Previously we talked about making what happens in your game matter to your players by making things personal, and then we talked about letting your players tell you what's important and how to use the old reoccurring mastermind trick.
This time we'll talk about factions. Groups of people who have their own agendas and have plots and plans in motion.
Factions are useful in a lot of ways.
World Building and Continuity
For one thing factions help with building the world in your players minds and with continuity. If your players keep bumping into The University of Doors, The Order of Truth, the Convergence, and other factions, your version of the Ninth World comes alive with the give and take of organizations and movements bigger than the adventure you are running. It's a big world out there, and the PCs aren't the only movers and shakers in it.
Anchoring PCs to the world
Factions can create ties to player characters. If a glaive in your party has a backstory of being in an order of bodyguards to Aeon Priests, that player is just begging you to run adventures that include the Order of Truth. If not, you can invite them into such an organization after an impressive performance that aligns them to the order. Give them a badge or amulet that shows they belong.
Factions are great adversaries. The party may have defeated one plot from the Convergence, but the Convergence can always be relied to up the ante next time. The organization itself become the reoccurring villain.
The Amber Papacy
The biggest faction in the Ninth World are the Aeon Priests and their Order of Truth. They can be a big help to the characters, and may act as patrons. But what of the ties between the Order of Truth and the Angulan Knights? How does that sit with a mutant character? Are there factions within the Order of Truth who support mutant rights? Factions within factions?
The Steadfast is full of monarchies, all of which contain factions. Are the PCs acting for the Queen of Navarene? One of her enemies?
Factions with Faces
Players won’t react strongly to abstract factions. A faction needs a face. Use NPCs that you roleplay to represent the faction. For examples, check out the People of Renown at the back of MCG’s The Ninth World Bestiary. What if Magistrix Nelgadara tries to recruit a player character into the Convergence? If the PC refuses to go along, will the Magistrix use him as a double agent? And what if you then throw the players into a Convergence scheme, such the Three Sanctums adventure from the core book?
Watch your players. If they react strongly to a faction, think of ways to bring it into your adventures. If the faction matters to them, then the adventure with that faction will matter to them.