Motivating players to join a faction

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bishopcruz
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Motivating players to join a faction

Hey all,

I'm DMing a game that just went to Sigil and there is a one year bit of downtime for my PCs, during that time, some of them are rolling new PCs. My main issue is that for the people who don't know PLanescape, which is all but one of them, no one seems to want to join any of the factions. I gave them the player's guide to the planes, and the response I am getting is that they are all 'crazy' and that they would rather not join any of them.

I'll let them do what they want, but I did remember having the same issue several years ago when I ran a 3.0/3.5 PS game. No one liked the factions at all, and I think a grand total of ONE player out of eight (insane number I know) ended up joining a faction.

I suppose it shouldn't bother me, but since the factions are such a big part of the planes, it seems like we're missing out on a lot without any factional alignments.

Anyone else ever have this problem? Any ideas or experience in selling the ideas of the factions to players?

KnightOfDecay
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I never really had a problem

I never really had a problem with selling the idea of the factions to the players. But in my experience it's a big difference if you start a game with planar PCs who are already faction members or if you start with clueless PCs (and players) which are not and from whose point of view joining a faction simply seems barmy.

I'd definitely encourage them to use the factions for their PCs (either for a newly created PC or an existing PC who might join a faction) as it's a great roleplaying experience and they'd miss out lot's of fun and one of the defining elements of Planescape.

But as you said, it's the players choice and if they are happy with it thats absolutely fine.
One factioneer PC can be a good start - when the other players see how much fun it is to play such a 'crazy' character they might follow.

You could also tailor some NPC contacts, neighbours, friends for your PCs (depending on their alignment, outlook, your idea which faction might fit for them) to represent reasonable notions of the factions philosophies and not the extremist outlooks they encounter most of the time.

Let the factions prove their philosophies (Signers creating stuff from thin air, Guvners finding loopholes...) and show what benefits they have to offer (the loyalty of strangers for Indeps, masterwork arms and special swordfighting technique for Sinkers...). Faction Points, faction related feats and faction prestige classes can be a great way to incorporate those elements into the game.

Glim
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Anyone else ever have this
Anyone else ever have this problem? Any ideas or experience in selling the ideas of the factions to players?

I'm in the exact same boat, and I have no suggestions.
I've never managed to make a player care about the factions, let alone join one.

Maybe the factions are just too weird, or maybe the idea of being tied to some organization is terrifying to an adventurer. I don't know.

I've tried a bunch of times, and by now I've simply chalked it up to my shitty DM'ing and have basically given up. The factions still run the city nominally, but without players willing to partake in the Kriegstanz, they are nothing more than The Police, The Morgue, The Court, etc.

Jem
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Perhaps PCs figure that the

Perhaps PCs figure that the faction philosophies are fairly rigid -- like the doctrine of religions -- and since they find some fault with them, they can't buy in wholeheartedly?

If that's the case, maybe show them some possible variations on faction philosophies:

a Guvner artist who finds beauty in shape and symmetry, a Guvner who rejects the concept of beauty as a nonentity;

a Sensate who has spent decades reading pages and pages of haiku, seeking perfection within the endless variations of a single miniature form, a Sensate wizard who researches more and more powerful divination spells in the hopes of finding an epic spell that can discover the knowledge that leads to ascension;

a true neutral Buddhist Sinker who seeks release from the wheel of karma; a righteous, paladin Sinker who believes that the world's Fallen state is the natural progression toward a final Tribulation, Armageddon and renewal.

Emphasize that there is more than one way to see a faction's philosophies. Once that obstacle's out of the way, they might be more willing to construct a variation of a faction philosophy that they agree with, and then see the advantages of membership.

KnightOfDecay
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You could also let them 'test

You could also let them 'test' playing factioneers in a one-shot parallel to your main campaign. I once did this with an Harmonium only group and it permanently changed my players perception of the faction.
As a nice extra, these ersatz PCs might show up later in your main campaign.

Simile
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Hooks and Playing Hard to Get

KnightOfDecay has a good suggestion:

Let the factions prove their philosophies (Signers creating stuff from thin air, Guvners finding loopholes...) and show what benefits they have to offer (the loyalty of strangers for Indeps, masterwork arms and special swordfighting technique for Sinkers...). Faction Points, faction related feats and faction prestige classes can be a great way to incorporate those elements into the game.

---

I've found that each player has a particular "hook" that keeps them interested. Whether it is a desire for better equipment, being able to plan and execute cunning plans, acting as a peace-maker, the trhill of battle, etc. Once you have that figured out - the next stage is to attach one or more Factions to that hook. But just don't make it too easy... the Factions want people who believe in their causes... After all Belief is Power.

The way that I have handled this in the past is to demonstrate (show, don't tell) the power of belief. Whether the classic sliding Gate-town, or other significant effect of belief. Once the players get to experience how belief effects the Planes in a tangible (and sometimes life-threatening way) - they start to see why people bunch together.

Coming back the hooks I had a player in one campaign who loved magic swords, he was obsessed with them. We spent half a campaign getting back one of his swords that was stolen. Anyway, he might be an ideal candidate for Sinkers, Godsmen, or Takers. The first because they have some of the best weapons, the second because they enable people to advance in forging the best weapons, and the latter because the player believed in earning everything he owned.

The final stage is getting the characters involved in the Factions. If the Faction says "welcome" and rolls out the red carpet - chances are the players will lose interest. But if the Faction makes it a bit harder and gets the characters to prove their worth of belonging in the Faction - suddenly it becomes a challenge and perhaps something worth fighting/working for...

(Sorry, not the most coherent of thoughts... I hope it makes sense)

Calmar
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Why not simply ask them to

Why not simply ask them to have their characters join a faction? It's a central aspect to the setting, after all.

Githyankee
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See, if it's a normal game

See, if it's a normal game that then goes to the Planes, it might be tougher to get them hooked in. Because they might feel pigeonholed.

I guess you could ask each player for a summary of what their character believes in, and try to match it up with a faction (or make up a sect that would fit it) and present some NPC contacts from those factions as 'kindred spirits' to the character.

If they aren't interested in that sort of thing, or aren't into the philosophy, then maybe you should just let it go and focus on a planar adventure that caters more to their interests.

Simile
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Different strokes

There are lots of different flavours of Planescape campaigns. Faction intrigue is just one of many. So if the players do not wish to join the Factions, that's perfectly OK.

What are important in my opinion are: the rule of three, centre of all, and unity of rings. When the players learn more about how belief shapes the Planes - they may wish to investigate how various groups have gone about harnessing that belief power, or they may not. Good luck!

Rolro
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Factions have legends about

Factions have legends about them, the Athar kill powers, Believers become them, Bleakers could walk the Far Realm ... that kind of power attracts players. Also free spell-like abilities.