Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Crafting Factions within a Megadugneon

The lifeblood of megadungeons is the faction. Today, I am going to build a faction for a dungeon. I am currently designing a red dragon lair, so I will build one of the factions for that place. In my notes, I list several groups that are servile to the dragon: kobolds, lizard-men, mushroom-men and a few others. I will write up the kobolds. They are a common enemies, so others may get some use out of this and they are interesting in this environment. One interesting note for this particular scenario is that the red dragon is already dead. The PCs know this going into the adventure, but the factions within its lair do not.

A look within my notebook
What are the steps to making a faction within a dungeon?

  1. Decide what the faction is
  2. Are there factions/sub-factions within the main group?
    (If so repeat these steps for them)
  3. Determine size of the faction
  4. Why does the faction exist?
  5. What does the faction need?
  6. Who are the NPCs within the faction?
  7. What other real world, game, or other factors need to be defined? Define them.
  8. How does the faction react to stimuli?
  9. How does the faction interact with the other factions in the area?

I decided very early on that the kobolds that worship the red dragon would actually be mostly white dragon bloodline kobolds. I decided to make them white dragon bloodline to keep the adventurers guessing. The majority of the creatures within the dungeon are fire-based, so having some cold using creatures available would be fun. 

As you can see from my bad handwriting, the kobolds are pretty populous, 113 total with 88 being white, and 25 being red. I don't need to know the personality of each, but I do need to know if there are factions/sub-factions within the group.  The kobolds believe they are working for a living god, and therefore always try to work towards its goals instead of their own. The act as a unified group, believing everything the king says comes directly from the mouth of their god, the red dragon. 

This is why the faction exists: to serve the red dragon. To fulfill this, their first faction goal is protect the god. If they believe interlopers are there to kill the dragon, the kobolds become and stay hostile. 

After protecting the dragon, the kobolds generally want survival. What does a group of kobolds need to survive? Food, water, resources to make weapons/armor (not all of the factions within the dungeon are pro-dragon), and a safe place for the group are necessities the kobolds look for. Any of these could be used to barter with the faction. 

Do the kobolds want anything else as a faction? Probably, but anything else they want should tie into the above mentioned goals. So, they may want some mushroom-men pushed out of a nearby cavern to grow their territory. They may want to control some fields outside of the caves to hold livestock for themselves and their dragon overlord. The kobolds may want treasure to add to the dragon's hoard. Once the main goals are established, it is easy to extrapolate what the faction wants going forward.

The next step in creating this faction is determining major NPCs for the party to role-play or interact with in other ways. My notes list a king, 12 lieutenants and 5 shamans. I don't need a lot of information on any one of these, except the king (who would be the negotiator in discussions).   

King Rech:  red kobold; king, leader
personality: boisterous, angry, eloquent, pious
features: one broken horn, stands a head above other kobolds

Shaman Torce: red kobold; high shaman
personality: quiet, forceful, pious
features: always wears a necklace of teeth
secret: knows red dragon is dead

Shaman Frist: white kobold; shaman
personality: defiant, abrasive
features: several scales on chest have begun turning green through molting

Other shamans: Frombe, Basht, Minak (all red)

Lt. Tunk: white kobold, leader of 7 white kobolds
personality: calm, calculating, patient
features: no horns, twisted snout
Hates Lt. Krask

Lt. Krask: red kobold, highest military rank (presides over all kobold soldiers)
personality: angry, reckless, distrusting, lazy
features: wears a helmet with a large red and white plume

Lt. Spear: white kobold, leads 4 kobolds (2 white/2 red)
personality: cowardly, daydreamer
features: mute, knows common and draconic sign languages

Other lieutenants: Eeyce (white), Bern (red), Tamp (white), Flathe (red), Ach (red), Trimpe (red), 3 more red

Finally, I determine the other aspects of the faction, as I think necessary for survival within the dungeon as a group:
Religions: worship red dragon
Economy: communistic, with no money. All valuables are given to treasure hoard of dragon.
Primary Food/Water Sources: hunter/gatherers, collect rain water or trek to river
Living Arrangements: largely communal, with alcoves for lieutenants and shamans, king has separate living area. Communal food preparation and consumption. King dines with commoners. 

Red Kobold

At this point, I have everything I need to run an ad-hoc encounter with the kobolds. I know what they want and have a good idea how they react to the stimuli of others. To make it a bit easier though, I want to codify certain things that the PCs may do.

If the PCs attack without negotiating: the kobolds are forever enemies, believing the PCs are there to kill the red dragon.
If the PCs mention the red dragon is dead: the kobolds do not believe them and become hostile. 
If the PCs offer assistance: the kobolds are weary until the PCs prove themselves. They become friendly after that.
If the PCs attempt to convince the kobolds they want to parlay with the dragon: the kobolds provide escort to where the dragon has instructed them to bring those who wish to capitulate to it.

Anything else the PCs do, I can extrapolate from this list how the kobolds react. I have not given the kobolds any specific quests for the PCs, as they may be forever enemies. Instead, I like to wait and see what and how the game progresses. I can always make up a McGuffin like the Kobold King's Signet Ring that was stolen by the fire sprites. 

Finally, how do the kobolds see the other factions (and vice versa)?

Lizard-men: bitter enemies
Mushroom-men: neutral, mushroom men are often a food source (mushroom men hate kobolds)
Fire Sprites: annoying little creatures, but also servants of red dragon (fire sprites think the kobolds a lessor species, beneath their notice except for entertainment through practical jokes)
Rocklings/Lavalings: these strange creatures are miracles of the dragon's power. (The -lings are not intelligent enough to understand the kobolds)
Salamanders: The dragon's Voices made flesh, never to be questioned, only obeyed. (The salamanders see the kobolds as pawns and expendable resources)