A Faction is an organization, such as the Chihaya Group or the Society of True Teachings, that characters (both Cast Members and NPCs) can be affiliated with. Belonging to a Faction grants access to its Faction Skills and Faction Items. More precisely, "belonging to that Faction" means "possessing a rank or level of influence within that Faction which would grant access to its benefits."
How Factions Work
Factions are closely tied to a character's background. Joining a Faction does not cost any XP and can be done at character creation. However, it must cohere with the character's background story. An employee of Iwasaki cannot be a member of the Chihaya Faction, and so forth. Clever exceptions may be possible, such as "a Chihaya corporate spy working undercover as a kugutsu at Iwasaki," but these must be narratively justified.
Each character can have only one active Faction at a given time. It may be possible for a character to narratively qualify for membership in multiple factions; for example, "a member of Chihaya's Investigations Bureau that is working as a liaison with the Black Hounds" could have either Chihaya or the Black Hounds as their Faction. However, they must pick one of these two Factions during Pre-Play, and for the remainder of the Act, that will be considered their sole active Faction.
You must be have a Faction active in order to:
- Use Faction Skills from that Faction
- Gain any benefit or effect from Faction Skills from that Faction
- Purchase or use Faction Outfits from that Faction
- Gain any benefit or effect from Faction Outfits from that Faction
It is possible to join a Faction with an existing Cast Member if events occur that would justify this. This cannot happen in the midst of an Act; the Cast Member can record the new Faction on their sheet during the Post-Act. Likewise, if something happens that makes it no longer possible for a Cast Member to be part of a Faction, or they simply wish to leave the organization in question, they remain a member of that Faction until the end of the Act.
There is one exception: if a character takes Social Damage, the Director may (at their discretion) instantly disable their Faction membership, if it is narratively appropriate.
When a character joins or leaves a Faction, they should probably be Rebuilt, so as to not have spent XP on Skills or Outfits they are unable to use.
Among NPCs, only Guests can have a Faction; Troops and Extras cannot belong to them, even if they are affiliated with organizations that are considered Factions.
The Freelance Faction is a special Faction for characters that do not qualify for any other Faction. If a character is narratively a member of any organization represented by a Faction, they cannot be a member of the Freelance Faction. They can, of course, tailor their background in order to avoid this; for example, "an independent street samurai who frequently does contract work for Chihaya" can be a freelancer while having close ties in the story to Chihaya. It is also possible to be a low-ranking Chihaya employee with no access to their Faction benefits, and thus default to the Freelance Faction.
Note that, in addition to Freelance, some Factions have special conditions that must be fulfilled in order to join them.
The following Factions are by default available to Guests only:
- Japanese Army
- Purification Faction
Cast Members cannot join these Factions without the Director's permission.
Faction Skills are special Style Skills that can be acquired only by characters belonging to the appropriate Faction. Unless otherwise stated, they are not restricted by the character's choice of Styles, and can be acquired and used by any character with that Faction active.
Faction Skills cost 10 XP each, and there is no limit to how many can be taken.
Even when a character possesses a previously acquired Faction Skill, unless they have the Faction that skill belongs to active, they cannot use it or gain any benefits from it.
Highlander's Sealed Memory skill and similar effects cannot be used to take Faction Skills.
Position Skills are a special type of Faction Skill that represent a character's internal rank, position, or duties within an organization.
Each character can have only one active Position Skill at a given time. If they acquire multiple Position Skills, they must choose one during Pre-Play, and gain no benefits from their inactive Position Skills for the rest of the Act. They cannot change which Position Skill is active during the Act.
Faction Outfits are special Outfits that can be acquired only by characters belonging to the appropriate Faction. Unless otherwise stated, they are not restricted by the character's choice of Styles, and can be purchased and used by any character with that Faction active. Be warned that unlike Faction Skills, it is relatively common for Faction Outfits to have Style restrictions.
Characters can only give Faction Outfits to each other if they both have the necessary Faction active.
Unlike regular Outfits, Faction Outfits cannot have their flavor altered, even at the Director's discretion.
Even when a character possesses a previously acquired Faction Outfit, unless they have the Faction that skill belongs to active, they cannot use it or gain any benefits from it.