More on my own Stormbringer idea:
The players can have four different statuses:
– Common peoples
– Fallen Houses
Each player falls in this category as he enters the game. This status already determines a precise position. Mobs and NPCs will attack or help (commerce, services and quests) the player depending on his faction/aligment value. But he will also starts with a precise position in the PvP. A common player will be always flagged for factional PvP. So a “Law” players can be attacked from a “Chaos” one right at the beginning (or by a fallen house, see below). In this case the rules about the factional PvP apply. Each player will be able to choose if accepting the fight (and the consequences) or flee. It’s not completely open PvP because you can always have the possibility to flee. What you cannot do is mind your own business and ignore the menace. Mercenaries are also considered common peoples.
Guilds are easy to build. You just need five other players and the guild is done. The structure is similar to what you have in current games. There’s a communal chat and various ranks (ranks are shown graphically). There’s also a special rank for the active mercenaries. A guild will be able to hire mercenaries (other players). The system is easy. Each mercenary will be hired behind a contract. This contract is based on two elements: payment and time. Basically a mercenary is a temporary guild member paid by the guild. If you set the cost to zero you can use this rank to recruit new players and test them before really add them to the guild. Guilds don’t have a “built-in” tax system.
A guild automatically becomes an “house” when it owns a part of the land. So if the guild owns a castle, a village, an outpost or various cities, it becomes automatically an “house”. If these structures are lost, the “house” goes back to its “guild” status. Being a house let you manage the real core of the game. You really have the control of a part of the world, you have NPCs under your services, you can set taxes, commerce, manage guards, territory boundaries, upgrade the structures and so on. Then you also gain a special status in the PvP system. Once a guild becomes a house it is more exposed. Not only the factional PvP is always active but also other houses inside the same faction can declare a war to another one. The declaration of war is one-way. Once it’s set you have a warning and from then you can only fight. This system allow battles inside the same faction and it’s active by default as your guild control a piece of the land. To limitate the possible disasters, there are systems that prevent the players from exploiting this rule. Each time a player kills another player in the same faction (this is the case of House vs. House) the *whole guild* (each character inside the guild, logged or not) will suffer a penalty in the faction/aligment value. So, if the battle goes on for long, the houses involved could reach a status where their factional value is reduced to zero. In this case an “house” becomes a “fallen house”. (there should be mechanics that allow an house to become a fallen house even without directly warring against its own faction)
A “fallen house” is another new status. In this case the status is determined by a timer value. To pass from guild to house you need to own a piece of land but once you pass from a house to a fallen house the land isn’t anymore important (a fallen house can own or not a part of the land). A fallen house will be flagged this way for a period of time. During this period not only the opposite faction can attack it, but everyone can: the enemy faction, the rival house/fallen house and the whole, once-friendly faction. It’s a special status where you have the world against you. Attacking and killing a player that belongs to a fallen house in the same faction doesn’t have anymore a penalty on the factional value. This is the path if you want to stay out of the three factions (Law, Chaos, Balance). Once you are a fallen house you are against everyone else. This status “heals” with the time and just the time but can still be redeclared if a fallen house wants to stay so.
The whole system is built to give depth and strenght to the three faction system (Law, Chaos, Balance). At the same time it allows the players to play even inside the same faction by exploiting the politics. The “fallen house” status is another position that allows a guild to build its own presence in the world without being a force included in the three factions. At one point a “fallen house” could become an even stronger reality than what the game’s structure expect by default.
There are two exceptions to the system above. The first exception is about alliances. Alliances are just a communal chat between various guilds and houses. Fallen houses alliances can only exist between fallen houses. In the gameplay the alliances have no value. It’s only a way to communicate.
The other exception is about the “Balance” faction. This faction behaves differently from Chaos and Law. There aren’t guilds or houses here. The Balance is like a big guild and each player already begins inside this structure. The revolutionary idea is that this whole thing will be governed in democracy. There will be periodical elections and who will win the elections will lead the faction. The government will be built around 20-30 members that will decide together what the Balance will do. They will control the commerce and they will decide if the Balance allies with the Law or Chaos. Everything about Balance is being determined by the government. No other guilds or houses (or even solitary players) are contemplated in this strange faction.
By default the Balance can only attack a fallen house but not another faction. If the balance wants to attack Law or Chaos they need to build an alliance with one side. These alliances can be public or secret but they cannot be broken every few minutes. Each decision will last for a limited and fixed period of time.
As a side note: To hold a piece of land not only you need to defend it but you need also to pay an upkeep. The system is built so that this payment is easier if you are inside a faction. For a fallen house it’s a lot harder to mantain the control over the land and this because of the complex commerce/resources system that isn’t explained here. Since a fallen house has no contact with the other three factions (all enemies), it’s obvious that it will be hard for them to find the resources for the upkeep.