So, following yesterday's post, what does a DM do if you want to develop some factions? I think the best way to do this would be to develop each individual npc in the faction and see how the relationships result in a faction social dynamic. Bottom up.
But, perhaps you suddenly need several factions because the party travelled unexpectedly to a city you haven't fleshed out. Or maybe you just want to try and generate some factions the other way, top down. What to do?
I was toying with the idea of using chess pieces as a generative device. And you might still do this, the faction has members that are rooks, bishops, and knights and their abilities/relationships are somehow related to what those pieces can do on the board. But I'm not really a chess player (gasp). And the factions that were coming out of that framework were fairly simple and hierarchical.
Now, guild structures and militias may actually be fairly simple and hierarchical. But, by faction I'm thinking rather broadly. And also thinking of interpersonal relationships more than power structure (maybe the King is in love with one of the Pawns).
So what would yield a more complex, familiar structure that we could use to help here? How about this as a faction structure:
Christian, ze Bulette) seem pretty enthusiastic about professional sports. I figure a DM could take a sport they're familiar with and use that to build a faction or social web in-game fairly quickly. What is interesting is that they don't tend to form pyramids with one person in charge. The baseball grid looks like it has a triumvirate of influential people, the hockey grid, a pair pulling the strings.
Maybe you could think of what pcs are trying to do as plays: gaining guild membership requires you talk to A then B then C, your out! Or, you have to get by the goalie first.
You might even get more specific: "Okay, the Fighters Guild is like the 1978 Whoevers, this guy they're threatening is the pitcher, looks really impressive, but if the keep the pressure on he's totally going to choke."