It’s been building to this moment. You’ve talked about what your table wants. You’ve identified key elements. You may have even fleshed out characters. Now, it’s time to flesh out the game world you’ll be using for your sessions. It’s time to Detail Factions!
With Detail Factions, gamemasters will take all the discussion and enumerating of ideas that have gone before and put meat on the bones. Fortunately for us, Dresden Files Accelerated provides us with a very handy structure to do just that on p. 87 of the book:
- Goal: What’s the faction want? Pick just one, and be specific.
- Secret Goal (optional): Does the faction have another goal unknown to the players? If so, jot that down where your players can’t see it.
- Obstacle: What prevents the faction from achieving their goals? This might be another faction or even the player characters.
- Resources: What personnel, strongholds, and gear might call upon to aid in achieving its goal?
- Weaknesses: What is the factions Achilles heel?
- Aspects: Any aspects the faction might start off with goes here, though remember you can always add more during play so long as it makes sense.
- Next Steps: What is the faction planning to do next?
I’m a huge fan of this structure. It’s neat, simple, and succinct. It gets to the heart of things. However, you will need to work out a few other things beyond these bullets. Stat blocks if you have NPC’s as Resources. An index card or two for locations if they’re important enough. But for getting started, this structure will provide you with more than enough to get playing.
Let’s take a look at the Factions for Relics, starting with Monoc Securities:
- Goal: To find the truth to rumors that an ancient sarcophagus was recently unearthed in Kenya.
- Obstacle: Monoc Securities aren’t the only parties interested in the sarcophagus.
- Resources: The head of Monoc Securities, Donnar Vadderung. The head of the Special Operations Division, Froya Voll. The dynamic duo of the Investigations and Recoveries Unit, Alex Blackheart and Kaden Nuru. Forces of the Valkyrie and the Einherjar. Deep pockets. Libraries of magical tomes and vaults of artifacts.
- Weaknesses: Kenya is far away from Monoc Securities principal sphere of influence and its leaders centers of power.
- Aspects: Well-Respected Security Company, Eyes in the Sky
- Next Steps: Dispatching IRU to Kenya to investigate the sarcophagus and retrieve it, if possible.
It’s a given that the player characters would feature among the Resources at Monoc Securities disposal. But, this Faction also gives the players a good idea of what they potentially can leverage in play as well.
Next up is the mysterious Emerald Enclave, an African analog of the White Council comprised of shamans, witch-doctors, and mystics:
The Emerald Enclave
- Goal: Ascertain the truth of the ancient sarcophagus and prevent it from falling into the hands of Jelani Nzeogwu.
- Obstacle: The return of Jelani Nzeogwu, among other concerns, has stretched the Enclaves ability to respond to the possible threat the sarcophagus represents.
- Resources: Shomari Ironsi, Enclave elder. Other Enclave practitioners, availability permitting. The gathering place and stronghold of Zamani Mashimo, built into the hollow of a massive baobab tree. The accumulated knowledge of several thousand years of magical practice. Wealth built over the millennium. Connections and alliances with various communities throughout Africa.
- Weaknesses: Ignored by the White Council and the global community of magical practitioners, the Emerald Enclave often stands alone with few allies, besieged by enemies both mundane and supernatural.
- Aspects: Hardened by War, Keepers of Ancient Lore
- Next Steps: Shomari Ironsi has been sent to bring Kaden Nuru, one of the Enclaves most experienced shamans, home to aid their investigation.
The brainchild of Mathew, the Emerald Enclave is the sect that Kaden belongs to. When reconciling with canon, I think of them as something akin to a minor order or a power bloc within the structure of the White Council. The Council is very much a Greco-Roman institution, with its current power base in Europe. Given that the books themselves state that African wizards within the Council are one of the more numerous, yet disenfranchised groups, it makes sense that a group like the Enclave might exist.
Further than that though, I wanted to conjure something even older than the Council in the Emerald Enclave. Africa has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, and its practitioners should be inheritors to magical traditions more ancient than what we’ve seen out of the Council.
Now, for our crime syndicate:
- Goal: Hunt down and execute Alexandre Blackheart and Kaden Nuru.
- Obstacle: The two suki are strong kolduny with powerful friends.
- Resources: Demyan Markov, business tycoon and leader of the Solombalskya Bravta. Ivan Voronin, known as Brother Koschei, deathless assassin to the Solombalskya Bravta. Many soldiers. Large sums of capital.
- Weaknesses: Though Markov seems to know more than the average human about the true nature of the world, he and his subordinates are still only human.
- Aspects: Nigh-Unlimited Resources, Clued-In to the Supernatural
- Next Steps: Dispatch Brother Koschei to dispose of Blackheart and Nuru.
As I worked on our crime syndicate, I thought it’d be great to have their home base be a city well-known in the Dresdenverse lore: Arkhangelsk or Archangel, the city that formerly played host to a major stronghold for the White Council. In my mind, this branch of the Russian mob is relatively new but up-and-coming. Their boss, Demyan Markov, is wealthy and ruthless, and I would liken him to our favorite Chicago crime boss, Johnny Marcone, but a few books back.
Onto Nairobi’s very own Paranet cell:
Nairobi’s Paranet Cell
- Goal: Protect Nairobi’s magical community.
- Obstacle: Despite their determination, the members of the Nairobi Paranet simply lack the power and resources to contend with they myriad threats to the cities magical community.
- Resources: Nadira Marie Bello, acting-leader of the Nairobi Paranet. Various magical talents and occultists. A branch of the local leyline, diverted to protect their headquarters: the Solarin-Mallory Community Center. Access to the resources and information of the global Paranet.
- Weaknesses: Kenya is a land stalked by mighty predators, and Nairobi’s nascent Paranet cell are but blades of grass in a tempest.
- Aspects: Hunkered-Down, Collage of Talents
- Next Steps: Investigate the rumors surrounding the ancient sarcophagus and ensure it poses no threat to the city.
Established by the great Elewisa Solarin, a local-born wizard, Nairobi’s Paranet has been rocked by loss of late. This includes Solarin himself, who has gone missing. His apprentice, Nadira Bello, has taken charge.
Last, but certainly not least, is Nzeogwu’s Militia:
- Goal: Destroy the Emerald Enclave and all opposition to Jelani Nzeogwu.
- Obstacle: The Enclave has already defeated Nzeogwu once, and they represent the single greatest threat to his ascension.
- Resources: Jelani Nzeogwu, witch-doctor and necromancer. Several lesser magical practitioners. A strong, well-ogranized and funded army of fanatics, which can be reinforced by a horde of ghosts and risen corpses.
- Weaknesses: Jelani Nzeogwu, for all his power, is still one man against many.
- Aspects: Fanatical Cultists, Power Overwhelming
- Next Steps: Secure the recently unearthed sarcophagus in the name of Jelani Nzeogwu.
There are other Factions lurking at the edges of Relics Nairobi, but these five will be at the center of the action. Now all we need is an Inciting Incident…