RPG Carnival II: Homebrew

RPG Blog Carnival
RPG Blog Carnival

This month’s RPG Carnival is being hosted by Donny the DM over at The Fine Art of the TPK,  also known as the Flumph Sanctuary.  The topic is homebrew.

Homebrew is a topic right at home here at the Labs, since the initial reason I started this blog was to document the brewing of my own d20 rules and the original setting to go along with it.  You can find posts related to these topics on the menu on your right under the categories of Echelon (my d20 rules), The Dead Wastes (my original setting), and the Mad Menagerie (homebrew monsters).

I suppose I gravitate to the positiion of Game/Dungeon Master or Storyteller because I have this need for creation.  It is like a fire I need feed inside my brain.  Am I good at it?  Well only time will tell.  But regardless of the quality, the desire to create is always there.  Thus, I have created over a dozen homebrew worlds, each one better than the previous.  Most of them were pick up games that we played because the current DM didn’t have time to prepare stuff for our regular campaign, or we were missing key players.  So I would basically create geography, hooks, encounters, and personalities on the fly.

I am going to take the opportunity presented by the RPG Carnival to outline a subsystem of the Echelon Gaming System: Factions & Reputation.  I have never put much stock in alignments, and always felt that they either were ignored or were too constraining when actually applied.  I think they were originally intended as a guide for roleplay, but I feel that players can create their own guide(s).  So I have replaced them with a Faction node system.

I say node system because each Faction is represented in a node.  A node can have mulitple parent and child nodes, so the system can become very complex, however it can also be quite simple, since technically there could just be one node.  I like my games crunchy, and the Faction node system definitely delivers.

Factions work very similar to how Organizations were set up in 3.5, except I have expanded them.  I have made the extremes of the traditional alignment axes [Good & Evil, Law & Chaos] top level nodes in my system.  Each node contains two lists of behavior: Acts of Favor and Acts of Disfavor.  Each act has a numerical value that is added to your Reputation score whenever you perform one of these acts.  Every faction has a list of Benefits and Detriments.  You gain access to a benefit when your Reputation meets or exceeds the value listed.  Detriments automatically take effect when your Reputation is less than or equal to the value listed.

Some acts have a waiting period, which means it is either measured over that period of time, like Tithe, or you must continuously perform the act.  Also, the Rep gained from certain acts can be lost after a certain time has elapsed without the character performing the said act.

Example Faction:


Good is the substance of moral fiber, selflessness, and making the right choice instead of the easy choice.  The gods that serve the greater good can recognize the mark that doing good deeds leaves upon the soul.  Agents of Good will aid those with this mark but will seek to intervene in the malicious activities of the agents of Evil.

Acts of Favor                                   Value     Waiting Period    Lost

  • Worship at Good Temple                    5              Immediately           1 month
  • Tithe 5% of worth to Good Temple*    10            1 Season                1 Season
  • Feed the Hungry                                 20            Immediately           1 Month
  • Save the Helpless*                             30             Immediately           Never
  • Complete Good Quest*                      Variable    Immediately           Never

Acts of Disfavor                               Value**  Waiting Period    Lost**

  • Acts of Favor for Evil Faction              x 1.5         Immediately          x 5
  • Ignore the Hungry                               10             Immediately          1 Month
  • Theft for Personal Gain*                      20             Immediately          1 Year
  • Condemn the Helpless*                      55             Immediately          Never
  • Kill the Defenseless*                           100           Immediately          Never

Benefits                                           Value    Uses

  • Lodging                                              40           1/week
  • Diplomacy I                                        60           Always
  • Ritual Blessings                                  70           1/month
  • Library Access                                    80           1/month
  • Diplomacy II                                       100         Always
  • Quarters                                             200         Always
  • Discount Healing                               250         Always
  • Supplies                                             300         1/month
  • Diplomacy III                                     400          Always
  • Divine Assistance                              500         1/season
  • Sanctuary                                           600         1/year
  • Free Healing                                      750          1/week
  • Resurrection                                      1000        1

Detriments                                           Value

  • Deny Healing                                       -25
  • Emnity I  (negative diplomacy mods)       -50
  • Emnity II                                             -100
  • Emnity III                                            -200
  • Attack on Sight                                   -350
  • Pursue                                                -500
  • Hunted                                               -750

* These acts can be performed more than once, Tithing is per 5% donated during the waiting period.
** A multiplier in a Acts of Disfavor means you multiply the original value with this figure.

This is just an abstraction, and I haven’t provided many of the details, but more than enough information for any DM to apply this sort of structure to his or her own campaign.  Some variations on this idea included having the Church of Pelor be a child faction of Good.  One of the benefits could include access to custom spells or prestige classes such as the Radiant Servant.  As you can see, some complicated levels of Faction interactivity could be accomplished.  Such as gaining Rep in one faction can reduce the Rep of another, and not at a 1:1 ratio.

There are some drawbacks to the system, with the obvious being the additional overhead of tracking Reputation, but things could be streamlined so certain Reputation points don’t expire.  As a DM I expect you’ll either love it or hate it.  And some people will make the MMORPG statement, but the idea of reputation and factions is far older than MMOs; in fact, I remember how fun messing with the factions from GTA 2 was back in the late 90s.

Listening to: Silent Civilian – Rebirth of the Temple – Bitter Pill

One thought on “RPG Carnival II: Homebrew

  1. Interesting approach. A little bookkeeping heavy, but it is a VERY good way to keep tabs of what your players are up to.

    Personally, I prefer the alliances/allegiances system used in d20 modern. It is pretty vague, but sets…anchor points that that character has to answer to.

    That has always been a flaw in D&D’s alignment system, no accountability. If you are not playing one of the few classes with an alignment dependency, it matters little outside of the group dynamic. Even then, it is watered down to become “I’m playing a paladin, so none of you be evil ok?”. Lame.

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