There are a few things in D&D Fifth Edition which I feel could be expanded upon to great effect. One of these is Downtime (which I have attempted to expand on here), and another is Factions.
In the base D&D rulebooks, factions are a bit of an abstract. In Organized Play they are a bit more structured, but even then gaining reputation within the faction is a linear process that happens automatically as you play in the Adventurer’s League rather than being an entity in the world that you can choose to interact with (or not) for mutual benefit.
This rules module attempts to expand this idea by presenting an example faction, the Knights of the Towerwatch, that as the PCs gain renown with various privileges and amenities are unlocked. However, this goes both ways, and the PCs can get negative ranks with this faction, which could cause some complications for the PCs. This faction could be easily renamed for use in your world.
Eventually I would like to come up with multiple factions that are a bit archetypal (a knighthood, a thieves’ guild, a mage university, etc.) so that players could take those and shape them to their world with minimal effort.
The Knights of the Towerwatch
(pdf coming soon)
The grand city of Valenport is protected by a large bay that one must pass into through a small strait of rocky cliffs. At the point where the corners of the land are closest to each other, two large towers sit on either side of the strait, bridged by a large rampart. Any ship wishing to reach Valenport must pass between these two towers and under the bridge, and all are watched by the guardians of these towers: an order of knights called the Knights of the Towerwatch.
The Knights of the Towerwatch are a powerful faction within the city of Valenport, and are well known throughout the ducdom. They command a good number of men-at-arms, knights, and have access to a robust war chest. The Knight Commander herself, Kerwyn the Bold, sits on the city council as a special advisor dealing with issues of defense.
The Knighthood is a secular one rather than one dedicated to a god or religious order, and an entrant must be of a noble bloodline with patents of nobility on hand. The knighthood sometimes allows for special access into the order for exceptional individuals who have proven their valor in defense of the city of Valenport and the protection of the weak and innocent. Usually such special access comes with a request to the Duc of Valen to ascend the individual into the peerage of nobility.
Interacting with the knighthood as well as certain actions can give you renown, which must be obtained in order to gain ranks in the faction. Each level of rank comes with a certain number of privileges, or in the case of negative ranks, disadvantages. For those not of noble birth, reaching a high level of renown will often lead to the order inviting them to join. Those of noble birth can request normal entrance at any time, though it might not be granted.
Joining This Faction
You do not have to be a member of the knighthood to gain renown with them. However, there are two ways to join this faction.
- Be of noble birth – Any of noble birth who show promise in the art of combat as well as speechcraft will be allowed to join for a trial period.
- Special Access – Any individual who has shown exemplary skill in the realm of combat, honor, and bravery and has aided the knighthood or the city of Valenport may be allowed to join. The Duc of Valen will be contacted by the Knight Commander with a request for ascension into the peerage. This is not often declined in this rare occasion. The individual will be raised to an (unlanded) Baron or Baroness and be given the right to a signet and the ability to purchase land rights from the realm.
When one joins the knighthood because of noble birth, that individual is a Squire. In order to stay one must show skill at arms with martial weapons and heavy armors. At level 5 they are considered a full knight. If joining the knighthood at level 5, you are considered a full knight.
At level 10 the character can be risen to advanced ranks like captain.
A character who is a part of this knighthood has access to the first three ranks privileges, but must gain renown above that as normal to access the others.
Completing a task or quest for the faction usually grants 1-3 points of renown. These tasks often revolve around the defense of Valenport, or fortifying the Knighthood’s position among the other factions of the city. The more major a task, the more renown should be awarded.
When you have enough renown, you can gain a Rank level in the faction, unlocking privileges. Keep in mind that unless you are asked, however, you are not an official member of the knighthood.
Completing a task or quest unrelated to the faction might also gain them a point of renown if it were of particular valor and involving the defense of Valenport.
If a character steals or commits an act of violence against a member of the knighthood (and they know about it), the character loses 1 rank with the faction immediately, including losing renown to the minimum level of renown needed to be of the new rank.
If a character kills a member of the knighthood, they lose all ranks within the faction and drop to -1 rank. If they were already at 0 rank or lower, they are instead brought to -2 rank. If already at -2 rank, they are then at -3 rank.
|Rank (Renown Needed/ Level required)||Advantages and Privileges (or Disadvantages)|
|You are an enemy of the order. The knighthood actively hunts for your character, either attempting to imprison you or outright slay you.|
|You are considered a hostile, and any member of the knighthood that comes across you is likely to challenge you to a duel or otherwise attempt to embarrass or dishonor you.|
|The knighthood does not trust you, and will refuse to interact with you until you go out of your way to attempt to appease them.|
|The order is neutral toward you, and might offer you work.|
(Renown: 1/any level)
|You may begin to add your numerical rank with this faction to any Charisma checks made that involve a member of this faction.
You can access trainers for any martial melee weapon proficiency as well as heavy armor proficiency for the normal cost.
(Renown 3/any level)
|You gain access to the quartermaster and smithy of their tower fortress. They sell any non-magical weapon or armor listed in the PHB, as well as most things from the equipment and gear list. Their base sell value is that of the PHB, -1 GP for every point of renown you have with this faction (to a minimum of 0). They will only sell (or give away) three items to an individual each day however, or in the case of ammunition 30 pieces.
You may now find free lodging at the tower fortress in the guest quarters.
(Renown: 10/Level: 5)
|You gain access to their library. Any who use the library for research will gain advantage on Intelligence (history) checks involving the lines of nobility and the history of defense and war of Valenport.
If an individual at this rank level is proficient in martial weapons, shields, and heavy armor, the Knighthood will offer them special access to join as a knight of the order, giving you the following benefits if you agree:
You gain access to the special armory, and the quartermaster will now sell you up to 4 potions a day. The following potions are for sell: Potion of Healing (50gp), Antitoxin (50gp), Potion of Resistance (80gp), Potion of Heroism (400gp).
You gain access to the orders master trainers. They can train any martial melee weapon proficiency, heavy armor proficiency, and history. (When using a master trainer, the fee per day is tripled, 1 day of downtime spent training counts as 2, and training for 10 days straight grants you 1 bonus day worth of training at the end.)
A character that is not a member of this faction cannot gain any more ranks beyond 3.
(Renown: 25/Level: 11)
|You may now at any point request the commander for men or women at arms to help in your quest. The commander will grant you 2d4 NPC knights who are members of the order. They will follow your orders and will go into battle for you.
However, they will not needlessly endanger themselves and will refuse an order that would result in their death unless it is for the protection of Valenport or the knighthood.
You are also given a +2 weapon of your choice.
(Renown: 50/Level: 17)
|In reward for your exemplary service to the order, the Knight Commander will grant you a boon. The boon can be of the following:
You are also given a seat on the Lord’s Council of knights, and can have a say in the running of the knighthood.