MLMP: EQ's Faction System

  • EverQuest (EQ) has a fairly unique faction system in the MMOG world that I haven't really seen implemented elsewhere. I think it really adds to the fun of the game and creates a dynamic experience that can be vastly different for different characters. If you don't know what faction means, it's basically a group of people sharing a point of view.

    In EQ, there is the concept of factions that are associated with/assigned to NPCs (in other words, an non-player character (NPC) "belongs to" one or more factions). Many, many factions. ZAM's EQ database has over 600 faction entries. Neriak alone (the Dark Elf home city) has probably 20 factions or more among the various "ruling families", guilds, races, etc.. Nearly every NPC in the game "belongs to" a positive faction, usually three or more. These are the factions that the NPC "likes" or is aligned with. Each NPC also has a list of "opposing" factions. For example, a given NPC could belong to a Gnome leader faction (race), Gnome Necromancer faction (guild), merchant faction, and maybe a couple more, and oppose Ogre Necromancers and the Ogre race faction.

    Every player character (PC) has a "faction standing" with every faction. Basically this is a number associated with your character that indicates how well-liked (or not) you are with each faction. Your score with one faction could be 100 (indifferent), and another -10000 (kill-on-sight or KOS). Determining your faction standing with an NPC is done by "considering" or "conning" them (with the /con command in EQ). This returns a little blurb about what your target (the NPC you conned) thinks of you. For example: "%Target scowls at you, ready to attack."

    Faction is used for many things in EQ. The biggest thing it's used for is reactions: now an NPC will react to seeing you, you talking to it, getting near it, etc.. If a mob cons KOS (scowls at you), and you get near it, it will attack you. If it cons threatening, it won't unless you get really close. Most NPCs won't give you quests unless you are indifferent or better. There are eleven faction levels from KOS to ally.

    Gaining and losing faction is done in two ways: killing mobs and completing quests. "Faction grinding" is when a player repeatedly kills mobs or completes quests in order to change their standing with a particular faction. Sometimes it can take a long time if your next level is 2000 points away and your mobs give you 1 point. Killing higher-level or more important mobs (e.g. a king) or doing quests will typically give you more points (or subtract more points for opposing factions). When you kill an NPC, for example, you will lose standing with the factions that the NPC is a "member of", and gain standing with factions that the NPC "opposes". So killing the Gnome NPC mentioned earlier would lower your standing the Gnome merchanges and raise it with Ogres.

    When you create your character, you automatically get a number of pre-set faction standings that have a large effect on how your game proceeds. If you choose a Dark Elf, you will have good Dark Elf standing but be KOS to High Elves. If your Dark Elf is a Wizard, you will have good standing with Wizards. If your Dark Elf Wizard follows the Innorruuk deity, you will have good standing with the deity and bad standing with any factions that oppose that deity. This is effectively used in EQ to create "good" and "evil" races. When combining this with the hundreds of non-race, non-class, non-deity factions, you have a vibrant, flexible and complex system that affords for a wide variety if gameplay.

    Note that I didn't design this system; this is from a player's perspective. It might not be quite correct but this seems to me to be how it works. :)

3 comments
  • eolith, kallafon, and Khabarakh like this
  • eolith
    eolith Excellent explanation. Thank you, kindly!
    February 23, 2014
  • kallafon
    kallafon Great explanation of the faction system in EQ. I'm hoping we get something very similar in Pantheon. Now to log into eq99 to grind some faction in BB to improve my Qeynos faction
    February 24, 2014
  • DeathtoGnomes
    DeathtoGnomes Please no faction grinds, no master no, I'll be good! promise!
    February 26, 2014