Study, collection or hoard? Feature image from: Wikimedia Commons.
As the old adage goes, “the answer isn’t on the character sheet”. Well, not always. Getting cool new stuff to do is nice, even more so if they’re truly new ways to interact with the game fiction, rather than simply improving your numbers for slightly increased odds. It’s the same in electronic games: for example, acquiring the Ice Beam in Metroid and using frozen enemies as platforms is cool, while finding a new Health Tank, while useful, isn’t as cool.
However, tying these new abilities to abstract concepts such as level and XP makes them feel artificial; better to make them a relevant part of your setting, so that their discovery and development feel natural to the players. In the Metroid example above, the Ice Beam isn’t tied to a “level up”, since the franchise is one of the few metroidvanias where level isn’t a concept; instead, the beam upgrade is discovered, a reward for exploring the dangerous environments Samus tends to find herself at.
In this vein, I’d like to show you, in a small series of three posts, twelve options of organizations that you may include in your campaign, or use them as inspiration for your own games; the first four here on this article, and the others on the two next posts. The presented factions follow the template explained below.