a vampire’s “Clan”, which represents a character’s particular breed of vampire.  Players must choose one of five clans: “Daeva”, “Gangrel”, “Mekhet”, “Nosferatu”, and “Ventrue”.   (Clans also follow the Template pattern, in that they provide characters with skills.)  Each of the clans has “Stereotypes” of how they view the other clans.  These stereotypes are universally derogatory, although each clan varies in the degree to which it looks down upon the others.  The other faction category involves a character’s “Covenant”.  A covenant is a vampire organization or government.  Players may choose from “The Carthinians”, “The Circle of the Crone”, “The Invictus”, “The Lancea Sanctum”, and “The Ordo Dracul”.  Each of these covenants has its own aspirations and is involved in political maneuverings against the others.  So, the game is brimming with built-in conflict.




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John Kirk

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