What Are Adversaries?
Adversaries are the movers and shakers of the game world who form the backbone of a faction’s power structure alongside their respective faction leaders. They’re bandit overlords, campaigning generals, bounty hunters of renown, legendary outlaws, notorious mercenary commanders, and fabled explorers.
Selected randomly from a wealth of possibilities at world generation, each Adversary is an independent and unique character with core beliefs, desires, and a strong personality. They can be honourable leaders, cowardly administrators, conniving schemers, foolish blunderers, and level-headed tacticians.
Above all, they’re written and designed to be memorable.
A faction’s goals and strategies are informed by the Adversaries that populate their hierarchy, and their presence (or absence) can have profound effects on dynamic quests and a faction’s survival. Certain generals will favour war, while others will caution peace. Conniving Adversaries willl do anything to get ahead; those with a code of honour have hard lines they never cross.
Every faction has multiple Adversaries at its disposal. Every Adversary remembers your past encounters. And as time goes on, they become the recurring heroes and villains of the world who show up when you least expect it – and sometimes, when you do.
Get on an Adversary’s bad side and they can hunt you down.
Others will lure you through a network of middlemen to another part of the world, only for your “quest” to have been an elaborate trap. Some will hire thugs to do their bidding and some prefer to get their hands dirty. Others still resort to political means of getting their way: They badmouth you to their counterparts and spread lies and disinformation across their faction.
Take an Adversary down and you’ll have a faction’s undivided attention.
Take multiple down and your reputation will grow to new heights.
Yet, earn an Adversary’s trust and they will go out of their way to lend you aid.
They will damn the odds and stand beside you in a hopeless battle in the heart of an enemy’s territory. They will defend your own settlements and cities, come what may. And they will show up when all is lost and you look to the horizon, beaten and bloody, desparate for a saviour to swoop and save you.
How Adversaries Work
At the start of the game, you are nothing.
It is up to you to earn your place in the world. A faction, its leader, its populace, and its Adversaries won’t care about you.
Encounter an Adversary on the battlefield and they’ll swat you away without a second thought.
But prove yourself in battle or by your deeds and they will take notice.
The more capable you become, the more likely it is that an Adversary will grow to respect – or hate – your faction.
Every one remembers how you interact with them, including such exchanges as:
Defeating them in battle or losing fights to them
Stabbing them in the back
Stealing from them and their bodyguards
Joining them in pursuit of their faction’s goals
Fleeing your battles prematurely
Saving their life or rescuing them from their enemies
Completing, failing, and refusing tasks they ask of you
Fighting alongside them in sieges and campaigns
Abducting, Interrogating, and Torturing them
Showing up suspiciously often
On top of that, they care about their comrades and have strong opinions about your encounters with them. Put a bandit overlord to the sword and they’ll have something to say about it. Turn an Adversary over to a rival faction and they’ll take the matter to heart.
Each Adversary influences their faction in a myriad of ways.
Winning an Adversary’s trust is key to winning that of their faction. Some rulers and leaders are paranoid, cynical, out of touch – it can take a few kind words from a trusted subordinate to earn you an audience. Depending on a faction’s significance in the world, its Adversaries influence elements like available units, political desires, chosen enemies, and chosen policies.
It’s possible, for instance, for the Fairisle Dynasty to turn a blind eye to the practice of smuggling if its top General partakes in certain frowned-upon proclivities. Similarly, that same faction might favour a pre-emptive strike against its rivals should its commanding General be reckless and bold.