Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/04/25/tabletop-review-legendary-factions-common-factions-1/
If you’ve read any of my previous reviews of Legend, the d100-style game based on the RuneQuest II ruleset, you’ll know that a common complaint is that, in stripping out the Glorantha-specific rules that made it RuneQuest, you’re left with a system that demands a great deal of GM prep time and world building. This is more feature than bug, however, as it gives you a huge amount of flexibility in creating just the world that you want to play your game in. It would, however, benefit from a greater breadth of examples for the budding GM to use to model his own choices upon.
One area that will absorb a great deal of world-building time is the concept of guilds, cults and factions – the power groups and social organizations of the world, their hierarchies, special magical rituals and training regimes. These sound like the very kind of “fluff” that I live for in a well-defined game world, but starting from scratch can be daunting indeed.
For those who agree with this sentiment, I highly recommend picking up a copy of the John Brazer Enterprises book Legendary Factions: Common Factions 1. A relatively short book, covering just five factions in twelve pages, it gives a novice at the art of designing such organization additional examples what can be accomplished with them, including two divine cults, a sorcerous order, a mercenary order and a guild.
Each is laid out with most of a page of general detail that could apply to any game world, or honestly any game system, explaining what it known of the history, or at least an overview of the place of the organization in the world. This is followed up by some rule-specific entries including the skills and spells that are associated with the group, and finally a section detailing the ranks and roles within the organization, and the rights and responsibilities thereof.
The book really served me well by giving me some additional ways of thinking about factions in my games – including non-magically oriented groups, for example – as well as laying out how little mechanical crunch is required of the GM in setting them up. The bulk of your time is spent on honest creativity, devising backstory and plot hooks to weave into your game and your world.
Even at the original price of $2.99 (it’s going for $1.99 right now) the book is a welcome addition to your Legend or Runequest library for a pittance. I highly recommend it, whether you intend to insert these organizations into your game wholesale, or simply use them as inspiration and a template to work from to create your own material.