Sunday, January 18, 2009

[House Rules] Faction Reputations


Characters gain positive and negative reputations among the various factions active in the campaign setting. Reputation values affect non-player character reactions as a direct modifier to reaction rolls, and may also represent how well known a character is to members of the faction.

Reputations may be positive (fame/renown), negative (infamy), or neutral.

  • Loved/Famous [+3]
  • Highly Regarded [+2]
  • Generally Liked and Respected [+1]
  • Neutral [0]
  • Distrusted [-1]
  • Disliked [-2]
  • Hated/Reviled [-3]
Individual Reputation:

If a character’s identity is known and recognized, a reputation modifier is applied to all social skill rolls and NPC reactions that character has with members within the particular faction. At least, it is among those who care. If a character is unknown or unrecognized, then no reputation modifier is applied.

Recognition Checks:

A character may be recognized casually, or even spotted if he is trying to remain discreetly incognito (not using the S. If the GM decides a check is a appropriate, such as if a character is running around out in the open, or is attempting to lay low in the stronghold of an enemy, then a test should be made to see if a character is recognized. A d6 is rolled, and the absolute value of the character’s relevant Reputation modifier is applied. On a success, the character is casually recognized and may or may not be called out directly. On a raise, the character not only is recognized, but is recognized with a correspondingly strong reaction, such as great fanfare or immediate mob hostility. This d6 roll is not open-ended.

Example 1:
Gavin Dace is a well known mercenary soldier who, through repeated engagements, has earned the enmity of many persons in the White Dragon Pirate Clan. He is considered generally disliked (-2) among that faction. Having taken a job to disable a small pirate frigate/clan barge, he is dropped off clandestinely to mix among the general population until he can make his way to the engine core. Though he is sneaking around, and trying to keep his presence and identity a secret, he’s had to interact with a few people in order to pursue his mission. Thus, the GM decides that a recognition check is in order. Rolling a d6+2, he gets a total of 5. Gavin is recognized by someone, but not in a way to elicit a mass response. The GM decides that someone reported his presence to someone with greater authority. About twenty minutes later, Gavin makes a Notice roll and realizes he’s being tailed by a handful of armed fighters who seem to be trying to maneuver him away from the civilian population and toward someplace a little more remote…

However, had the GM gotten a raise on his Recognition test, things could have been worse. In that case, the GM may have decided:

Someone in the crowd calls out, “My god! It’s the Butcher of Barbarossa!” and suddenly all eyes are on Gavin. Indeed, several brutish men level their pulse carbines even as they push through the crowd toward Gavin. A panic ensues, and Gavin has little chance in these hostile waters but to make a run for it…

Group Reputation:

Sometimes, a known group of characters (such as many groups of Player Characters) may find themselves in social dealings with a major faction. Individual reputations here are of limited importance when compared to the total composite picture presented by the group as a whole. Guilt by association with a known enemy may tarnish even the most loved individual.

To determine the reputation of a group, calculate the average reputation of its individuals. Any remainder should be rounded down to the lower value.

Gaining Reputation:

The Game Master should consider giving reputation bonuses when characters have performed a number of beneficial tasks for persons of some social importance. Working for an up and coming politician doing “odd jobs” is likely to earn a positive reputation value among people in that faction. However, no amount of helping Joe the Bookseller is likely to affect character reputations in the slightest.

While there are no hard and fast rules governing precisely when a Game Master should assign additional Reputation points, there are a few key factors to remember. As mentioned previously, working for important people, especially figures of high public profile or social prominence generally has a positive impact. Being successful, really successful, also helps. No one is going to care that some hired mercenaries fought at the battle of Ajax's Star, regardless if they win or lose. However, if those mercenaries executed a plan that that not only won the day, but saved the lives of dozens, maybe even hundreds, of their allied soldiers, people are going to remember. Publicity can make or break a reputation. A good public image, presented to a wide variety of people, can have a definite positive effect on how a character is treated. If even a comparatively minor task is completed successfully while under public scrutiny, the task may earn a character substantially more public esteem than if few, or no, people bore witness to the acts. Lastly, acts of public service, helping people and civic minded organizations, may help establish the notion that a character has good intentions.

In short it all breaks down to considerations of Scale, Scope, Service, and Success. A Game Master should consider:
  • Increasing a reputation to +1 when a character has performed several tasks to benefit the faction and its people.
  • Granting a reputation of +2 when a character has undertaken not only several tasks that benefit a faction, but has done so at great personal inconvenience and with results that may have demonstrable long term effects.
  • A reputation of +3 is extremely rare, granting it only to those characters who have repeatedly and publicly achieved great victories for a faction, and have done so in ways with definite immediate as well as long standing effects.

Losing Reputation:

Just as a character can earn the general esteem of his fellows, so too may he lose it. And in truth, it is probably a lot easier find oneself with a negative reputation. The Game Master should consider lowering a reputation value when a character becomes well known for something negative. Failure, Hostility, Dishonesty are all common traits that will earn a negative reputation.
When character acts openly hostile toward the faction or interests of the faction is also cause for lowering reputation. As with gaining reputation, the scale of the situation should be weighed in consideration. Trashing Joe the Bookseller's shop will probably not have much impact on a character's reputation. However, attacking a space port most definitely will. The intensity of this reaction increases if people and/or property were damaged, killed, or destroyed. A reduction in reputation will also occur over time if a character ignores the faction. Reputations fade, its a terrible, terrible truth. All reputations, if not maintained, will move inexorably toward zero (0). Positive Reputations backslide more quickly, but even negative reputations, given enough time, will fade.

A character should earn:
  • A -1 reputation when proven unreliable or untrustworthy, or has become well known in a negative light for actions taken indirectly against the faction or its interests.
  • A reputation of -2 should be assigned when that character is noted as being dangerous and/or hostile toward the faction both publicly and privately.
  • A reputation of -3 should be assigned when the character is proven a dangerous, public menace, and inimical to the efforts and agendas of the State and its peoples.

Adjusting Reputations – The Enemy of My Enemy and Guilt By Association:

Having a particularly high (+2 or greater) or low (-2 or lower) reputation with one faction may influence the reactions of its allies and enemies. For example, in the Future Perfect setting, the Regency and the Alliance are locked in a rapidly escalating cold war. A character who is highly regarded within the Regency could very well find himself distrusted by the powers that be within the Alliance and thereby handicapped by the biases of the faction. When reaction and recognition rolls are made, apply the modifier listed below. However, if the character is neutral in the region, no extreme effect from a raise is gained.

If this Faction is:
  • Being Conquered/Exterminated by one or more other Factions with whom the character is in high favor [-3 Penalty]
  • Openly Hostile with multiple Factions who hold the character in high favor [-2 Penalty]
  • Openly Hostile with a Faction who holds the character in high favor [-1]
  • Allied with one or more Factions who strongly dislike this character [-1]
  • At odds/contending with multiple Factions who hold this character in high favor [-1]
  • Openly Hostile with one or more Factions who strongly dislikes the character [+1]
  • Allied with one or more factions with whom this character is in high favor [+1]
  • Being Conquered/Exterminated by one or more Factions who strongly dislike this character [+2]
No reaction test may be adjusted to more than +3 or -3 from the reaction adjustments listed above. For example, if a character is already Loved in multiple regions of space, he does not gain the additional +1 modifier.

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